What Causes a Seat Belt to Malfunction and Who Is Liable When It Does?
Seat belts are supposed to save lives. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data shows that 90.7% of drivers and passengers used their seat belts in 2019. In 2017, these lifesaving devices saved 14,955 lives. However, seat belts are subject to design defects and damage that can diminish their effectiveness. Damaged or defective seat belts can suffer weaving defects during the manufacturing process. They can experience seat belt retractor failures when force is applied. They can also experience false latching when the driver/passenger sits in the vehicle, or inertial unlatching when a collision occurs.
Signs That a Seat Belt Is Defective
It is important to thoroughly inspect a seat belt following a motor vehicle accident in Colorado. There are certain telltale signs that accident survivors should look for and consider that can indicate a seat belt malfunction. Whenever possible, these should be noted at the scene of the accident. Signs of seat belt malfunctions following a motor vehicle accident include:
- Tears or other damage to the seat belt
- Passengers were wearing seat belts but were ejected from the vehicle
- Passengers suffered injuries even though damage to the vehicle was minimal
- Multiple people wearing seat belts within the vehicle suffered injuries
- Passengers wearing seat belts struck the steering wheel, dash, or windshield
Possible Injuries When a Seat Belt Malfunctions
Seat belt malfunctions can subject individuals to the same types of injuries as they would suffer if they were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. This includes head, neck, chest, spinal, and abdominal injuries. It also includes fractures to the upper and lower extremities, and in severe cases, paralysis, disfigurement, or death.
Liability for Defective Seat Belts
Seat belt malfunctions can be traced back to many different causes. These include design flaws, manufacturing errors, improper/insufficient directions for use, assembly errors, and even lack of warning labels.
Liability for a seat belt malfunction can fall upon a vehicle manufacturer, a component manufacturer, a seat belt supplier, or even a mechanic who performs service on the seat belt and its associated components. Liability can also fall upon a driver or passenger who tampers with, purposefully damages, or deliberately disables the device.
Contact Sloat, Nicholson, & Hoover, P.C. at (303) 447-1144 to learn more about seat belt malfunctions in Colorado. Our team will answer your questions and determine how to pursue your claim for personal injury compensation.
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