Seat belts restrain drivers and passengers in a vehicle and protect them in a car accident. When a vehicle rider fastens their seat belt, they presume it will keep them secure and safe if an accident happens. Unfortunately, however, that does not always happen, and some seat belts may actually cause drivers and passengers to suffer serious injuries – in addition to the injuries they already suffer due to their accident!
In many accident situations, the manufacturer’s negligence directly leads to seat belt injuries. In those cases, an injured accident victim can file a product liability claim against the seat belt manufacturer or some other entity within the product distribution chain.
You are not alone if you suffered seat belt injuries in a recent motor vehicle accident. However, you need to consult with an experienced product liability attorney near you as quickly as possible about your case.
Your lawyer can review your accident with you and determine if you can file a successful product liability claim. Your lawyer can also retain a qualified expert to investigate your car accident and seat belt injuries and testify as a witness in your claim or lawsuit.
If you are eligible to move forward with a product liability claim, your attorney can advocate for you at every stage of the proceedings and seek the monetary compensation and damages you deserve for your accident-related losses.
Proving a Product Liability Claim or Lawsuit Based upon Negligence
In a product liability claim e that stems from someone else’s negligence, the injured victim has the sole legal burden of proof. If a driver or passenger suffers a seat belt injury in an auto accident, they can file a claim or lawsuit against the seat belt manufacturer or another party in the product distribution chain.
To recover monetary compensation, the victim must first establish that the manufacturer owed them a legal duty of care. It is clear that seat belt manufacturers, designers, and distributors have a duty to design seat belts using the proper materials and in the appropriate way so that they safely restrain drivers and passengers in an accident. Manufacturers also must properly install seat belts in vehicles.
The injured accident victim must also show that the seat belt manufacturer or distributor violated their legal duty of care somehow. For example, they might not have designed the seat belt properly or installed it in the vehicle correctly. Similarly, they might have failed to use suitable materials when creating a seat belt to protect motor vehicle occupants.
Next, the accident victim must demonstrate that their injury or injuries resulted as a direct result of the product manufacturer or distributor’s negligence or carelessness.
In defective seat belt cases, several types of experts can be beneficial. A qualified expert in seat belt manufacturing, design, or assembly can testify that the product manufacturer made a mistake in the manufacturing or design process, resulting in the seat belt malfunctioning in an accident. Similarly, a medical expert can establish that the accident victim’s seat belt injuries directly resulted from the seat belt malfunction.
A skilled product liability attorney can ensure your case satisfies the legal burden of proof so that you are eligible to recover the monetary compensation and damages you need for your injuries and losses.
Common Seat Belt Injuries
Serious injuries may occur when a seat belt does not work correctly in an accident and fails to properly restrain a driver or passenger.
The specific injuries that an accident victim may suffer will depend upon the amount of restraint (or lack thereof) that the seat belt provided, whether the accident victim struck something in their vehicle (such as the window, steering wheel, or headrest) as a result of the seat belt malfunction, and the accident victim’s other bodily movements during the crash.
Some of the most common injuries that an accident victim might suffer due to a defective seat belt include:
- Brush burn injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Open lacerations
- Traumatic head injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Shoulder injuries
- Internal organ damage (including to the intestines)
- Complete and incomplete paralysis injuries
- Full and partial spinal cord injuries
If you suffered any of these injuries because of a seat belt malfunction during an accident, you need to consult with a medical provider and, more importantly, complete all of your medical treatment.
Medical providers, including specialists and primary care doctors, may recommend that you undergo a medical procedure, consult with another doctor, or attend physical therapy sessions. By completing your medical treatment fully, you ensure you recover from your seat belt injury as much as possible.
You also show the insurance company that you suffered one or more severe injuries in your accident and deserve to recover favorable monetary damages.
While you focus on recovering from your seat belt injuries, your lawyer can handle the various legal aspects of your case, including gathering essential documents and retaining an expert witness who can testify at a deposition or jury trial in your case.
