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Defective Seat Belts Litigation


In recent years, more and more Americans have heeded the advice that they should “buckle up,” particularly as an increasing number of states have started to enforce laws mandating that all occupants in a passenger vehicle wear seat belts. For the most part, this is a positive development, as seat belts have saved countless thousands of lives. However, when a seat belt is defective, the consequences can be catastrophic, with some seat belts actually being responsible for taking the lives they were supposed to protect.

Common Seat Belt Defects

Although the vast majority of seat belts are safe, the most common defects include:

  • False Latching: Some seat belts appear to be fastened properly, having even made the proper “clicking” noise when latched; however, failure to completely engage can lead to their becoming unlatched at the moment of an impact, putting the wearer at increased risk of catastrophic personal injury.
  • Lap-only Belts: In the late 1960s, it was discovered that the three-point-harness seat belt offered greater protection in the event of an accident than the lap-only belt; yet, many automobile manufacturers continued to place lap-only seat belts in the rear seats of their vehicles well into the 1980s.
  • Door-mounted “Automatic” Seat Belts: Door-mounted “automatic” seat belts are particularly dangerous in that their movement is dependent upon the movement of the car door during a collision. If a door is forced open or otherwise caused to move, the seat belt could cause serious injury or even wrongful death.
  • Slack or Non-locking Shoulder Belts: If a seat belt is not taut at the point of collision, the wearer can suffer serious injury, including brain injury, from the rapid, jerking forward-and-back motion that results.
  • Flaws in the Webbing: If there is any weakness in the webbing that comprises the seat belt, it can rip or tear under the force of a collision, leaving the wearer vulnerable to serious injury.

These are just a few of the possible defects that can cause a seat belt to fail in the event of an accident. As drivers depend on their seat belts as the primary barrier between themselves and catastrophic injury during an accident, automobile manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that every seat belt they install into their vehicles offers the same reliable measure of protection. While seat belts cannot make anyone immune from injury, they certainly should never cause an injury due to faulty design or manufacture.

Locate a Product Liability Attorney in Your Area

If you or someone you love has suffered a serious personal injury due to a defective seat belt, you are eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle under the doctrine of product liability. We invite you to use the ImpactLaw directory of outstanding attorneys to locate a defective seat belt attorney in your local area today.

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