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Airbag Seatbelt and Seatback Failure

Helping You When Your Vehicle’s Safety Features Fail You in Massachusetts

Have you been injured because of a failed air bag, seat belt or seatback?

Automotive safety has come a long way since the days of Unsafe at Any Speed, the pioneering book that blew the whistle on the deficiencies in car safety. Seat belts have been mandatory in virtually every state since the 1980s, and air bags were first introduced as standard equipment in 1988. While these features have improved overall crash safety, they are only effective when they work.

If you have been hurt in a crash in which your air bag or seat belt failed or your seatback collapsed, the manufacturer or designer can be held responsible for compensating you for your injuries. At Swartz & Lynch LLP in Boston, our attorneys are committed to helping injured people throughout Massachusetts recover damages for products liability and other personal injury matters. As a result, we have obtained millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of our clients, including $1.4 million for a defective seat.

Defective air bags

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s initiative called Safer Car, a frontal air bag should deploy in frontal or near-frontal crashes that are “equivalent to hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 miles per hour” — and that is considered a moderate-to-severe crash. Injuries that may be sustained in these accidents may include fractured bones and the most catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage or paralysis.

An air bag that deploys when it should not or an air bag that is excessively forceful can also cause severe damage. Air bag failure may be the result of:

  • Defective crash sensors
  • Missing internal tethers that keep the bag from inflating to the correct shape
  • Incorrect inflation path

Seat belt failure

Seat belts are your first line of defense in a motor vehicle accident. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that as many as 75,000 lives were saved in the five years from 2004 to 2008 —including 84 in Massachusetts in 2008 alone. Moreover, laws mandating seat belt use for drivers and passengers mean that more people are buckling up than ever before. However, when manufacturing defects or design flaws cause your seat belt to malfunction, the results can be debilitating. The most common reasons for seat belt failures include:

  • Unlatching during an accident
  • Excessive slackness
  • Retractor failure
  • Poorly designed protruding release buttons

Seatback collapse

Virtually all automobiles today feature front bucket seats — a major departure from the bench-style seats prevalent throughout much of the mid-20th century (in fact, bench seats will no longer be available in the last production car to offer them as of 2014). Bucket seats may be more stylish, but they can also be more dangerous. Rear end collisions are where seatback failures most often occur. Manufacturers may claim that “yielding seats,” which absorb energy, can reduce injury. In fact, these seats can cause the occupant to be ejected from them, especially if the seat belts are not used or also fail. At the same time, a seat that yields to the rear can severely injure passengers in the back seat.

Seatback failure may be caused by:

  • Defective front-to-back adjustment mechanisms
  • Defective reclining mechanisms
  • Seat anchoring failure
  • Seatback structural failure

Designers and manufacturers of motor vehicles owe you a duty of care

You have every right to expect that your passenger vehicle or pickup truck is built for safety. And you have every right to be compensated when safety devices fail because of defects. If you have been injured, we can help. To schedule a free initial consultation at Swartz & Lynch LLP with one of our experienced lawyers in Boston, call us at 857-250-0664 or contact an injury lawyer online. We offer after-hours appointments, and if necessary, we can arrange to meet you at the hospital or at your home.

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    Single Vehicle Accident / Amputee

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    Motor Vehicle Accident / Pedestrian / Loss of Limb

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