Getting into a car accident is a terrifying experience in and of itself, but the incident can be exacerbated when the features of your vehicle aren’t performing up to standard. A seatbelt, for example, is meant to protect the individuals inside of a vehicle from being ejected from the cabin if ever the vehicle was suddenly stopped or struck. It is also meant to keep you in place, so you do not collide with anything inside the vehicle, keeping your body safe from the glass and hard sides of the doors, dashboard, etc. If your seatbelt were to fail, however, then an accident would put you into significantly more danger. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident due to a faulty seatbelt, you may be able to file a claim to determine what your rights are to receive compensation for your injuries.
Who Is Liable for a Seatbelt Malfunction in a Car Accident?
Seatbelt malfunctions are, sadly, a common occurrence for car accident victims. The dysfunction often worsens injuries the victim incurs, making their recovery longer or more complicated than it would have been otherwise. This critical vehicle feature must be made up of three primary components:
- Belt – which should be positioned across your body, one half stretched across your lap, and the other, up across your torso, to your shoulder.
- Retractors – this component is the one responsible for locking up the belt in response to a sudden stop. It maintains connections to the vehicle’s airbag system.
- Anchors – this is where the seatbelt is threaded through, anchoring it to the seat.
If one or all of these components have malfunctioned to the point that they can no longer provide you the proper protection, you are owed compensation for your injuries. Your settlement should specifically take the form of compensatory or punitive damages, especially if your injuries are directly related to the lack of seatbelt protection.
Any injuries that can be attributed to manufacturer defects can be regarded in the context of strict liability laws. In this case, you will not be expected to prove the negligence of the manufacturer or another liable party. You will instead be asked to demonstrate that the seatbelt was responsible for your injuries because it was “unreasonably dangerous.”
Your Rights When Filing a Personal Injury Claim Due to a Malfunctioning Seatbelt
There are a wide variety of reasons why a seatbelt can malfunction. Possible causes include:
- Defects in the design of the seatbelt
- Flaws in the manufacturing process
- Inadequate warnings
When a seatbelt is not functioning as expected, this can cause injuries similar to those experienced by passengers who were never restrained, to begin with. Injuries can be anything from fractures in the upper and lower body, head and spinal injuries, and even death. The belt may malfunction primarily by failing to lock during a collision or coming unlatched. These instances may be due to the manufacturer’s tendency to cut corners or inability (or unwillingness) to produce a component that is up to code. If this is the case, contact a personal injury attorney to assist you in filing your case.