Miami Seat Belt Injuries Lawyer
Motor vehicle accidents take over 40,000 lives annually in the United States. Accidents on the country’s streets and highways are the most common cause of death for people under 35 years, and they result in the loss of as many productive years of life as are lost as the result of cardiovascular disease and cancer. In fact, more than twice as many lives have been lost on the highways as a result of motor vehicle accidents than have been lost in all the nation’s wars combined. Every motor vehicle accident involves two collisions. The first collision occurs when the crash car collides with another vehicle, a stationary barrier, or the roadway in case of a rollover. The second collision occurs when the occupant of the crash car collides with the car’s interior components or an exterior object, including the ground, if the occupant is ejected. If the occupant of the crash car is wearing a functional seatbelt, all or most of the interior contacts of the second collision may be avoided and ejection prevented. When a seatbelt fails in operation, however, the occupant is deprived of that protection.
A belt that comes unbuckled or pulls loose in a crash provides as little protection as a belt that is not worn; and, when accidents occur, death and injury result that should have been preventable. While owner abuse in maintenance and misuse in the adjustment of a seatbelt may account for some failures in operation, the majority of seatbelt failures are attributable to defects in the design, manufacture, assembly, and installation of the seatbelt and the component parts of its assembly.
Types of Injuries from Defective Seatbelts
Seat belt failures are more common that most people realize. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), estimates that as many as 3 million people each year are injured when seat belts fail and up 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. Many modern seatbelt systems have been found to be inadequate in protecting consumers in vehicle crashes, and defective belts have been implicated in hundreds of deaths and injuries on the highway each year.
The seat belt is the primary restraint system in a vehicle. When car belts fail to work properly, the injuries suffered can be catastrophic or even fatal. When any part of a seat belt malfunctions, the occupant may be partially or fully ejected from the vehicle. Some of the serious injuries that can result from seat belt failure include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, quadriplegia and paraplegia. Internal injuries, bone fractures, organ damage and soft tissue damage could also occur as a result of defective seat belts.
Liability for Defective Seat Belts in a Car Accident
For many years, the passenger car seatbelt assembly has proven to be the single most efficient and cost-effective means available to save lives and injuries in car crashes. However, a car occupant restraint system is not the buyer’s first priority in selecting a new car, and until the advent of mandatory seatbelt use laws, seatbelt usage was disappointingly low. Seatbelt use and technology, however, are entering into a new and important period. By the end of 1989, more than two-thirds of the country’s population must be covered by mandatory seatbelt use laws or all motor vehicles produced after that time will be built with “passive” occupant crash protection devices (automatic seatbelts or airbags) which require no action on the part of the wearer to operate. When a seatbelt assembly functions the way it is supposed to operate, a belted driver or passenger normally is spared much of the injury which results from a crash car’s “second collision,” that is, the injuries resulting from the impact of an occupant’s body with the various components of the car’s interior.
When a seatbelt fails in operation, the occupant is deprived of that protection and, depending on the type of failure, will receive all or most of the injuries that would occur to an unbelted driver or passenger. While owner abuse in maintenance and misuse in the adjustment of a seatbelt may account for some failures in operation, the majority of seatbelt failures are attributable to defects in the design, manufacture, assembly, and installation of the seatbelt and the component parts of its assembly. Like any other motor vehicle component, the failure of a seatbelt to operate in the manner in which it was intended may lead to the civil liability of the manufacturer and seller of the defective seatbelt or the car in which it was installed.
Seeking Compensation After Seat Belt Injuries
We expect car companies to design and make safe vehicles. Sadly, that does not always happen. Car manufacturers sometimes release vehicles into the marketplace before completing proper testing procedures, design vehicles poorly, or sell vehicles containing components known to fail at vital moments. If you or a loved one were injured due to a defective seat belt? Then you may have a product liability claim against the car manufacturer. Under Florida law, a product maker, distributor or seller can be held liable if for the harm caused by a defective product. In general, there are three legal theories for holding manufacturers and others legally responsible for damages caused by defective products:
Strict liability: Product manufacturers may have liability for damages caused by their defective products even if they did not know of the defect or take any negligent action involving the product. The fact that the product has a defect and caused injury is all that is required for legal liability to attach to the manufacturer.
