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Most of us have received many warnings from parents, government agencies, and media about wearing a seatbelt. There is a reason we hear so much about wearing a seatbelt, though—they can save lives when used properly. However, this depends on the seatbelt functioning properly, which is something that drivers and passengers can’t always depend on.
If you were in an automobile accident and a Mercedes seat belt defect led to your injuries, then you may need the help of a products liability attorney to seek compensation you may be entitled to. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury caused by a seat belt defect, call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with Zinda Law Group.
Seat Belt injury Statistics
Fortunately, many Americans understand the importance of buckling your seatbelt every time they get into a vehicle. In 2019, the national use rate for seatbelts was 90.7%. In addition, those seatbelts saved an estimated 14,995 lives in 2017. Seatbelts are one of the most important vehicle safety measures that exists today, but they are only effective if they are used by all drivers and passengers and are functioning properly.
On the other hand, when seat belts are not worn, the consequences can be devastating. In 2017 alone, NHTSA estimates that an additional 2,549 lives could have been saved if seatbelts had been worn. Also, of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in 2019, 47% of them were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of their accident. What all of these statistics reveal is that a properly functioning seatbelt is extremely important for all drivers and passengers on the road.
Seat Belt Failure injuries
When seat belts fail, the potential range of injuries is varied and potentially severe. During an accident, if the seat belt is not working properly, the driver or passenger essentially becomes an unrestrained occupant and can be thrown in any which direction. Some of the injuries that can result in such an accident include:
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue encompasses all of the body’s connective tissue, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Injuries to the soft tissue are some of the most common in car accidents, and they can vary widely in type and severity. One of the more common soft tissue injuries is whiplash, which occurs when the muscles and ligaments in the upper back and neck are stretched unnaturally due to the whiplike motion of the head back and forth.
Scrapes and Cuts
When a seatbelt is working properly, it will hold the driver or passenger more or less in one spot in the vehicle. Though they can’t prevent all injuries from happening, seatbelts can help to lessen their severity. When a Mercedes seat belt defect causes the system to stop working, a passenger can be thrown around the vehicle and even out of a window or the windshield. This can lead to scrapes and cuts from objects inside the vehicle, or gashes or punctures from broken window glass.
One of the ways that seat belts work is to keep the heads of drivers and passengers relatively stable, ensuring that they do not collide with objects inside the vehicle or the walls of the vehicle itself. Head injuries can be relatively small in the form of minor concussions, but they can also be extremely serious, leading to brain damage, paralysis, or even death.
Products liability cases
Before talking specifically about cases involving a Mercedes seat belt defect, it is important to understand negligence and products liability more generally. In order to recover in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party will need to establish in the majority of cases that the other party was acting negligently. In order to do this, the party seeking compensation will need to prove that the other party had a legal duty to act in a certain way, that they then breached this duty, that this breach was the cause of their injuries, and that they suffered actual damages.
In a case involving a broken Mercedes seat belt, negligence will typically be established in one of two ways. First, a manufacturing defect claim will seek to prove that there was a defect at some point during the manufacturing process that ultimately led to the product itself being defective. A design defect claim is the other main type of products liability claim, and it differs in that the plaintiff must prove that there was a defect in the design of the product. In other words, the seat belt could have been made exactly according to plan, but the plan itself was defective.
Another element that may apply to your case, depending on the state that you are in, is strict liability. Strict liability is the legal term for the application of liability without a finding of fault. If a product is defective, and those defects led to injury, then under a theory of strict liability, the producer of that product will be held liable even if it is impossible to prove that they did anything wrong.
types of seat belt failures
While there has been a lot of research and progress in the area of seatbelt design, there are still a few ways in which seat belts can potentially fail.
False latching occurs when the seatbelt appears to be buckled but is actually not. This can be because of user error or internal friction inside the seat belt itself. This problem can also occur if there is a slot near the actual slot that a user might accidentally insert the latching mechanism into. If a driver or passenger is falsely latched, they may believe themselves to be safe when in actuality they are not.
In order to function properly, the webbing, or the strap that crosses the chest and shoulder of the user, must be strong and free of imperfections. If there is a manufacturing defect at some point along the way, the webbing can be left vulnerable to rips and tears. These rips and tears can prove fatal in the event of an accident.
Most seat belts in vehicles feature an automatic retractor, which is the feature that pulls the seat belt tight against the user’s body when a collision occurs. If the automatic retractor malfunctions during an accident, then the efficacy of the seat belt can be greatly reduced. Retractor failures can also lead to webbing failures as the webbing snaps under the force of a moving body.
filing a seat belt claim against Daimler Mercedes
No two personal injury claims will ever look exactly the same. This is even true in the case of the narrower field of claims involving Mercedes seat belt defects. However, there are a few general steps that will be completed in most claims.
1. Contact an Experienced Attorney
The first thing that you will need as an accident victim is a lawyer near you. An experienced attorney will be able to help you in a number of ways. First, they will evaluate the facts of the situation that you provide and give an estimate of whether you have a case that is worth pursuing, an estimate of what that case could possibly be worth, and how to best pursue compensation. At every step along the way, your attorney should be available to answer any questions that you may have in a timely manner and provide updates as to what is happening in your case.
2. Research and Investigate
After you have hired an attorney, they can get to work doing the necessary research and investigation for your case. In a seat belt failure claim, this can include looking into the manufacturing process of the seat belt producer, researching the laws and statutes that could apply, and conducting interviews and depositions with any party or witness who may become important.
3. Negotiate a Settlement
After your lawyer has had a chance to gather all of the relevant information, they can begin the process of negotiating a settlement with the other parties involved. Most personal injury cases will resolve through a settlement, given the large amounts of time and money that are required to take a case to trial. Thus, it is critical to hire an experienced attorney who will be able to put forth a strong argument for maximum compensation at this stage, which will involve emphasizing the strong points of your case while minimizing any weaknesses that it might have.
Call zinda law group today at (800) 863-5312
Not only can the aftermath of a seat malfunction accident be very stressful, but it can also be very confusing. Unlike a typical car accident where the other driver will typically be the obvious candidate for who might be liable for your injuries, the picture of who could be liable in a seatbelt defect case can be a bit cloudier.
Zinda Law Group is standing by, ready to help you and your family through this extremely difficult time. When you call (800) 863-5312, you’ll be invited to schedule a 100% free consultation about your case. What’s more, you won’t pay our no win no pay lawyers anything until we win your case for you. This is because we offer you our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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