Womans Wrongful Death Blamed on Faulty Seatbelt System

The family of Sandra Dozier is suing TRW Vehicle Safety Systems Inc. over her Texas wrongful death. They claim that the defendant designed and made a very dangerous restraint system.
Dozier was driving a 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix on March 13, 2007 when she lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over. She suffered fatal injuries despite wearing a seat belt.
Per the seat belt defect lawsuit, the buckle provided inadequate restraint, violates both the principals of crashworthiness and GM’s internal specifications, and does not comply with legal statutes. The plaintiffs want wrongful death compensation for loss of care, support, maintenance, advice, service, counsel, companionship and society, pecuniary contributions, and inheritance. They also want financial recovery for their mental anguish, emotional distress, funeral and medical costs, interest, and court expenses.
Defective Seat Belts
It is imperative that passengers wear seat belts that are free from defects. Use of a seat belt can save a life during a car crash or prevent catastrophic injuries. Unfortunately, not all safety belts are free from design and manufacturing defects. Not only do seat belt safety issues increase the chances of injury or death during auto collision impact, but also the defect itself can also be a cause of injury.
Common seat belt defects:
False latching: The latch plate appears, looks, and sounds as if it is latched, but it isn’t. This means the wearer is not properly restrained.
Inertial latching: The seat belt becomes unlatched during a traffic crash.
Ripped or torn webbing: The safety belt rips or tears apart during a crash.
“Windowshade” devices: The presence of this “tension-relieving” device in a seat belt can create unnecessary slack that can reduce the seat belt’s ability to properly restrain a passenger during a collision.
Lap-only belt designs: These do not provide adequate protection.
Some signs that seat belt failure may have been a factor in causing passenger injury:

  • The belted occupant sustained injuries.
  • The car crash victim was using a seat belt that fit him/her loosely.
  • A vehicle occupant is found without a seat belt on even though he/she was using one.
  • The occupant suffered serious injuries while wearing a seat belt even though the vehicle sustained limited structural damage.
  • A passenger wearing a seat belt sustained serious injuries during a moderate or minor crash.

Seatbelt manufacturer sued after fatal car accident, The Southeast Texas Record, January 19, 2011
Related Web Resources:
Occupant Protection, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Hidden Dangers of Seat Belts , Time, November 30, 2006
Seat Belts, Product Liability Law Blog


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