Contributed by: Sean Keith
Last year our firm represented a 17 year old senior who was killed as a result of being run off the road on the interstate and her seat belt failing to hold. The most important lesson I learned from this tragic case was that seat belt failure happens a lot more and for a lot of different reasons than people realize.
Whenever emergency personnel come to an accident scene and find someone thrown from a vehicle the assumption always is that person did not have on their seatbelt. That is often put into a police report and told to the family. The family, despite knowing that their loved one always used a seatbelt, doesn’t question the police officer’s findings and it is never pursued any further. That is a mistake. There are numerous ways that can prove that it was the seatbelt and not the person that caused their death.
The investigation into our local case discovered a case out of Texas in which in which a father in Texas was thrown and killed from a vehicle despite wearing his seatbelt. He was riding with his family and was in a back seat of the vehicle after attending church. The other three passengers all were safe after the collision but they found the father thrown from the vehicle. Because there were three eyewitnesses to testify about his seatbelt use at the time of the collision it was much easier to prove that the seatbelt had failed.
In the situation like our case when the driver is alone and is no longer alive to defend herself there are other things that can be investigated to prove that they were wearing their seatbelt. Oftentimes there are marks on the webbing of the belt, the latch of the buckle and on the body of the victim that can be used to show they were wearing their belt. There are other things that can be used to prove that the belt was being worn but it is critical that the vehicle is not destroyed or sold before the attorneys and their investigators have an opportunity to look at these critical pieces of evidence. Also, with the inclusion of the “black box” in many newer model cars that stores data regarding speed of the vehicle, braking and most importantly whether the seat belt was being worn at the time of the collision, it is much easier to show that it was the failure of the belt and not the irresponsibility of the driver that caused her death.
If you ever question whether a seat belt failed contact an attorney as soon as possible. It is critical that important pieces of evidence are examined before being destroyed. Contact our office to discuss this or any other cases regarding a car that you may need the assistance of a lawyer by clicking on the contact us button or by calling our office at 1800-698-3644.