Wearing a seat belt is the most effective thing vehicle occupants can do to protect themselves in the event of a collision. Seat belts save thousands of lives every year – in fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that buckling up saved more than 62,000 lives between 2008 and 2012. It’s no wonder seat belt use in the United States reached 88.5 percent in 2015.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of a seat belt in protecting a vehicle occupant substantially decreases when a component is defectively designed. Below are a few possible ways a defective seat belt can fail during a collision and lead to death or serious injuries.
- Buckle releases from latch
- False latching
- Seat belt detaches from anchor
- Belt webbing material tears
- Retractor fails, causing excessive slack
Lap belts – those without a shoulder restraint component – are common in older vehicle models and are known to severely injure people in a motor vehicle accident. In addition, automatic front seat belt systems are not always used properly, as the lap belt component requires manual buckling. Without the lap restraint in use, the vehicle occupant can slide under the shoulder belt during a crash and collide with the interior of the vehicle.
It’s often difficult to determine whether a seat belt failed in a collision, especially if the vehicle occupants were killed. This complex investigation process requires the skill and knowledge of an experienced product defect attorney.
Contact Anapol Weiss for assistance if you suspect a seat belt failed in a motor vehicle crash. We can investigate the accident and determine if a seat belt failed to provide adequate protection.