Seat belts protect motorists from injury—that is, unless they have a serious defect. Click here to see the three restraint flaws that can put you at risk.

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What are some common seat belt defects?

 

A:

Proper safety belt use is essential for motorist safety. So much so, that almost every state has specific safety belt laws requiring children and adults alike to wear proper restraints while riding in moving vehicles. Furthermore, the “Click it or ticket” campaign, which urges motorists to habitually wear their seat belts, has become a nationally recognized safety campaign. However, despite these laws and urgings, thousands of people are injured and die in motor vehicle crashes every year as a result of improper restraints.

The majority of these injuries are a direct result of improper use such as:

  • Failure to secure the buckle
  • Failure to wear lap belt correctly (too high or too low)
  • Failure to wear the shoulder strap correctly (in front, not behind)
  • Failure to wear restraint at all

However, a significant number of fatalities and severe injuries also occur to those who do properly wear their restraints. Why is this? Because of seat belt defects.

Dangerous Seat Belt Flaws

The basic mechanics a three-point seat belt are simple. There are two heavy-duty straps that secure into three points on a seat: above the shoulder, by the right hip bone, and near the left hip bone (child car seats points are slightly different and employ a four-point system). Once secured, the restraint firmly holds the wearer into the seat, preventing him from being tossed around by potential outside forces. However, if any part of this system is flawed, the entire seat belt can lose its ability to restrain the wearer.

There are several reasons a seat belt can fail during an accident. These flaws can occur in the following components:

  • Seat belt fabric. Seat belts are manufactured using specific webbing (tightly woven polyester filaments). This webbing needs to have an extremely high tensile strength in order to withstand pressures exceeding 300 pounds per inch. If the fabric is weak or the webbing compromised in any way, the filaments can break and the belt can tear. 
  • Buckle and connections. In order for the belt to be secure, all connections—the shoulder point, hip points and buckle—need to be tightly fastened and working correctly. If a connection is loose, the retractor fails, or the buckle isn’t locked then the restraint is useless.
  • Retractors.  Most window side seat belts retract the belt into the seat to prevent clutter. This presents an unusual issue as the wearer must depend on the capability of the retractor when buckling as well as during an accident. Since the belt retracts and releases, the mechanism inside the seat must be able to lock properly during an accident. Otherwise, when the wearer is forcefully pushed forward, the belt would just advance rather than keeping the restraint. On the other hand, if the feeding mechanism locks and won’t release, the wearer may not be able to buckle in the first place.

You May Need the Help of an Experienced Attorney

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident as a result of a defective seat belt or safety feature, you may be entitled to damage compensation. Gathering the evidence needed and proving fault for your claim can be difficult without help from a seasoned accident lawyer. Contact our Bellevue office today and see how we can help you secure the compensation you need for your medical debts and damages.