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Like many states in this country, California has a mandatory seat belt law requiring all operators of a motor vehicle and all vehicle passengers over the age of 16 to wear a seat belt. Seat belts are meant to save lives and prevent injuries yet every year many people are injured and even killed because the seat belt they were using was defective. Injuries caused by defective seat belts can occur for a variety of reasons. Seat belts may fail because the latch is defective and appears to be locked when it is not. The latch must be very secure and must be able to withstand a tremendous amount of force during a collision. In some cases the seat belt material may be defective because of a manufacturing flaw. During a collision, the defective seat belt material may not be able to withstand the shock of impact and may tear, with the result that the person is thrown forward at great speed. Another problem that occurs is that the seat belt retractor does not function properly and allows the person to hit the dashboard or window without being properly restrained.
In some cases, the injuries caused by seat belts that do not work properly can be very serious. For example, a defective passive restraint seat belt can cause strangulation or a lacerated liver if the lap belt is not fastened properly and the body is thrown forward during a collision. Other injuries that occur due to seat belt defects include brain trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis, and broken bones. Seat belt defects and design flaws are responsible for more than 20% of the injuries and deaths caused during vehicle rollovers. In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that nearly 3 million people were injured in the United States because of seat belts that were not working properly, and almost 43,000 people died as a result of injuries they experienced due to defective seat belts.
If you have been injured as a result of a seat belt that was defective, you need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to take your case. Depending on the problem that occurred with the seat belt, the attorney may launch legal action against the vehicle manufacturer or the seat belt manufacturer or distributor. You have a right to be compensated for your injuries and for your medical expenses. You are also entitled to reimbursement for your lost earnings as well as for your pain and suffering.
A personal injury attorney can fight for your rights if your insurance company is refusing to pay for all the medical costs you have incurred. In California, the law imposes a statute of limitations on these types of claims so you should file your case as quickly as possible. A personal injury lawsuit after a vehicle collision can be legally very complex, so you need to have an attorney with a lot of experience in aggressively pursuing this type of case. If you have experienced an injury as a result of a seat belt that was defective, consult the personal injury lawyers at The May Firm for an initial free consultation.
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