En Español

Experienced Seatbelt Injury Lawyers

Seatbelt manufacturers and major vehicle makers in the United States have been aware, for decades, that certain seat restraint systems are poorly made and have the ability to unlatch in the event of an accident, causing serious injury and death. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or damages as the result of a faulty seatbelt, please contact the renowned auto defect law firm of Bisnar | Chase to discuss your case.

Our seatbelt injury lawyers have the knowledge and experience to successfully represent you and maximize your recovery. We will use our experience, knowledge and resources to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the highest compensation for your losses.

Reducing Defective Seatbelts Saves Lives

According to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey, seat belt use in the year 2011 was estimated at 84 percent. In general, wearing a seatbelt will dramatically increase vehicle occupants' chances of surviving a crash.

In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that seatbelts saved more than 75,000 lives between 2004 and 2008. Unfortunately, there are cases each year in California that involve defective seatbelts that fail to properly protect vehicle occupants.

Dangers of Seatbelt Defects

The seatbelt is the primary restraint system in a vehicle. When seatbelts fail to work properly, the injuries suffered can be catastrophic or even fatal. When any part of a seatbelt malfunctions, the occupant may be partially or fully ejected from the vehicle. Some of the serious injuries that can result from seatbelt failure include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, quadriplegia and paraplegia. Internal injuries, bone fractures, organ damage and soft tissue damage could also occur as a result of defective seatbelts.

Types of Seatbelts

a defective seat belt fails to properly protect its occupantSeatbelts are typically described by the number of anchor points they have. A two-point seat belt may be anchored to the occupant's door and the seat structure. A three-point restraint is anchored to either side of the seat as well as to the frame of the vehicle at the door pillar.

Lap-only belts are two point restraints that do not restrain the occupant's upper body. Most vehicles manufactured today have three-point, shoulder safety belts. Since September 2007, the U.S. Government has required all new vehicles to have three- point safety belts.

The Issue of Crashworthiness

Crashworthiness is the measure of protection provided by a vehicle to occupants in the event of a collision. Auto manufacturers are required to design vehicles that absorb sudden impacts and protect drivers and passengers from harm. When a vehicle has well-designed and properly assembled airbags, roofs, side-impact protections, head rests, roll bars and seat belts, it will likely to have a better crashworthiness rating. Defects in the design, assembly and manufacture of the restraint system will dramatically reduce the vehicle's crashworthiness.

Examples of Seatbelt Defects

There are many different design and manufacturing defects that can affect the way a seatbelt functions. A design defect is when the design of the seatbelt is flawed:

  • A poor design will affect the effectiveness of the restraint system no matter how well it is manufactured and assembled.
  • Manufacturing defects are when the restraint system is built incorrectly. It is often possible to prove that a belt was manufactured incorrectly by demonstrating how it does not conform to the specifications of the designer or manufacturer.
  • Latch malfunctions are perhaps the most common seatbelt defect. This is when a belt does not fully attach. In some cases the belt may sound like it clicks into place when it is not actually connected. In other cases, poor design makes it impossible to fully latch. Some seat belt latches are so defective that they fail as soon as a significant amount of pressure is applied. This can be particularly dangerous in a high-speed collision or rollover accident.
  • Other seatbelt defects that are often seen in auto recalls and product liability lawsuits include missing parts, warning light failures, ineffective tension sensors, faulty anchor planes, defective release buttons, weak webbing material, sewing issues and faulty anchorage. Any of these issues can have devastating consequences in the event of a California car accident.

The Problem with Defective Seatbelt Investigations

How many times have you come across a story about an accident in the media where vehicle occupants were ejected? The frightening aspect of these stories is that many law enforcement agencies do not get to the facts since they do not have the resources needed to conduct a thorough investigation.

Our firm has found in many instances that the injured or deceased occupant was actually buckled up when the police report stated that he or she was not wearing a seatbelt. There are any number of ways a seat belt system can fail, especially in high-impact collisions such as a rollover accident or a T-bone crash. Many of the side-release seat belts are prone to false latching. Many end-release seat belts are subject to unlatching in accidents.

We have seen many cases of failures of seat belt mounts, buckles, webbing and grabbers. We have uncovered internal auto manufacturer documents that show that the automakers had knowledge of these failures, but did absolutely nothing about them. We have settled many cases with automakers where we have alleged that their seatbelt or restraint system failed and caused serious injuries.

Most officers who investigate these types of accidents tend to come to the wrong conclusion that a seatbelt was not used if a vehicle occupant is not belted into a seat when the officer arrives at the scene. Unless an expert with accident reconstruction experience investigates the issue, a police detective is only guessing that an ejected vehicle occupant was not wearing a seatbelt. There are many items that must be analyzed in such cases. The body of the ejected person needs to be examined for evidence of seat belt bruising and marking. The webbing needs to be microscopically examined for grabber marks, blood stains and other marks and foreign objects that would indicate the seat belt was in use at the time of an accident.

Please contact us at 1-800-259-6373 for a no-cost, comprehensive consultation. Brian Chase, successful California product defect and auto product liability attorney has been handling defective and dangerous seatbelt cases for plaintiffs for over two decades.

