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Atlanta Seat Belt Failure Lawyers

Atlanta Auto Defect Attorneys Represent Seat Belt Failure Victims

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 10,000 lives are saved each year by seat belts and that even more people avoid serious or catastrophic injuries. But what happens when these safety devices fail? At Butler Prather LLP, our Atlanta auto defect lawyers believe that we should be able to trust that the cars we purchase are safe. When a defective seat belt leads to preventable serious injury, we are prepared to hold the manufacturer and/or designer accountable for your injuries, wherever they occur, nationwide.

The personal injury attorneys at Butler Prather LLP have been helping accident victims in Georgia get fair compensation for over 35 years. We won a $127 million verdict in a seat belt malfunction liability lawsuit when a Georgia family suffered injuries in an accident traveling on I-575 in Cobb County.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed due to defective automobile equipment, we can file a claim or lawsuit to help you get the money you need to cover your medical bills and other expenses.

Our skilled litigators have won over a billion dollars in settlements and verdicts for clients in over 30 states. We’ve won nine verdicts exceeding $100 million and over 60 verdicts and settlements surpassing $10 million.

Call us at (706) 322-1990 to schedule a complimentary consultation today.

Dangers Associated with Seat Belt Failures in Car Accidents

A three-point harness system that includes a shoulder and a lap belt can prevent serious injury from the impact of a crash. But a defective seat belt will not. When a seat belt fails, a vehicle occupant may be:

  • Ejected from the car
  • Thrown into the windshield, dash, or other passengers
  • Tossed around the inside of the car if the vehicle rolls over, possibly colliding with the roof, windows, or other parts of the car

This type of auto defect often goes undiscovered until it is too late, resulting in preventable head, neck, or spinal cord injury in the event of an accident.

A seat belt failure may be caused by faulty design, manufacture, or installation that leads to:

  • False Latching or Inertia Unlatching: The seat belt comes unlatched during a crash.
  • Retractor Malfunction: The seat belt does not lock in place during a collision, failing to secure an occupant during a crash.
  • Tears in Belt Webbing Fabric: The seat belt components rip and tear from the impact of a crash.
  • Broken Torsion Bar: These components may be designed to fail on purpose when too much strain is put on the seat belt system.

Who Is Liable in Atlanta Seat Belt Failure Cases?

Automobile product liability laws fall under tort law that holds manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers responsible for injuries caused by defects in their products. In the context of seat belts, these laws apply when a failure or defect in the belt contributes to injury during an accident. To prevail in a seat belt injury lawsuit, you must demonstrate that the seat belt had an inherent defect. This may include inadequate seat belt warnings or instructions.

Manufacturer liability is a critical aspect of seat belt failure in auto accidents. Manufacturers have a duty of care to ensure their products are safe and must conduct rigorous testing to prevent defects. If they fail to meet these standards, and a user is injured as a result, the manufacturer can be held responsible for damages. For example, to establish liability in a seat belt case, it must be proven that the seat belt had an inherent defect that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. This defect can be a result of the design process, during manufacturing, or even due to insufficient instructions or warnings regarding the use of the product.

Gathering evidence is another fundamental step in proving seat belt failure in court. The process begins at the accident scene, where it’s crucial to document any signs of seat belt malfunction, such as torn webbing, a broken latch, or a failed retractor. Photographic evidence and witness testimonies can be instrumental at this stage. It’s also important to preserve the seat belt system in its post-accident condition for expert analysis.

Importance of Expert Witnesses in a Seat Belt Failure Lawsuit

To assess the seat belt failure, an experienced accident lawyer will often consult forensic experts specializing in seat belt mechanics. These experts may perform tests to evaluate the integrity and performance of the seat belt system. Any recalls or prior complaints about the seat belt model can serve as vital evidence to support the case.

In proving seat belt failure in court, the testimony of expert witnesses is often pivotal. These experts, with specialized knowledge in fields such as accident reconstruction, mechanical engineering, or biomechanics, can provide authoritative insights into how and why a seat belt may have failed. Expert witnesses can help jurors understand complex technical details and establish a direct link between the seat belt failure and the injuries sustained.

How Liability Is Determined in Seat Belt Failure Cases

Establishing negligence and breach of warranty is essential in seat belt failure cases to hold the responsible parties accountable. Negligence is proven by showing that the manufacturer failed to exercise reasonable care in the design or production of the seat belt, leading to its failure and subsequent injuries. This involves demonstrating that the manufacturer knew, or should have known, about the potential risks and did not take appropriate actions to mitigate them.

Breach of warranty occurs when the seat belt does not conform to the seller’s express or implied assurances regarding the quality or safety of the product. An express warranty can be claims made in marketing materials or during the sale. In contrast, an implied warranty is an unstated assurance that the product is fit for the general purpose for which it is sold. Proving a breach of warranty can help victims recover compensation for damages caused by seat belt failures.

Common Catastrophic Injuries Caused by Seat Belt Failure

Seat belts are designed to protect vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. They serve a critical role in enhancing safety by preventing ejection from the vehicle, reducing the risk of colliding with the car interior, and distributing the forces of a crash across the body’s more resilient areas.

In cases where the seat belts fail to function properly, occupants may be subjected to greater forces during a collision, resulting in traumatic injuries such as fractures, amputations, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Unfortunately, fatalities are also a stark reality in some seat belt failure cases, leaving families to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Compensation in Atlanta for Seat Belt Failure Injuries and Fatalities

Calculating compensation for seat belt failure injuries involves a comprehensive analysis of the damages incurred. This calculation covers immediate medical expenses, long-term care costs, lost wages, and potential loss of future earning capacity. When the victim suffers more severe or permanent injuries, it typically leads to higher compensation. Pain and suffering are also considered, and this covers the physical and emotional distress caused by the accident.

Further, the financial impact of seat belt failure on victims and their families can be substantial. Medical expenses begin to accumulate from the moment of the accident, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, and follow-up treatments. Long-term rehabilitation costs can also be significant, especially if the injuries require ongoing physical therapy, in-home assisted living care, counseling, or specialized medical equipment.

Lost wages are another frequent type of damages that can be sought, as victims often need substantial time off work to recover. In severe cases where injuries lead to permanent disability, the individual may face reduced earning potential, affecting their ability to support themselves and their families in the long term.

In Georgia, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the defendant demonstrates willful misconduct, malice, or wantonness. These types of damages are designed to punish the manufacturers of defective automobile components for gross negligence and protect consumers by deterring similar conduct in the future.

Our Atlanta Seat Belt Failure Lawyers Hold Companies Accountable

After an Atlanta, GA, car accident, it may not always be obvious that a seat belt malfunction led to serious injuries or death. In fact, insurance companies may even try to deny valid claims for coverage of injuries when a defective seat belt makes it appear that an injured person was not wearing his or her seat belt at the time of a crash.

At Butler Prather LLP, our experienced Atlanta and Columbus auto product liability attorneys know what to look for when investigating a crash, and we are not afraid to go after auto manufacturers who sell unsafe products. If you or a loved one has been injured, suffered more severe injuries, or experienced the death of a loved one because a seat belt did not work properly during a crash, contact our national firm for a free consultation.

Call (706) 322-1990 to speak with one of our Atlanta seat belt failure attorneys today.

I was in a complex premises liability case involving a multinational corporations. Mr. Butler & his associates were always three steps ahead of these defendants. When they say they are "exceptional trial lawyers," this is not just a slogan but it is a way of life.”
- Zack Hendon