Seatbelts are arguably the single most important automobile safety invention in history. However, when seatbelts are defective, there is a serious risk of injury to car occupants.
Seatbelt use across the United States is at close to all-time highs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, seatbelt use across the United States reached 88.5%. That was an increase from 86.7% recorded in 2014. Although that is not believed to be a statistically significant difference, it is encouraging to note that Americans continue to buckle up even though cars now come with several high-tech safety features. The fact is that in many different types of accidents, it is the seatbelt that significantly reduces the risk of serious injuries or death.
Make sure that you and other people in your car are always buckled-up while driving. Children must not be restrained in seatbelts unless they have reached the proper age and weight.
Wearing a seatbelt protects you from the kind of injury that can be sustained when you come into contact with the windshield, steering wheel, or other interior components of the car during an accident. Wearing a seatbelt also reduces the risk of being partially or completely ejected from the car in the event of a rollover. Partial or complete ejection can result in catastrophic injuries like brain injuries and spinal cord injuries and actually happens more often than expected.
When seatbelts malfunction, they can significantly increase your risk of serious injuries. Each year, several models of cars are recalled due to seatbelt failures. There are several ways that a seatbelt can malfunction. One common seatbelt defect may cause the buckle to become accidentally unlatched during an accident. In other cases, the seatbelt buckle may appear to be latched, but is not. A seatbelt like in this position will not successfully restrain the person in an accident. Other defects can include ripped or torn webbing, and retractor failure.
Legal claims brought after a person has been injured due to a defective seatbelt are filed under product liability law. These cases are complex, and often require the expertise of engineers, accident reconstructionists, and – of course – experienced car accident attorneys. But these claims are very important to our system of justice because they not only compensate those who need to recover lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering, but they also incentivize car manufacturers to produce safe products.