There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a car wreck. The worst one is the seat belt giving out.
Whether you know it or not, there are far more defective seat belts on the road than you might think. Since this is one of the most important safety features in a vehicle, having a defective seat belt is not in your best interests. It may be the death of you.
The startling thing is that many of the car makers have known about these seat belt defects for years and have kept silent about them; a fact that may find its way into the courtroom when a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer is representing a client.
The whole idea of wearing a seat belt is to keep you in your seat and stop you from making a second collision inside the car. The first impact is when you get hit by another vehicle and the second is when you are flung forward in your seat. Without a seat belt, chances are your next view will be through the windshield; a view you may not live to see again. Being ejected from a car during a crash is quite often fatal, but if it isn’t, the injuries sustained tend to be catastrophic and life-altering.
What causes seat belts to fail? That’s the $64,000 question. Largely, when seat belts fail to protect their passengers, it is due to defective belt design. In some instances, even a small amount of force will cause the latch to separate and the forward momentum of the body renders the seat belt ineffective.
When they’re working properly, seat belts are the most crucial safety feature in an automobile. Unfortunately, there are way too many vehicles on the road today with defective seat belts. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of torn webbing. When the belt is ripped or torn in half during a collision, the end result isn’t pretty.
Normally, if the seat belts are up to the stringent safety requirements that manufacturers are required to live up to, the material and the webbing should be designed to withstand a major force without tearing. When manufacturers cut corners, use cheaper materials or webbing and don’t test their end products that well, you have a potential disaster on wheels just waiting to happen. Often, when handling a car wreck case where the driver was ejected, it’s evidence like this that a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer will present in court.
Another common seat belt defect is referred to as retractor failure. If the retractor fails to lock properly, the webbing reels out and makes the seat belt slack. This slack can mean the difference between being held securely in your seat during an accident and catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Retractor failure can be a design or manufacturing defect and any savvy New Hampshire personal injury lawyer will know what to look for in cases like this. It’s eminently reasonable to ask why someone was badly injured in a car wreck if they were wearing a seat belt; a belt supposedly designed to save lives, not take them.
One glaring example of a failed direct drive retractor is something called skip-lock that happens when the retractor lock bar doesn’t lock the webbing into place with the root of the tooth. Shockingly, the auto industry says this does not happen. On the contrary, it has been well documented and this fact also appears in General Motor’s internal research projects.
If you have been in an accident and your seat belt gave away, talk to a skilled New Hampshire personal injury lawyer and find out what your options and rights are to claim compensation. You have every right to expect your seat belt to work and if it doesn’t, someone is responsible for your injuries.
Charlie Donahue is a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer located in Keene. Donahue handles injury cases in New Hampshire and across the United States. To learn more about New Hampshire injury attorney, Charlie Donahue, visit Donahuelawfirm.com.