Statistics show that wearing your seat belt can significantly reduce the risk of injury in an auto accident. The less publicized fact is that a malfunctioning seat belt increases your risk of injury.
Seat belt malfunctions can cause permanent or fatal injuries in accidents that would otherwise have resulted in no injury at all.
Seat Belt Injuries
While the benefits of wearing seat belts are highly publicized, seat belt injuries receive little media attention. However, Seat Belt Syndrome (SBS) has been recognized by the medical community since 1962, when injuries were typically caused by lap-only belts. Injuries caused by seat belt malfunction can include:
- Facial injuries
- Internal injuries
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Severe abdominal injuries
- Broken bones
- Fractures of the lumbar spine
Common Seat Belt Malfunctions
Some of the most common seat belt defects include:
- Internal unlatching: When the seat belt latch is located on the front of the buckle impact to the back of the buckle can cause it to unlatch, even in crashes with fairly low forces.
- Protruding release button: Generation Three (Gen 3) buckles installed in about 14 million Chrysler vehicles from 1993 to 2002, have a protruding release button that can be accidentally pressed unlatching the belt.
- Window shade device: Allows the occupant to easily create slack in the shoulder strap so that he or she can move around comfortably and then, by giving a tug in the strap, activate the retractor and take up the slack again. Occupants are often not aware of the slack in the belt and are left unprotected.
- Retractor failure: The retractor should lock during an accident, preventing the seat belt from feeding out. Retractor failure allows slack in the belt.
- Automatic belts: Wearing only the shoulder strap without the lap belt in place causes the full force of the accident to be applied to the neck or head causing neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, and often death. Door mounted automatic belts can cause ejection from the vehicle if the door comes open during a crash.
Seat Belt Malfunction Changes the Dynamics of Your Case
An unproven seat belt malfunction can hurt your case because it can make it appear as if you were wearing no seat belt at all. Proving seat belt malfunction requires proper investigation by an experienced seat belt malfunction attorney.
If you are injured by a seat belt malfunction, your case will be more than a simple auto accident lawsuit. It will expand to a product liability lawsuit, and the responsible parties can include auto manufacturers and seat belt manufacturers.
If you believe that your injuries were caused by a defective seat belt, contact one of the experienced product liability attorneys at Colling Gilbert Wright today by calling (407) 712-7300 or completing our online form. We will evaluate your claim for free and represent you on a contingent fee basis, which means you dont have to pay unless you recover compensation.