Defective Seat Belts

Defective seat belts have injured many people in Missouri. In product liability lawsuits, lawyers for injured people investigate the facts to determine if the seat belt did not function properly or was defectively designed.

In a car wreck, people rely upon seat belts to absorb the enormous forces exerted on their bodies. When seat belts fail, the energy and forces meant to be distributed to the seat belt are instead absorbed by the car wreck victim, which often results in serious personal injury, greatly in excess than what would have been otherwise endured.

Attorneys that handle product liability lawsuits against car manufacturers for defective seat belts often refer to them as “crashworthiness cases.” In a crashworthiness case, the injured victim claims the car manufacturer was negligent in the design of the seat belt system or that the seat belt was somehow defective.

Over the years, there have been numerous lawsuits involving different types of seat belt injuries.

Seatbelt Inertial Unlatching Claims

Missouri car accident lawyers know that seat belts with front-facing release buttons have been the subject of numerous product liability lawsuits. In these cases, the seat belt unexpectedly releases and the car accident victim is seriously injured. This is called inertial unlatching. This happens when the person in the seat begins forward travel after impact. This energy can be so great, it actually causes the release spring to become depressed, releasing the seat belt. At that time, there is nothing holding the latch within the buckle and the latch moves out of the buckle.

Chrysler GEN 3 Seat Belt Claims

Car wreck personal injury attorneys who handle product liability claims against car manufacturers know that from 1993 to 2002, Chrysler utilized what is called a GEN 3 seat belt buckle in approximately 14,000,000 vehicles. The problem with these defective seat belts is that the release button is raised from the rest of the mechanism, making it vulnerable to depression in a car accident. The slight bump from a body part or flying object within a vehicle can cause the button to become depressed, causing the seat belt to become unlatched.

While some groups have called upon Chrysler to recall these vehicles, it has not done so. If you were injured in a Chrysler vehicle and the seat belt because unlatched, you may have a defective GEN 3 product liability claim.

Automatic Seat Belts

Car manufacturers began placing automatic safety belts into vehicles in response to federal legislation mandating active restraint systems in vehicles. In 1984, the United States passed legislation that required all vehicles made after April 1, 1989 to have either a driver’s airbag or automatic seat belts. Auto manufacturers realized this meant incorporating airbags into vehicles or equipping vehicles with automatic seat belts. Since seat belts were a more expensive proposition, many manufacturers chose to go with automatic seat belts.

Vehicles utilized two main types of automatic seat belts. First, a manual lap belt combined with an automatic shoulder belt. Second, a system that automated both the lap and shoulder belts. Both of these seat belt designs were very hazardous and caused numerous injuries. The automatic seat belt systems never fit right. In addition, those that were connected to the door frame were virtually useless when a car wreck caused the door to open.

If you own one of these cars, we recommend replacing it. If you were injured in a vehicle utilizing an automatic seat belt system, please contact us for a free evaluation of your seat belt product liability case.


February 20th, 2014 by Ryan E. Bradley

Ryan Bradley is a trial lawyer and owner of The Bradley Law Firm. He specializes in catastrophic personal injury ad wrongful death cases.

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