Since being required in American manufactured vehicles in 1966, seat belts have saved many lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts save around 14,000 people annually. Seat belts are especially useful in the instances of roll-over accidents, as they prevent passengers and drivers from being ejected from the vehicle. With that being said, seat belts can also cause injuries. Seat belt injuries are normally caused by defects and can cause a variety of different injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured by a seat belt stemming from a defective component of the design or manufacturing of the seat belt, you are possibly afflicted with costly medical bills and overall financial hardship. You trusted seat belt manufacturers and designers to produce a product that prevents injury, not cause it. Now you are experiencing the cost of their neglect both monetarily and physically. It may be time to contact a car accident attorney experienced in dealing with claims where a party was injured by a seat belt. SMT Legal attorneys are experienced with dealing with seat belt injuries and all forms of car accident claims.
The Top Three Seat Belt Malfunctions
In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be enough instances of seat belts malfunctioning to establish categories. Unfortunately, reality has shown that there are certain seat belt malfunctions that occur again and again. They are defective retractors, issues with latching systems and manufacturers using low quality materials.
An effective seat belt retractor will provide the right amount of give and they will retract at a safe, consistent pace. Defective retractors have a number of consequences. For example, seat belt material is worn down easier in defective retractors. This decreases the likelihood that a seat belt will be effective during an accident.
It is important for a latching system to function properly in order for seat belts to provide safety like they are supposed to. Issues with a seat belts latching system can be deceptive: appearing to latch properly but lacking the ability to provide resistance. This leads to seatbelts unlatching during an accident.
Unfortunately, it has become more common for vehicle manufacturers to cut production costs wherever they can. Some manufacturers use low quality materials during seat belt production. These seat belts have shorter shelf lives than quality seat belts. This increases the chance of seatbelts malfunctioning and injuries to occur during an accident.
Seat Belt Injuries
Malfunctioning seat belts can have serious consequences. The range of severity is vast in seatbelt injuries. Serious seat belt injuries are normally internal injuries. This includes injuries to the spin, bowels, and abdomen. Seat belt malfunctions can also lead to paralysis. In a 2014 Pennsylvania case, a man was paralyzed from a seatbelt malfunction. The man was awarded over $50 million in damages and the verdict was upheld in the Supreme Court.