Car crashes happen. It’s a fact of life. It’s why every vehicle is legally required to have fully functional seatbelts. Besides airbags, they’re the primary safety measure in an accident, so when they fail to work properly, people can get hurt, or worse, killed. When this happens, the manufacturer of the vehicle can be held liable for releasing a dangerous product to the public. If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries in an auto accident due to a defective seatbelt, you are probably wondering:
- How can I hold the liable car maker responsible?
- What damages can I recover?
- Who can provide me with high quality legal representation?
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How Can Seat belts Fail?
We put on our seatbelts with the reasonable expectation that it will protect us in a crash. While seatbelts cannot totally immunize us from injury in a vehicle collision, they do prevent a significant amount of injuries and fatalities that would’ve otherwise occurred without their application. When a seatbelt is defective and an injury results from its failure to restrain, this constitutes a failure of duty on the part of the manufacturer, and thus can be grounds for a negligence claim.
Some of the more common seatbelt defects include the following:
- Inertial unlatching – This occurs when the latch plate pulls out of the buckle during a collision. In spite of the auto industry’s claims, recent testing has demonstrated that accident level forces can actually cause the buckle button to depress and release the latch plate.
- False latching – This occurs when the latch plate seems to be latched but is not fully engaged and thus susceptible to being pulled out from minimal amounts of force.
- Torn or ripped webbing – Seatbelt webbing is designed to withstand incredible amounts of force. When webbing tears, either something has gone terribly wrong or there is a huge design or manufacturing flaw in the webbing itself.
- Retractor failure – In an accident, the retractor is supposed to lock the webbing and hold the occupant in place. Defective retractors may fail to properly lock, causing dangerous seatbelt “slack.”
- Poor geometry – When a seatbelt does not come across the occupant at the right angle, this can allow excessive occupant excursion, particularly in rollover accidents.
Preserving Physical Evidence Is Key
Since seatbelt design or manufacturing defects are often subtle and hard to detect, it is extremely important that you preserve your vehicle and its seatbelt system in its post-accident condition until an investigator has thoroughly examined them for physical evidence of seatbelt failure. Otherwise, you may significantly weaken your claim and consequently your chances at full and fair compensation.
The Right Accident Law Firm for You
The personal injury lawyers of Wilshire Law Firm always put in their best efforts to defend the rights of injured accident victims. Not only are we excellent negotiators, but we also have an excellent track record of courtroom success. If we’re not able to get you a fair settlement deal, we will fight aggressively for your interests in court. Contact our office today to learn more about what our firm can do for you.
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