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Seat belts: their role in accident and product liability claims

Seat belts: their role in accident and product liability claims

Seat belts can save lives in a car accident even though they may directly cause certain injuries in the people wearing them. Louisiana residents who are in a crash may, for example, suffer from bruising or whiplash as a result of being restrained by the seat belt. They could injure their chest and even suffer internal bleeding. Women who wear their seat belt across their stomach and not their hips may suffer from placental abruption.

Though such injuries may be preferable to death, some seat belt injuries can actually give rise to a claim. Victims may have been injured because of a manufacturing or design defect in the seat belt system itself. For instance, the seat belt may detach or fail to tighten in the collision because of a defect with the latches or tension detectors. Sometimes, victims have their injuries aggravated after a crash when a seat belt fails to provide slack.

The above sort of claims would involve product liability law and be filed against the seat belt manufacturer. Seat belts can play a role in personal injury cases, too. To argue against a case or lower the amount they would be responsible for in damages, defendants may say that plaintiffs are at least partially to blame for their injuries because they were wearing their seat belt wrong.

Plaintiffs can also be held liable for not wearing a seat belt in the first place. Louisiana follows a pure comparative negligence rule, which means that a plaintiff’s degree of fault technically does not bar recovery. Victims of auto accidents can no doubt imagine that the higher their degree of fault, the harder it will be to achieve a settlement. To see how their case might fare at the negotiation table, victims may see a lawyer. The lawyer may also help with gathering proof of negligence.

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