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.
Seatbelt Injuries: A brief history
Do you like seatbelts? Thank a 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 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.