What happens when the thing that is supposed to keep you safe, causes the injury? This is the premise behind a body of laws known as the Crashworthiness Doctrine – sometimes called the Second Collision Doctrine. It applies when a car’s safety features (airbags, seatbelt, stability control, etc..) works in a manner that causes injuries when they do not work properly.
Do you like seatbelts? Thank a car accident lawyer. There was a time, just a few generations ago, when seatbelts were not required or installed. Do you like seat belts that do not cause more harm than they protect against? Also thank a car-accident lawyer.
You may recall, if you drove a Japanese vehicle (i.e. Toyota, Honda) in the 80s, that opening or closing the driver’s or front passenger’s door would cause the motorized-shoulder harness to slide over or away from the individual; but the person was required to manually use the lap belt. So many people drove without lap belts. If the door unintentionally opened in the middle of a rollover or other accident, the person would get ejected from the vehicle. In more traditional car accidents, the lack of lap belt restraint would cause people’s necks to get caught in the shoulder harness resulting in strangulation and sometimes paralysis or death.
In the 90s, many American automobiles utilized a seatbelt feature that, with regular body movements, would create seatbelt slack. This provided the occupant with more comfort when sitting still. Unfortunately, the extra movement allowed in the case of a car accident, would magnify the occupant’s injuries.
Have you noticed that seatbelts in the center back seat of cars used to only consist of a lap belt (with no shoulder harness) – but that today new cars have shoulder harnesses and lap belts in all three rear seat locations? This is because lap belts used without a shoulder harness, in certain accidents can cause more harm that wearing no seatbelt at all! Thank a car accident lawyer.
Sometimes, at the scene of an SUV rollover accident an automobile occupant will have been ejected but the seatbelt will still be in the locked position. Car manufacturers will argue that someone came along after the accident and locked the seatbelt (when the victim will argue that the seatbelt was used all along). In these situations, the way an occupant is ejected will often cause the seatbelt to burn the skin (this can be mistaken for road rash). But examination of the seatbelt mechanism may show an unspooling effect. In a pendulum system seat belt the belt will lock up in front, side or rear impacts but the pendulum will UNLOCK in a roll – resulting in an unnecessary and unsafe spool out.
Famously, the Takata Air Bag deployment mechanism (that inflates the airbag) would explode and, shrapnel would enter the car-accident victim’s face. Other airbags are defective because they are over pressurized. Airbags, at low impacts, should blow out at one level and at high-impacts, should blow out at another level.
You should be aware that bringing a seatbelt injury or airbag injury claim involves suing the automobile or parts manufacturer. These are among the most complicated an expensive car accident cases so any car accident lawyer will require serious injuries in order to justify taking on this type of case.