Negligence: Manufacturers have a legal responsibility not to take any action that is reasonably likely to cause a product to harm others.
Breach of warranty: If a product proves to be unsafe or unreliable as promised by the manufacturer, that defect may constitute a breach of an implicit or explicit warranty. Today, this is the least common of the legal claims people can make involving a defective product. Your attorney will need to review all of the documents from the sale of your vehicle in order to determine if there is an express or implied warranty in effect.
How Can an Attorney Help in Case of Defective Seat Belt Injuries?
If you would like to seek compensation for your injuries, the attorney’s at Suarez and Montero can investigate your case in order to fully understand all of the relevant details. Additionally, our attorneys can examine the case law interpreting the policy provisions relied on by the insurance company to determine how to hold the manufacturer accountable for your injuries. In general, to show that a seatbelt defect caused your injury in Florida, a plaintiff must provide evidence to prove the following items:
Defect or failure to warn: The product must be defective in at least one of the three ways described above—in its design, in its manufacture, or in its lack of warnings about an inherent danger.
Injury: The plaintiff must show she suffered an injury while using the product as intended. Causation. The victim must show that the injury was a consequence of the defective product.
Damage: The victim must show she suffered damage that can be compensated for under Florida law.
Call Our Lawyers If You Were Injured Due to a Defective Seat Belt
Driving can be dangerous in Miami. If you were injured in a accident due to a defective seat belt, talk to a car accident attorney about your options going forward. There is no replacement for quality legal advice after being involved in a car accident. The car accident attorneys at Suarez and Montero would love to have an opportunity to explain the law in Florida to assist you in presenting a strong claim against the at fault party. Every firm is distinctive and auto accident victims have needs that are also distinct. The Florida auto accident attorneys at Suarez & Montero encourage you to reach out so that we can explain more about the different ways that our law firm and attorneys can provide legal help and guidance after an auto accident.
Make an appointment with us at one of our many locations. Remember, we work on a contingency basis so you will owe us nothing If we are unable to obtain successful results for your case. The attorneys at Suarez & Montero can meet with you to discuss further. always available to talk with you and answer your questions. Our skillful attorneys are genuinely committed to our clients. We will fight to make sure that you get the maximum amount of compensation owed to you. Let us help you get the medical care you need and fight to make sure you are compensated for your injuries! Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation in pursuing your claim and stand ready to protect your rights. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation.
The Law Offices of Suarez & Montero Car Accident Attorneys represents accident victims injured in various types of accidents including:
Miami Defective Seat Belt Injuries - Blog/News
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends but generally yes. If a plaintiff can show that the manufacturer owed a duty of care to the plaintiff in relation to the product, that the manufacturer breached a duty of care (such as in designing or building the product), and that the product injured the plaintiff. In product liability cases, negligence tends to be more difficult to prove than strict liability, simply because it requires evidence of specific actions the manufacturer (or others involved in producing a product) took. In these types of cases, we can take care of gathering all of the required documentation and evidence to prove your claim.
False latching occurs when the seat belt user attempts to engage the seat belt latching mechanism without actually engaging it. This can occur due to internal friction in the fastening system and can sometimes occur when there is an alternate path that the seat belt can be pushed into that is not the locking mechanism.
Seat belt webbing is normally rated between 5,000 and 6,000-pound breaking strength. Seat belt failures will often involve other parts of the seat belt mechanism and can result in webbing failure below the rated strength. Seat belt failure can also occur due to sharp edges in the car.
The seat belt retractor is the device the locks during an auto accident and holds the vehicle occupant in place. Obviously if the retractor malfunctions and does not lock properly, the occupant will be released to move forward during a collision. Seat belt retractor failure can occur in a variety of ways.