Seat belt recalls are all too common. In the past six months, we have seen three different recalls affecting Ford, Volvo, and General Motors vehicles. Defective seat belts can cause injuries such as internal bleeding; rib, clavicle, knee, and spinal fractures; whiplash; lacerations; and injuries from ejection.
How might a seat belt be defective?
There are multiple ways a seat belt can be defective. Some examples are:
- Failing to remain latched during an accident (e.g., inertial latching and false latching)
- Slack (i.e., coming or staying loose during an accident)
- Inferior quality of materials, including buckles and straps (e.g., can cause the seat belt to snap or unbuckle during an accident)
- Defective design that results in improper placement of the device on the car occupant’s body
How can a seat belt cause or worsen injuries?
Although research has shown that seat belts save many lives, they can also cause or worsen injuries if they are defective.
If the seat belt is improperly designed and results in incorrect positioning relative to the person’s body, the forces created by an accident will not be distributed evenly. This can result in spinal fractures and fatal ruptures of the spleen.
Seat belts that do not remain latched, snap, or loosen during a crash can cause people to be thrown around the car or even ejected from the vehicle.
Who is liable in an accident involving a defective seat belt?
If a defective seat belt caused or worsened injuries in an accident, anyone involved with the seat belt’s manufacturing, design, or distribution could be liable. This means that you might be able to hold an engineer, designer, parts manufacturer, seat belt manufacturer, or auto manufacturer liable for any injuries you suffer.
In addition to the parties listed above, if another driver was at-fault for the collision, you can also hold that driver liable for any injuries you suffered.
How can I hold a manufacturer liable?
Holding a manufacturer liable for injuries is different than holding a driver liable. Because holding a corporation liable for a defect can seem impossible, states have enacted laws that make it easier for the average consumer to recover compensation for injuries caused by defective products.
Under Florida’s strict products liability law, to hold a manufacturer liable, you must be able to prove the following:
- The defect caused your injuries.
- You were using the product in a way the manufacturer intended or could have foreseen.
- You did not alter the product after you received it.
Essentially, you must be able to prove that you had your seat belt buckled and you had not altered the product in any way that would have rendered it ineffective (e.g., cut the belt for any reason).
How can I get help?
If you have been injured in an accident involving a defective seat belt, you may have a claim. The product liability lawyers at the Montero Law Center in Fort Lauderdale will evaluate your claim and advise you on your options. Call us today at 954-767-6500 to schedule your free consultation.