Defective Seat Belts

Defective seatbelts are responsible for an alarming number of injuries and deaths. Although the use of seatbelts and child safety restraints is required by law in all 50 states for all occupants of a car, SUV, or pickup truck, the design of some seatbelts leaves their users surprisingly vulnerable in a collision.

Protecting the Seatbelt Wearer?

The purpose of a seatbelt is to keep the seatbelt wearer in place if there is a collision, whether the vehicle is hit by another vehicle or hits a stationary object, a pedestrian, or a moving vehicle. If a seatbelt doesn't do its job, the wearer is at risk of being thrown inside the vehicle or being ejected from the vehicle on impact. Either scenario can result in severe injury or death.

Different Seatbelt Designs

There are many different seatbelt designs for use in the several hundred different vehicle models available in the U.S. Many of the seatbelt defects that have been identified are in older-model vehicles, but as the automotive industry keeps churning out new models for the American consumer, new seatbelt designs are implemented, and these seatbelts can also be defective.

Many Types of Seatbelt Defects

There are many ways that a seatbelt or a seatbelt system can be faulty. A once common defect was the "lap belt only" design. In this design type, there is no seatbelt component that crosses the wearer's chest; there's only one strap across the wearer's abdomen. Even a relatively mild rear-end collision can seriously injure someone wearing only a lap belt, because he or she can slide upward and back in the vehicle upon impact.

Other seat belt defects involve:

  • door-mounted seatbelt systems
  • other types of automatic seatbelt systems
  • unlatching and false latching of the seatbelt
  • inadequate seat belt geometry
  • failure of the seatbelt's retractor
  • torn or ripped webbing
  • vehicle system failure

Another type of seat belt defect makes an occupant "submarine" forward and down in the vehicle, causing spinal cord, head and neck injuries that can be fatal.

Consult an Attorney about Defective Seatbelts

After an injury or fatality occurs in a collision, it's a good idea to talk with a knowledgeable lawyer about your circumstances. If you suspect that a seatbelt defect caused or contributed to your loss, consult an attorney today.

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