Seat belts save lives. This is one of the reasons why it is especially heartbreaking when your loved one is severely injured or killed in a Los Angeles car accident involving a defective seat belt. Unfortunately, defective seat belts are more common than you may think. Indeed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), estimates that as many as 3 million people each year are injured when seat belts fail and nearly 40,000 people die from this preventable auto defect. In rollover accidents, seat belt failure is one the primary factors that contributes to serious injury or death.
California Law and Seat Belts
Under California law, no person can operate a vehicle on a highway unless the driver and all passengers aged 16 or older are wearing a safety belt. This law applies to passengers riding in the front seat as well as in the back. The California seat belt law is found in the Motor Vehicle Code § 27315 and is strictly enforced. Traffic fatalities have been reported to be steadily dropping since 2008 and some contribute this to the increase in seatbelt usage.
The seat belt should be a lap belt that crosses at the hips and upper thighs. If there is an upper portion to the belt, then it should cross the chest. The motor vehicle owner is responsible for providing functioning seat belts. However, some seat belts are simply defective and there was no way the owner of the car could have known. In this case, you may be able to bring a legal claim against the manufacturer of the seat belt.
Defective Seat Belts
There are a few reasons that seat belts, which are supposed to keep people safe, do the exact opposite. The issue could be a design, manufacturing, or installation flaw. A few of the most common seat belt defects include:
- Inertial unlatching– the force during a crash causes certain types seat belts to become unlatched.
- False latching– the seat belt might look and feel as if it’s securely attached, but it is not actually fully engaged. Takata recalled more than 8 million vehicles for this issue.
- Webbing defects– Seat belts are constructed to withstand tremendous degrees of force, so if a belt rips, there could be a defect in the material.
- Retractor failure– When a car accident occurs, the seat belt retractor is meant to lock and hold the occupant in place. If this locking device fails or if excess slack is released, the results could be catastrophic
- Poorly-mounted systems– The most effective seat belt anchor systems are mounted to the vehicle’s seats.
These are just a few of the things that could go wrong with your seat belt causing injury or even death. If you or a loved one was severely injured by a defective seat belt, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. Reimbursement for medical bills, physical therapy, lost wages, emotional pain and suffering are available to victims of defective seat belts.
For a free, no obligation consultation about your defective car accident case, whether it is for you or a loved one, contact the experienced accident attorneys at Ghozland Law Firm today.