According to the Center for Disease Control, seatbelts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. It comes as no surprise that seatbelts are a required safety feature in all vehicles sold in the U.S. However, when a car manufacturer puts out a defective seatbelt, or uses substandard materials in their seatbelts, the safety feature can fail, putting the occupants in harm's way. A number of people are injured every year due to defective seatbelts.
The U.S. passed the first seatbelt law which took effect in 1968. The law required all vehicles to be equipped with seatbelts in all designated seating areas. Currently, the law requires a three-point seatbelt in all seating positions for vehicles. Additionally, under Maryland state law, all drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts.
The standard 3-point seatbelt provides a number of protections for drivers and passengers. When a seatbelt is working properly, it can greatly reduce injuries in a car accident. A seatbelt keeps the individuals inside the vehicle in a crash, protecting them from being thrown from the safety of the vehicle's interior. A 3-point belt also spreads the force of the accident across the body. The force is distributed across the lap and across the chest, putting less stress in any single area.
A seatbelt also restrains the largest, strongest, and heaviest parts of the body. By strapping in over the lap and across the chest, a seatbelt keeps in individual securely in their seat, even in a serious car accident. This reduces the risk of a person's body flying forward, striking the dashboard or steering wheel. It also secures the occupants back against the seat, reducing the risk of spinal injuries in an accident.
Defective Seatbelt Recalls
A number of vehicles have been recalled over the years because of defective seatbelts, including General Motors, Toyota, and Nissan. Toyota has recalled almost 3 million 4x4 vehicles produced between 2005 and 2016. In a severe head-on collision, the lap-shoulder seatbelts in the second-row seats could contact a portion of the metal seat cushion frame, cutting the webbing. This could result in the seatbelt not properly holding the occupant. There have been at least two reports of seatbelts separating in car crashes, one resulting in death for a passenger in Canada.
General Motors announce a recall of over a million vehicles related to a seatbelt defect, including Chevy Silverado's and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks. According to GM, the steel cable that connects the seatbelt to the vehicle body can weaken over time as the cable is repeatedly bent. In the event of an accident, the cable can separate, loosening the protection for the occupant. While GM has said there have been no reported injuries, they are recalling the vehicles to install an additional bracket.
Nissan is recalling over 600,000 Sentras over a seatbelt problem. The front passenger seat belt bracket can become deformed over time when the bracket is used with a child seat. This can result in the vehicle turning off the air bag system. In the event of an accident, the airbag may fail to deploy, resulting in a possibly fatal injury to the passenger.
Defective Seat Belt Injuries
Drivers expect their seatbelts to help protect them in an accident. However, when a defective seat belt fails, it can result in serious injuries to drivers and passengers. The impact of a seat belt malfunction may depend on the type of accident. Rollover accidents or multiple vehicle accidents may be more dangerous in the event of a seat belt malfunction.
If a seatbelt tears or separates, the driver can be thrown against the interior of the vehicle, resulting in broken bones, head, neck or back injuries, or even death. If a seatbelt mechanism releases in the event of an accident, the occupant can be thrown from the vehicle, causing additional injury, or leaving them in the path of speeding vehicles.
Maryland Defective Seat Belt Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective seat belt, the car company and any individuals responsible should pay for their negligence. Dealing with an injury involving a vehicle defect can be complicated. You may have a difficult time dealing with the insurance company, identifying who is responsible, and making sure they pay for your injuries. At Gilman & Bedigian, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience aggressively pursuing compensation for injury victims and their families. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury in a car accident in Maryland, please contact our law offices as soon as possible.