Seat belts, when functioning correctly can reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, according to the CDC. Seat belt failure is a rare but dangerous occurrence in course of an accident. In some cases, a seat belt defect may be relatively obvious, such as in the case where the webbing of the seat belt is completely torn. Other cases, however, may not be so obvious.
Some common causes of seat belt failure:
- Seat belt latch failure. A seat belt buckle can unlatch inadvertently, which can be caused by inertial unlatching, false latching, and inadvertent unlatching.
- Spooling. Spooling occurs when too much of the seat belt webbing is let out, which causes movement in the occupant.
- Retractor failure. Retractor failure occurs when the lock or tightening of the seat belt should take place to immediate confine the occupant securely, but this action does not occur.
Investigating the Cause of Seat Belt Failure
In an accident, it’s important to understand exactly what happened to the occupants of the vehicle. In many cases, the occupants will be thrown around in the course of the accident and may end up in a position in which they are completely unsecured by a seat belt. When this occurs, we want to know why this happened.
Some vehicles are equipped only with lap belts, and no shoulder strap, particularly in the backseat, a feature that has caused thousands of traumatic injuries. Some passive restraining systems encourage users to utilize only the shoulder strap, without the lap belt, which can cause significant injuries in collisions.
Sometimes, the simple geometry or layout of the seat belt system is such that it will necessarily allow occupant excursion during a crash and render the restraint system ineffective. Improperly loose “torsion bars” in seat belt retractors can cause excessive spooling.
A passenger may have clearly come loose from a seat belt but it is unclear why this occurred. In these cases, often experts will be required to examine the seat belt to see if there was a seat belt malfunction.
Seat Belt Failure Attorney
The Dysart Law Firm P.C. is committed to helping those who have been injured due to seat belt failure. If you or a loved one have been injured due to seat belt failure please reach out.