Nearly all states in the United States today have mandatory seat belt laws. However, the effect that these laws have on civil lawsuits following car accident injuries varies. For instance, failure to wear seat belts is frequently not the cause or contributing factor of injury. In fact, many injuries caused by accidents would occur regardless of seat belt use or not.
Insurance companies and defense lawyers often attempt to show that certain injuries were the result of a lack of seat belt use. In actuality, injuries may occur whether or not a seat belt was used or if a defective seat belt caused the injury.
For this reason, individuals should not assume that they cannot recover damages even if they were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of an accident. Each individual case is different. Even if failure to wear a seat belt may have made injuries worse, it does not mean that a victim loses all ability to recover for his/her injuries. In many cases, the fact that the victim was not wearing a seat belt may lower a monetary award, but does not eliminate it entirely.
Defective seat belts are an underappreciated risk. Travelers logically assume that when they are buckled in, the belt was made and installed correctly to provide the desired protection. Federal regulators note that some of the most common problems with defective seat belts include:
a) Inertial unlatching: when a latch becomes unlatched during a collision;
b) Weak durability: when the material is not sufficient to hold the wearer securely as needed; and
c) False latching: when a belt appears to be latched but is not, often pulling free with minimal pressure.
If you think you or a loved one might have been harmed as a result of a defective seat belt or were not wearing a seat belt during an accident, it is important to reach out to a legal professional to learn about your options.
The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP can provide the experienced legal help you need. The firm can be reached at 1-800-624-8888 or you can fill out a free online case evaluation form. The initial consultation is always free. If we pursue your case, there is no legal fee unless we are successful in getting you money.
Timing is important, because statutes of limitation affect how long you have to file a claim.