Filing a Timely Product Liability Claim or Lawsuit Against the Seat Belt Manufacturer
If you sustained seat belt injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you can file a product liability claim against the seat belt manufacturer. You can also pursue a claim against the seat belt designer, distributor, installer, or other entity in the chain of product distribution.
Your seat belt injury lawyer can file this claim and pursue the favorable monetary compensation you deserve.
However, always remember that insurance companies are challenging to deal with and are unlikely to offer you fair monetary compensation for your injuries – at least at the beginning.
Insurance companies will do everything possible to resolve claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. After all, if they can avoid paying out significant monetary compensation to settle a claim, they will do so.
Insurance companies want to try and keep as much of their money in-house as possible – and distribute these funds to shareholders – by undermining the value of product liability and personal injury claims. In some situations, the insurance company might even contend that the injured driver or passenger did something to cause or contribute to their injuries.
Fortunately, a product liability lawyer in your area can combat the insurance company’s tactics and aggressively pursue the monetary damages you deserve for your seat belt injuries. For example, your attorney can point to an expert’s report claiming that the seat belt injuries directly resulted from defects in the seat belt.
Additionally, your lawyer can point to various medical records that show that your injuries are consistent with a defective or malfunctioning seat belt.
If the insurance company adjuster still refuses to offer you the monetary compensation you deserve, you can file a lawsuit and litigate your product liability case in court.
Your attorney will be with you throughout every stage of the proceedings and can represent you at a discovery deposition, settlement conference, or civil jury trial. If your case has not reached a resolution by the end of litigation, you can take the matter to a civil jury trial. At trial, a jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues in the case, including monetary compensation and damages.
As an alternative to a civil jury trial, your lawyer can pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) on your behalf, such as a mediation hearing or binding arbitration proceeding.
In short, your lawyer can advise whether it is a good idea to accept a pending settlement offer from the insurance company, given the facts and circumstances of your claim, or whether you should take your case to court.
Recoverable Monetary Damages in a Seat belt Injury Claim or Lawsuit
In a seat belt injury claim or lawsuit, an accident victim may be eligible to recover various monetary damages. First, they must satisfy the legal elements of their claim. If they can accomplish this goal, they can recover multiple types and amounts of monetary damages, depending upon the overall scope of their injuries and the cost of their medical treatment.
First, an accident victim who suffers a seat belt injury can recover their past and future medical expenses. If they had to miss work time and lost significant income due to their seat belt injuries, they can pursue a claim for loss of earning capacity or for lost income.
In addition to economic damages, a seat belt injury victim can receive compensation for their intangible losses.
Those losses can include monetary recovery for their:
- Loss of the ability to use a body part (such as from paralysis)
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Lost quality of life
- Lifetime care costs
- Long-term care costs
- Mental anguish and distress
- Permanent disfiguring injuries
- Physical pain and suffering
Based on the facts and circumstances of your case and the extent of your injuries, your attorney can estimate your case’s total value. Your lawyer can then pursue favorable compensation on your behalf through a settlement or litigate your claim to an efficient resolution in the state court system.
Speak with an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer in Your Area Today
After any type of injury, the last thing anyone wants to worry about is how they will pay their bills or spend hours on the phone with the insurance company. When you hire a personal injury lawyer after an injury, you give yourself peace of mind, knowing you’ve given yourself the best chance to make yourself whole again.
You are not alone if you suffered injuries from a defective seat belt in a motor vehicle crash. However, you need to retain an experienced product liability attorney to represent you in your case as soon as possible. Waiting too long may ultimately jeopardize your case and your legal right to recover monetary compensation and damages.
According to the statute of limitations, accident victims only have two years to file a product liability lawsuit in the court system. Absent several minimal circumstances, if they fail to file a timely lawsuit in their case, the court will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages for their losses. Therefore, you need to act quickly when seeking out and retaining an experienced attorney to represent you.
Once you retain skilled legal counsel to represent you in your case, your attorney can begin advocating for you aggressively and pursuing the compensation you deserve to recover for your injuries. Most importantly, your lawyer can do all this for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries.