On August 8, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall by General Motors LLC (GM) of 48,114 vehicles for a seat belt defect that may result in injury or death to users of the seatbelts in the event of a crash. The vehicles affected by the recall include certain model year 2013 Buick Encore vehicles that were manufactured between August 23, 2012, and March 1, 2013, and certain model year 2013 Cadillac ATS vehicles that were manufactured between April 23, 2012, and May 1, 2013. According to the NHTSA report, the driver and passenger lap belt pretensioner cables in the affected vehicles contain a defect that may prevent the cables from locking in a retracted position when under load. This failure to lock may allow the seat belts to extend when pulled upon, leaving the seat occupant inadequately restrained in a crash. GM has stated that it will notify owners of the recall and that dealers will replace both the driver and passenger lap belt pretensioners, free of charge. GM will send an initial notification to owners of the recall and a later notification when parts become available.
This seatbelt defect may cause serious personal injuries and wrongful death. Who may be held legally responsible for traffic accident injuries and deaths caused by seatbelt defects? Can the manufacturer of these vehicles or of the defective seatbelts be found liable for injuries and deaths caused to consumers by the seatbelt defect while consumers are waiting for the defective parts to be replaced? The answers to these questions may depend on the circumstances of a articular case and the product liability law of the state in which a legal action is filed.
If you have been injured or one of your family members has been killed in a traffic accident and you suspect that your injuries or loved one’s death was caused by a defect in a seatbelt or other motor vehicle safety equipment, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you and your family have suffered. The Killino Firm’s highly regarded team of accident and defective products attorneys has extensive experience with all types of traffic accident cases, including those arising out of injuries or deaths caused by defective seatbelts and other safety equipment, and will provide you with aggressive and expert assistance in holding those responsible for your injuries or loved one’s death accountable through legal action.
Legal Liability for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Defects in Motor Vehicles or Motor Vehicle Safety Equipment
Car and other motor vehicle crashes often result in serious injuries or death to one or more of the individuals involved in these accidents. In some cases, the crashes themselves may have been caused by defects in one or more of the vehicles. In others, though the accidents were not caused by vehicle defects, the victims’ injuries were enhanced (i.e. increased or worsened beyond what they might have been) by defects in vehicle safety equipment intended to protect vehicle occupants during crashes. In either case, the manufacturers and others in the chain of a vehicle’s distribution may be held liable, under most states’ product liability laws, for injuries or deaths determined to have been caused by defects in vehicles or vehicle safety equipment.
The manufacturers and others involved in the production of motor vehicles have a duty, under law, to make vehicles crashworthy. In recognition of the fact that motor vehicles may be involved in crashes, federal laws require seatbelts and airbags to be installed in cars and other motor vehicles and specify certain requirements regarding crashworthiness features. Even when a manufacturer or designer has complied with all federal mandates regarding crashworthiness, however, a seatbelt or other vehicle safety feature may be found defective in a product liability action.
Though product liability law differs somewhat from state to state, most states’ laws allow plaintiffs to recover damages for personal injuries or deaths caused by defects in vehicles or vehicle safety equipment from the manufacturers and designers of such vehicles or safety equipment as well as others in the vehicles’ chains of distribution. Product liability actions may generally be brought as strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty claims. When an action seeks to recover damages for someone’s injury or death, however, the strict liability form of action is usually chosen by accident and defective products attorneys. This form of action allows the plaintiff to establish the defendants’ liability without having to demonstrate that any of the defendants were negligent in producing the defective vehicle or equipment or in releasing the vehicle to the market. Thus, the vehicle designers and manufacturers, safety equipment designers and manufacturers, assemblers, suppliers, and in some cases, the retailers of vehicles containing defective safety equipment, may be found strictly liable for injuries or deaths caused by defects in vehicle safety equipment. These defendants may be found strictly liable under most states’ laws even if the victim was injured or killed after receiving notification of the vehicle recall.
Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.
The Killino Firm’s team of personal injury and wrongful death attorneys is dedicated to holding those responsible for the production of defective motor vehicles and vehicle safety equipment liable for the injuries and deaths caused by such defects. If you have been injured or one of your family members has been killed in a car or other motor vehicle accident as a result of a defective vehicle or defective vehicle safety equipment, The Killino Firm can provide you with aggressive and expert assistance with your case.