Seat Belts and Child Car Seats
Seat belts, when worn properly, should be designed and manufactured to protect a vehicle occupant in all types of crashes. However, we know that in many instances seat belts do not protect the occupants adequately and sometimes cause unnecessary and avoidable injuries and deaths. Known design defects in seatbelts include the following:
- Spool Out
- In some crashes, particularly rollovers, most seatbelts will not hold the occupant tightly in position and allow the occupant’s head to come into contact with the roof or become trapped between the roof rail and the ground. This phenomenon is known as spool out. There is technology available that would minimize spool out. Pre-tensioning devices and roll sensing technology are two examples that are designed to pull the seat belt tight when vehicle moves in a manner that threatens a loss of control or rollover. This technology has been available for some time but few manufacturers offer it in their vehicles.
- Crash Unlatching
- Some seatbelts are prone to coming unlatched during a crash. This can be caused by a defect in the latching mechanism or a design flaw in the buckle that allows it to be unlatched inadvertently during a crash. There are scientific methods that can be used to prove that the seatbelt was latched prior to the collision and came unlatched at some time during the crash.
- Submarine Injuries
- A seatbelt should be designed so that the load of the restraint is transferred to the strong bony structures in your pelvis, chest and shoulder. If the force of the restraint is actually taken in the abdomen or in the neck, serious injuries and death can occur from the seat belt. The design geometry of the belt, the lack of a strong enough seat, or the introduction of slack during the crash are some of the causes of submarine injuries. Particularly at risk are small individuals and children. Minimum federal standards only require car manufacturers to pass tests for average sized women and men. Children who have outgrown the child seat restraints are at great risk of injury from seatbelts and the car manufactures know this to be true.
- Child Restraints
- One of the least regulated and least tested type of restraint is the child “safety” seat. Many manufacturers, of child seats and booster seats are actually toy manufacturers, not restraint specialists. Car manufacturers usually give poor instructions or warnings about how to properly integrate a child safety seat into the restraint system of a given vehicle. These safety loopholes result in thousands of avoidable child and infant injuries and deaths every year.
Brent Coon and Associates has assembled a team of leading experts who can assess whether or not the restraint system performed properly in a crash. We can evaluate the extent that any failure enhanced or failed to prevent serious injury or death. Particularly in child restraint cases, we want to help you and do our part to protect our children from unnecessary injuries and deaths.