Defective and Malfunctioning Seat belts in Mercer County Car Accident Cases
Auto Accidents Attorneys serving Hamilton, Trenton, Ewing and across Mercer County
Seat belts are designed to protect drivers and passengers from harm stemming from motor vehicle accidents. But sometimes, the very thing designed to protect a person is the thing that causes harm. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), in 2016, there were 4159 people who died while wearing a seat belt during a crash. While the specific causes of death were not known, this demonstrates that seat belts do fail.
Some car manufacturers have recalled cars due to unsafe or defective seat belts. For instance. in 2019, Ford recalled 108,000 cars due to unsafe seat belts. In those recalls, Ford sought to address the defective seat belts that failed to secure passengers when the cables of the seat belts weakened due to excessive heat. Ford did the right thing in recalling the seat belts, but many crashes and injuries occurred before the defect was made known.
A safety recall is of little consolation to someone who was injured or lost a loved one due to a defective seat belt. Drivers put their faith in car companies when making purchases, and trust that these companies have manufactured a vehicle that is safe. When this does not happen, you and your loved ones may be left with injuries, economic losses, and emotional turmoil. If this is your situation, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
Who Is Liable if a Seat Belt Malfunctions in NJ?
Being injured in an accident involving a defective seat belt can entitle you to recovery. However, determining who is liable is not as simple as naming the manufacturer of the car. The company liable can be the car manufacturer, the seat belt manufacturer, or another company associated with the seat belt. An attorney experienced in product liability will know what to look for and who may be liable in your defective seat belt case.
Proving liability involves demonstrating that the seat belt malfunctioned or was defective in some way, which led to injuries. Some of the more common causes of suits in seat belt cases involve defective seat belt design, failure to adequately test seat belt safety, or using unsafe materials in the design of the seat belts. The companies that may be liable will attempt to prove the opposite – that the product was a working seat belt, it was designed correctly, and that it was properly tested before being placed on the market.
Reasons Why Defective or Faulty Seat Belts Fail
There is a number of reasons why seat belts fail. Lawsuits and recalls often help determine the types of defects or malfunctions that occur with a specific seat belt failure. The following are some of the various ways in which seat belts have been known to fail or malfunction:
- Defective buckles: Seat belts are designed to buckle or latch and stay locked during an accident. Some buckles have been proven to unlatch, fail to continue to be latched during impact, or fail to adequately latch at all.
- Excessive slack in the belt: If you pull your seat belt while buckled, it often snaps back into place. If the tension that should be there is defective, it could fail to adequately secure a person during a crash. When this happens, the slack in the belt can cause injuries.
- Skip lock and spool out: This happens when the seat belt fails to lock or locks too late.
- Lap belt without shoulder belts: Many older cars only have lap belts. These lap belts can be the actual cause of injuries, as they have since been replaced by safer seat belt models.
Injuries Due to Defective Seat Belts in Auto Accidents
Driving a car is, to some degree, inherently dangerous. The average weight of a car is approximately 4000 pounds. The seat belt is designed to protect you and others from harm that results from an impact with another car or object. The sheer inertia of a car slamming on the breaks can violently propel a person forward or backward. One can imagine the disastrous impacts that a defective seat belt can have on a person traveling in a 4000-pound object traveling rate of 50 miles per hour.
Defective seat belts can cause injuries ranging from tissue damage to death. Some of the commonly known injuries caused by defective seat belts include:
Contact Our Hamilton, Trenton and Ewing NJ Accident Attorneys Today
If you suffered a seat belt injury during a car accident, then please speak with one of our attorneys at CR for help today. We understand how overwhelming it can be to consider filing a lawsuit for a seat belt injury. Please feel free to discuss your questions or concerns with our auto accident lawyers at any time. Contact us here for a free, no-obligation consultation or call our NJ office at (609) 528-2596.