Defective Seatbelts

Seat belt use among motorists increases every year according to the latest statistics from the NHTSA for 2008.  At least 82% of occupants buckle up. During a crash, seat belts are designed to keep occupants from begin flung out of a vehicle, in which 75% of the time injuries are fatal. It’s known that seat belts do prevent deaths and injuries; however, the number of people wearing their seat belt who suffer from serious seat injuries indicates that seat belt defectiveness is often the cause of damage in these accidents. In twenty percent of all rollover accidents seat belt failure is a main contributory factor to serious injury.
Injuries due to defective seat belts can occur when a belt fails to properly protect a passenger in the second collision phase of an automobile accident. Experts describe two collisions in an auto accident. First, the vehicle collides with another vehicle or object. Second, the passenger impacts with the interior of the vehicle, or in cases of ejection, impacts outside the vehicle. The purpose of a seat belt is to minimize the injuries and damage caused in the second collision by reducing or eliminating occupant contact with the vehicle's interior that usually is the cause of a significant amount of a victim’s injury. Seat belt injuries often occur when there is a seat belt design, production, or installation defect.

Seat Belt Design
Defective seat belt design, production, or installation can be suspected under the following circumstances: serious and non-serious seat belt injuries were sustained by belted occupants in the same crash, the injured person is wearing a loose fitting seat belt; the occupant is found unbelted but insists that they engaged the seat belt prior to the accident; a belted occupant makes contact with the windshield during a collision; a belted victim suffers serious seat belt injuries with little vehicle structural damage, or the seat belt is found torn or ripped after an auto accident.

There are several seat belt design and manufacturing defects that can cause severe seat belt injuries. Faulty seat belts can unlatch during an accident so the belt releases during a collision. When the seat belt feels and looks like it is engaged but comes loose in an accident it is called false latching. Seat belts can tear or rip because of defects in the material or weaving causing seat belt injuries. When seat belt retractors fail this often results in excess slack during a collision, causing injuries. Door mounted belts, and lap-only seat belt designs can also contribute to seat belt injuries because of poor seat belt geometry.  

Product Recalls
A number of vehicles have been recalled or investigated because of faulty seat belt design, production, or installation. Fourteen million Chrysler vehicles have been recalled because of defective seat belt retractors that caused, or had the potential to cause, serious seat belt injuries.

Consult a Defective Seat Belt Expert
Someone injured as the result of a defective seat belt will need to contact a personal injury attorney who specializes in seat belt defects to protect their rights to receive compensation for their injuries. Seat belt injury victims can be eligible to receive compensation for their medical care, lost and future wages, pain and suffering, and more.