San Diego Defective Seat Belt Attorneys
Millions Recovered for Auto Defect Victims Across California
In most car accident lawsuits, victims seek a financial recovery of damages from an at-fault driver. There are cases, however, where injuries or deaths are caused by more than just a negligent motorist. Some may result from defective or faulty seat belts.
If you or someone you love has been harmed in a motor vehicle accident due to seat belt defects, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against the responsible automaker or manufacturer.
The McClellan Law Firm is an awarded personal injury practice known for litigating complex claims involving product liability and automotive defects. Our San Diego attorneys can evaluate your accident and discuss how we may be able to help you fight for justice.
Why Choose The McClellan Law Firm?
- More than 140 verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million each.
- Successful recoveries against GM, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes Benz, and other major automakers.
- Craig McClellan is the only San Diego attorney invited to the Inner Circle of Advocates, a group of the nation’s top 100 plaintiffs’ trial lawyers.
- Numerous awards and accolades, including Best Lawyers’ “Lawyer of the Year” for Personal Injury and Product Liability, America’s Top 100 Attorneys: Lifetime Achievement Award, and Super Lawyers No. 1 attorney in San Diego (2019).
Craig R. McClellan and our firm have recovered millions for victims of auto defects, including defectively designed and manufactured seat belts and seat belt systems.
As a proven leader in auto defect litigation, our cases have been profiled in the national media and programs such as 60 minutes, 20/20, and PBS NewsHour. Several of our cases have also prompted the adoption of legislation and safety practices that better protect vehicle occupants and consumers.
If you have a potential seat belt defect lawsuit, contact us for a free case review.
How Can a Seat Belt be Defective?
Seat belts are intended to prevent what experts refer to as a “second collision” during a motor vehicle crash. This can include vehicle occupants being thrown against the roof, dashboard, or vehicle interior, or being ejected entirely from a vehicle through a window or windshield.
When seat belts fail to function as intended, vehicle occupants face significantly higher risks of suffering severe and fatal injuries.
Examples of potential seat belt defects that can lead to injury or death:
- Improper seat belt placement
- Lap-only seat belt designs
- Faulty locking retractors
- Latch or buckle failure
- Insufficient tension in collisions
Even seemingly minor flaws involving seat belts can have major consequences. When a seat belt is defective, it can either fail to fulfill its intended purpose of keeping occupants from impacting the vehicle interior, or fulfil its intended purpose in an unsafe manner that can injure passengers.
For example, until 2007, the center backseat seat belt was almost always a lap belt, or a two-point restraint. During impacts, lap belts were known to cause the lower back vertebrae to separate, causing paralysis. This became known as "seat belt syndrome."
Other ways seat belts can be defective:
- Design defects that make seat belt systems inherently dangerous. Examples include incorrect placement, buckles that appear to latch when they are not secure, and lap-only belt designs.
- Manufacturing defects resulting from poor quality materials, poor workmanship, or other errors during the manufacturing phase. Examples include seat belts with defective seams or stitching, torn or ripped belt webbing, and defective shoulder straps.
- Marketing defects involving failures to warn or adequately instruct consumers about safe seat belt use and potential, including failures to provide instructions for seat belt systems that are not intuitive to vehicle occupants, and which can be dangerous when used incorrectly.
Depending on the facts of your accident and the specific problems associated with seat belts, you may be able to bring products liability claims based on design, manufacturing, and / or marketing defects against a manufacturer, distributor, and / or retailer (such as a used car dealer) responsible for making the product available to the public.
These claims can plead various causes of action, including strict liability and negligence. In design defect cases based on strict liability, for example, plaintiffs may either prove there was a safer, feasible alternative design or that the seat belt failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform when used in a reasonably foreseeable way.
Having handled numerous seat belt defect lawsuits over the years, our team understands the nuances of products liability cases and how to help victims bring the most appropriate claims for their situation. We also have access to the necessary experts who can help us support these claims.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Seat Belt Failure?
If you suspect that a defective seat belt system may have caused or contributed to injuries suffered by you or someone you love, the most important thing you can do is contact an attorney experienced in handling auto defect cases.
There are various signs of potential seat belt defects:
- Vehicle occupants report that they felt a seat belt become unbuckled during a crash.
- There is evidence of seat belt malfunction, ripped or torn straps, broken latches, or visible damage.
- Vehicle occupants who were wearing seatbelts suffered severe or fatal injuries due to striking the interior of a vehicle or vehicle ejection.
At The McClellan Law Firm, we have cultivated a national reputation for litigating high-stakes product liability claims involving defective automobiles and vehicle components, and have recovered millions in compensation for victims in cases alleging seat belt defects.
In addition to speaking with a lawyer, it is important to preserve evidence. While you can take photos and ensure you have access to your vehicle after a crash, an attorney can help you store your car in a secured location so it can be accessed for any needed investigations or discovery during your case.
How Much is My Case Worth?
That depends. Car accident victims can suffer injuries that result in a range of physical, financial, and emotional setbacks. As a victim of negligence, you are entitled to compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Other economic and non-economic damages
Examples of Our Results
- $25.36 Million wrongful death settlement over product defect and negligence.
- $9.5 Million product defect settlement over post-collision fuel fed vehicle fire.
- $8 Million wrongful death recovery over product defect and seatbelt design.
- $6 Million settlement against Ford for wrongful death and serious injuries resulting from rear seats equipped with lap-only seat belts (Miller v. Ford Motor Co.). The Miller family later lobbied for legislation requiring used car dealers to placing warnings on vehicles with lap-only belts.
- $5.2 Million recovery against Mercedes Benz over catastrophic injuries sustained in a crash where the passenger in the center rear seat was wearing a lap belt only.
- $3.65 Million product defect recovery over roof and seat belt design.
- $2.75 Million product defect settlement over seat belt design.
If your injury or the injury or wrongful death of your family member was caused, in whole or in part, by a possibly defective seat belt anywhere in California, our San Diego lawyers at The McClellan Law Firm are available to help. Contact us to request a FREE case review.