Seat belts have saved many lives since their widespread use began in the 1960s. They prevent the users from impacting with the vehicle’s interior surfaces. In addition, they prevent the occupants from ejecting out of the vehicle. These benefits are completely negated when the seat belt fails to perform its function in an accident. This can occur because of a design oversight, a manufacturing defect, or improper installation.
An example of a design oversight are shoulder belts that attach to the ceiling. The ceiling can become badly deformed during a rollover which renders the belt ineffective at restraining the passenger. Sometimes the seat belt webbing is made from the wrong material. This causes the webbing to weaken over time from degradation. The weakened belt then tears from the forces of an accident.
Poor material selection was also the reason why a particular brand of seat belts experienced unlatching problems. Degradation of the plastic release button caused fragments to break off and interfere with the latching mechanism.
Sometimes the seat belt retractor fails to lock during an accident which causes the belt to remain slack. Some lap belt attachment points are level with the hips rather than below. This makes the lap belt less effective at restraining the occupant in an overturned vehicle.
Improper installation may cause the seat belt to separate from its attachment or anchor point in the car. Improper seat belt installation may also result in an improper fit which injures the wearer during a crash.
Still another defect are latches that sound and feel as though they are secured in place but fail when a small amount of force is applied. Some release button designs are too easily activated, resulting in accidental release by moving objects or limbs during an accident. Sometimes the problem is not a defect of the seat belt itself, but an oversight of the car designer who specifies inadequate lap belts for the back seats.
When seat belts fail, people are subject to the same horrific injuries suffered by previous generations who drove in cars without seat belts. Automakers have had over 50 years to get it right and such failures should never happen. If you have been injured in a Mission Viejo car accident where the seat belt failed to restrain you, it is your right to seek compensation for your suffering and losses. Contact us at Silverthorne Attorneys for a free consultation.