Injuries Caused by Seat Belt Failure
The use of seat belts is at an all time high with about 83% of car passengers in the U.S. using seat belts during daylight hours, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In 2006 alone, 15,383 lives were saved because of the use of seat belts. Public safety campaigns are credited with increasing the use of seat belts.
Despite that good news, seat belts can also cost lives, especially if they are defective or improperly designed. A defective seat belt can allow the vehicle occupant to hit a windshield or be ejected from a vehicle during an accident, causing catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), and spinal cord injuries which last a lifetime.
Seat belts work to prevent the series of collisions that occur in an auto accident. Following the initial impact, a second impact occurs inside the car. A car occupant firmly in their seat with the help of a seat belt is in the correct position for the airbag to deploy and prevent the passenger from being hurt by striking the windshield or frame of the vehicle.
When the seat belt, crumple zone of the vehicle itself, and airbags work as intended, they dissipate the energy from the collision and reduce the force of the collision on the vehicle’s occupant.
Types of Common Defects in Florida
When seat belts fail, injuries occur, and many seat belt defects have been known for years, among them:
- False latching – When a latch fails to lock and the plate pulls out of the buckle. Though auto manufacturers are supposed to sell cars with working seat belts, millions of cars have this defect which is not easily identified. Another problem – older designs have release buttons on the side that were inadvertently hit in some accidents releasing the belt.
- Torn Seat Belts – Occasionally the webbing of the seat belt can tear in an accident. That could indicate that the material was substandard or that something inside the car cut the seat belt webbing.
- Seat Belt Slack – Seat belts operate much like a window shade. A seat belt comes out of a retractor, but when there is excess slack in the belt, which can be introduced unknowingly, the retractor fails to properly lock and the seat belt is now ineffective in preventing the occupant from hitting a dashboard, windshield, or steering wheel.
- Lap Belts – Lap belts alone have been known to do more harm than good by crushing organs and lacerating the spinal cord.
- Child Injuries – For children who are using only a lap belt or who have the seat belt incorrectly positioned on their body, the potential exists for “seat-belt syndrome” or injuries that are caused by the position of the seat belt intended for an adult body. Injuries can occur such as spinal and neck damage, bruised organs, severed intestines, or a ruptured diaphragm. Children who have outgrown a child seat need a booster with a five-point harness to hold them in properly using adult seat belts. Children should always ride in the back seat.
Even considering these seat belt failures, overall you are much safer wearing one than not wearing one. Time and time again, we see the consequences of people in the same accident. Those who chose not to wear the seat belt suffer traumatic injury while the survivors wearing seat belts walk away with minor injuries. There is no question that seat belts save lives.
Following an accident that involves questions about a seat belt, you are well-advised to consult with a Jacksonville auto product liability attorney. If you were not wearing a seat belt, no doubt the at-fault side will try to prove your injuries resulted from your failure to wear one.
Mounting a proper seatbelt defense with an insurance company can be complex, and Farah & Farah has handled these types of cases in the past and knows how to investigate then proceed. If the belt had been repaired by a dealer, the dealership could be held responsible. The at-fault driver could be held responsible for your medical costs and rehabilitation, property damage, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Free Consultation from a Jacksonville Seatbelt Failure Lawyer at 855-797-9899
We offer a full and comprehensive consultation to discuss your defective seat belt case. Please contact a Jacksonville product liability injury lawyer from Farah & Farah today.