Related Resources

Was This Page Helpful? Yes | No
Share this:

See All Ratings And Awards

The BISNAR | CHASE Difference

  • “I was in a serious auto accident when I was in law school. I had to hire a personal injury attorney and had a really bad experience.”

    John Bisnar

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “I went to law school knowing I wanted to be a personal injury attorney. I wanted my life’s work to have a positive impact on other people’s lives.”

    Brian Chase

    on what made him want to become a personal injury attorney

  • “Whatever the philosphy of the management is, is going to be carried through by the employees and it’s going to reflect on the experience the clients have.”

    John Bisnar

    on his philosophy on running a law firm

  • “Everybody either drives in a car or rides in a car, so when I do the auto defect cases I really feel like I’m making the world safer by making vehicles safer.”

    Brian Chase

    on why he focuses on auto defect cases

  • “The first thing we want to do with our clients is to relieve the stress. Make them feel comfortable. Treat them as an honored guest.”

    John Bisnar

    on how he would define superior client representation

  • “Corporate greed is a reality in our world and I see it time and time again. Especially, with the auto defect cases we focus on.”

    Brian Chase

    on corporate greed and how it affects the consumer

  • “You are dealing with people who are seriously injured or have lost a family member...Compassion is understanding someone else’s situation.”

    John Bisnar

    on the role compassion plays in his profession

  • “There are many, many defects in vehicles that can lead to life or death that could be fixed with a mere $40-$50 [on the assembly line].”

    Brian Chase

    on the shocking facts about the vehicles we drive

  • “...if [manufacturers] build a dangerous product and someone is seriously injured from that, some personal inury lawyer is going to call them on the carpet about it.”

    John Bisnar

    on how Bisnar | Chase has helped make the world a better place

  • “I’m convinced, because of all the lawsuits...the auto industry finally found out it was cheaper to fix the problem than to keep paying in the litigation.”

    Brian Chase

    on making the world a safer place

  • “I bring in the best employees that I can and I want them to have a workplace that is condusive to them doing their best work.”

    John Bisnar

    on the work environment created at Bisnar | Chase

  • “When you have a client come in that’s in a wheelchair...or you meet a wife who has lost their husband or they’ve lost their child, it’s diffucult not to get emotionally involved.”

    Brian Chase

    on the biggest challenges he faces as a personal injury lawyer

  • “...it is part of our civic responsibility and it is our great fortune to be in a position to be able to help support our community...”

    John Bisnar

    on the importance of giving back to the community

  • “My motivation of going to law school to have my life’s work help other people...when I see that come to fruition, I’m very pleased and very happy with that.”

    Brian Chase

    on the accomplishments he is most proud of

  • “Seeing the growth of my employees, seeing them mature professionally, personally, and grow into the great professionals they have become is tremendous.”

    John Bisnar

    on the greatest satisfaction derived from his work

  • “I was always jealous of doctors. They get to save lives and they get to heal. I don’t get to do that but I get to have a very big impact on another person’s life...”

    Brian Chase

    on the greatest satisfaction derived from his work

  • “There’s going to people that you meet, that you can mentor...You can make a difference in their lives, you can make a difference in their client’s lives.”

    John Bisnar

    on mentoring young attorneys

  • “I’m the president-elect this year and I’ll be the president next year of the Consumer Advocate Attorneys of California and I find that to be a rewarding thing...”

    Brian Chase

    on being an advocate for the people of California

  • “The Lakers have always been a winning organization, a class organization. I’ve used the Lakers as kind of a model for how to run my practice as well.”

    John Bisnar

    on his passions in life

  • “We try to figure out how we can help [our clients] get through what they’re going through emotionally. Because just getting them compensated is only part of the job.”

    Brian Chase

    on the role compassion plays in his profession

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys
1301 Dove St #120
Newport Beach, CA 92660

local: (949) 203-3814
Get Directions

California Personal Injury Blog

Drive Safely on Super Bowl Sunday

Law enforcement officials and safety advocates are encouraging Southern California Super Bowl party-goers to plan ahead for the big day by designating a sober ride home – be it a taxi or a friend.

read article

Former Pro Wrestlers Sue WWE Over Injury Causing Concussions

Two former professional wrestlers have sued the WWE accusing them of “selling violence” while ignoring concussions, which they say, have left them with serious brain injuries. According to

read article

Deaths Linked To Defective GM Switches Rise

The number of fatalities connected to the defective General Motors ignition switches is up to 49 as a compensation deadline approaches for those who were injured in car accidents caused by the faulty

read article


Copyright & Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case.

Bisnar Chase serves all of California. In addition, we represent clients in other states through our associations with local law firms. Through the local firm, we will be admitted to practice law in their state, pro hac vice, meaning "for this particular occasion." When in our client's interest, we employ the local law firm (at no additional cost to our client) to assist us with routine court appearances and discovery proceedings to more efficiently pursue our client's cause.

Copyright © 1999- Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys - All rights reserved.
Location: 1301 Dove St. #120, Newport Beach, CA 92660 - Tel: (949) 203-3814