Developments in the Detroit Debacle
When examining why Detroit’s automotive industry failed, lawyers are currently taking a look at failures within automobiles themselves, seatbelt failure being one. Detroit, Michigan is currently facing bankruptcy concerns stemming from under-funded retiree benefits. Other cities including Chicago, Illinois are struggling with billions of dollars in pension shortfall. While no other city of Detroit’s size appears to be on the brink of a financial collapse, the current bankruptcy filings have spawned speculation about whether others are on the horizon. The $18.5 billion debt that caused Detroit to file for bankruptcy includes $3.5 billion in under-funded pensions and $5.7 billion in post-employment benefits and healthcare costs.
The bankruptcy filing may come as a shock to many, considering Detroit was once the hub of the automotive industry; often referred to as the “Big Three” or the “Detroit Three,” Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford were the largest automakers in the country. In 1903, Ford founded the Ford Motor Company and reinforced Detroit’s status as the automotive capital of the world.
Consequences of Seatbelt Failure
People touted Detroit as a land of golden dreams full of opportunities and prosperity, but what was once a flourishing industry has turned into a nightmare for many, particularly in terms of faulty fixtures in their vehicles. Nearly everyone has heard the slogan, “Seatbelts save lives.” While this is typically the case, if a seatbelt failure renders it unable to operate correctly, the belt can cause serious spinal cord, head, or internal injuries. In the case of seatbelt failure, the occupants or driver may be transformed into projectile missiles inside the closed compartment of the car, causing:
- Burns and scarring
- Loss of limbs
- Paraplegia and/or quadriplegia
- Fractured spines and traumatic brain injuries
Unfortunately, many individuals suffer from one or more of these injuries following seatbelt failure in a car accident. In some severe cases, individuals have died as the result of complications such as internal bleeding and permanent organ damage.
Causes of Seatbelt Failure
Seatbelt failure is normally the result of faulty manufacturing or poor design. During an accident, it is vital that the passengers and driver are kept contained on the seat and within the vehicle to minimize the potentially serious injuries that would occur due to the violent forces of a collision. The seatbelt should, theoretically, hold the occupant securely in place and allow the individual to ride through the accident.
Seatbelts are intended to minimize or fully eliminate the person’s risk of making contact with the roof, steering wheel, dashboard and windshield; in some instances, seatbelt failure may cause in the individual to be ejected from the vehicle through the windshield, resulting in catastrophic injury and death. A seatbelt failure could include:
- Sensor failure
- Inertial unlatching
- False latching
- Accidental release
- Poor seatbelt geometry
- Retractor failure
- Defective webbing material or belting
- Latch problems
- Excessive slack
- The “only belt” design
Shoulder belts were not mandatory in the rear seats in vehicles in the United States up until the late 1980s. Many older vehicles are still on the road today that do not have this extra safety precaution. Statistics also show that drivers of these cars manufactured in the 1980s are typically younger, teenage males who have an overall higher rate of car accidents each year.
Unfortunately, the “lap only” belt design can fail to provide adequate protection in the event of a collision, and some may cause even more severe and fatal injuries to the driver if he or she had not been wearing a seatbelt at all. This design failure can isolate the violent impact directly into a person’s midsection, resulting in severe injuries to the spinal cord and internal organs. Other injuries may include spinal fractures, quadriplegia, paraplegia and laceration to the bowel, liver and spleen.
Victim of Seatbelt Failure? Contact Us Today
If you or someone you love was injured in an auto accident as the result of seatbelt failure, contact Attorney Group now. While we would love to have faith in these safety devices, they are prone to defects and malfunctioning, even if you are sure you have the belts latched properly in place. We can work to evaluate your situation and determine if you are eligible to pursue a claim against the manufacturer for creating a faulty seatbelt. You may be entitled to seek compensation for mechanical bills, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering due to the injuries you sustained.