The seat belt is one of the most important advancements in car safety of the past century. Thanks to the seat belt, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives have been saved. Unfortunately, accident victims can still suffer extensive trauma due in spite of these devices, and a malfunctioning seat belt can even lead to catastrophic repercussions.
If you have become the victim of a seat belt injury, then you are likely in need of skilled legal help. At The Lenahan Law Firm, we dedicate all of our time, resources, and skills to serious accident cases so that our clients get the best legal representation in Texas. Our Dallas seat belt injury attorneys have seen just how devastating a high-speed collision can be for victims and understand the pain that you are going through. If you want to hold the party responsible for your injuries responsible and get the compensation you need to recover, then we may be the right law firm for you. Call us at (214) 295-1008 for dedicated legal support today and a free consultation.
A seat belt’s job is to restrict the wearer and keep them in place. That way, in the event of a collision, the wearer is held in the seat. They won’t hit the dashboard, the door, or the roof, and they won’t be sent flying through the windshield. This invention has saved millions of lives since it was implemented over 80 years ago. However, that does not mean it is completely safe. Even when functioning correctly, seat belts can still cause serious injuries.
The restricting nature of the seat belt means that a lot of pressure is put on your chest and abdomen. When a seat belt holds you in place, it stops the inertia of your body. Thus, the energy is redirected back into you. In more minor accidents, this redirection of energy is not enough to injure you beyond some bruising. In serious, high-speed accidents, you can suffer catastrophic injuries along ribcage, abdomen, and shoulders. But that is only if it works. If a seat belt fails, you could be sent flying forward and strike your head or through a windshield.
Common seat belt-related injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Brain damage
- Spinal injuries
- Organ damage or internal bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries
A seat belt can even lead to a punctured lung. The ribs are often the first bone to break from seat belt restriction, and the edges can be sent backward into the lung, or even the heart, causing tears and punctures. This can lead to serious internal bleeding, as well as making it difficult, or even impossible, to breathe.
Needless to say, seat belt injuries are no laughing matter and can endanger your life. However, it is important to remember that, in the case that your seat belt worked correctly, the root cause of the injury was the accident itself. That being said, if your seat belt malfunctions, that is a different issue altogether.
The seat belt is supposed to keep you from hitting the inside of the car or from being sent out of the window in the event of an accident. Both scenarios are very likely when a belt malfunctions and were once commonplace before the three-point seatbelt was widely used by car manufacturers. Being thrown against the interior of your car, or being thrown out of the car altogether, are both incredibly dangerous, even deadly. You could suffer from a cracked skull, broken spine, brain damage, and experience severe road rash.
Sadly, like any auto part, seat belts can be defective. In our experience, there are a few ways that seat belts will most commonly malfunction. Those include:
False latching: False latching happens when you slide the belt into the clip, but the clip doesn’t actually lock in place. This means that even a minor amount of force could cause the seat belt to come undone and lead to you being thrown from your seat.
Internal unlatching: In addition to false latching, a seat belt can unlatch internally, leaving the clip unlocked and you in an incredibly unsafe and vulnerable position.
Mount misplacement: As its name implies, a three-point seat belt is attached to your car at three separate points. Two points will likely be attached on either side of your seat, with a third mounted above you on the side of the car. If these mounts are improperly placed, it could lead to your seat belt being too lax, meaning it will not hold you in place during an accident.
Weaving defects: The material of the belt is made from an incredibly strong woven material that can withstand a large amount of force. However, if this material is not woven correctly, that could cause it to unravel or break over time, making it incredibly unsafe to use.
Lock failures: Within the seat belt there is a mechanism that retracts and lock in place when the belt is yanked on with enough force. If this mechanism fails, the belt is all but useless and can allow your body to be thrown forward from the force of the impact.
Finding the liable party for your seat belt injury will depend on how your injuries happened. It is impossible to say for sure who is liable without looking into the circumstances around your accident, but in our experience, there are a few parties most often at fault:
The other driver: Your seat belt may have been working perfectly, holding you in place and keeping you from slamming into objects in your car. But if you were involved in a severe accident, the force exerted could still cause the seat belt to constrict your chest and cause catastrophic trauma. In this case, the driver that was at-fault for the accident would be the one liable for your injuries.
The manufacturer: If your seat belt malfunctioned, then the manufacturer of that seat belt could be the party responsible for your injuries. Manufacturers, especially of safety features in cars, should be held to a high standard and should never get away with negligent behavior.
Both: If you were involved in a car accident, and your seat belt malfunction, causing you to become more injured than you would have if the belt functioned properly, then both the at-fault driver and the manufacturer of the seat belt may be liable. While the seat belt would have never caused you harm if the at-fault driver didn’t cause an accident, you would have also suffered from fewer injuries if the seat belt functioned correctly. This means that you may be able to file a claim against both parties. Of course, filing a claim requires a skilled attorney’s expertise.
The legal team at The Lenahan Law Firm specializes in severe injury cases. We only assign a handful of cases to our attorneys to ensure that we can give our clients the time and attention their case deserves. If you were injured in an auto accident and suffered a catastrophic seat belt injury, our team can thoroughly investigate your case and work to get you full compensation from the at-fault party. Our Dallas auto accident attorneys are dedicated to helping others and can offer the strong legal support you need. To get started on your case, call our firm at (214) 295-1008 and schedule a free consultation.
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