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Can a Seat Belt be a Cause of Injuries or Death in a Collision or Rollover?

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If you are wearing your seat belt, it should never come loose or unbuckle during an automotive or trucking collision or rollover. If your seat belt comes loose or unbuckles in a collision, serious injuries and death may result. If you have sustained injuries or someone you know has sustained injuries or death in an automotive or trucking collision or rollover, you may want to contact a personal injury lawyer to investigate possible causes of the injuries or death.

Do Seat Belts Have a Lifetime Warranty?

Under federal law, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has certain safety standards that car manufacturers must adhere to when they sell new vehicles. These safety standards include the installation of seat belts in certain seating positions in all new vehicles as stipulated in Standard No. 208, “Occupant Crash Protection.”

Standard No. 209, “Seat Belt Assemblies” also details minimum requirements regarding how seat belts are assembled in vehicles and how they are sold as “aftermarket” equipment.

Despite this detailed guidance with seat belts, the NHTSA does not require that manufacturers provide a lifetime warranty for their seatbelts. Still, the NHTSA can require a manufacturer to replace seat belts under certain circumstances. For example, if a vehicle is no more than ten years old and is considered to have a safety defect, then the NHTSA can compel car manufacturers to replace or remedy the seat belt system without the vehicle owner having to pay for the repair.

What Happens With Defective Seat Belts?

The only instance where your seat belt is 100% covered for a repair or replacement is if there is a safety recall on your vehicle’s seat belt. Recalls happen when the manufacturer discovers a safety issue with a part in the vehicle or if the government requires the manufacturer to issue one. If a recall is announced for your vehicle’s seat belt system, you can bring it to your local dealership and receive a repair at no cost to you.

Despite federal law not requiring that car manufacturers provide lifetime warranties on seat belts, many car manufacturers still do provide warranties on their seatbelts. These warranties can be lifetime or limited. When you purchase a vehicle, the dealer will go over different warranties, including extended warranties and how your seat belts are covered under them.

Are There Limitations to Seat Belt Warranties?

Car companies including Honda, General Motors, and Ford all offer some sort of seat belt warranty or protection. However, they do come with certain limitations.

For example, with Honda, you are only covered for a seat belt replacement if your seatbelt fails to function during normal use. If your seatbelt fails because of an intentional tear or an excessive amount of dirt or grime, your replacement will not be covered.

While General Motors does not have a seat belt warranty, it does offer free seat belt replacements if your GM vehicle has a faulty or safety-related defect.

Many other motor vehicle manufacturers tend to follow the same standard. If your seatbelt shows signs of a safety-related issue, they will generally cover the replacement. If there are limitations on a replacement, it’s typically due to:

  • Intentional or owner-initiated tears
  • Excessive dirt causing a seatbelt to malfunction
  • Abnormal use of the seatbelt

How Often Should Seat Belts be Replaced?

Safety experts explain that your vehicle’s seat belt should be inspected about every 10 years. Depending on the condition of your seatbelt, you may or may not need to replace it. Even if you have not gotten into an accident, natural wear and tear can compromise the integrity of your seatbelt over time.

If you have gotten into a collision, it’s important to have your seatbelt inspected by your vehicle’s manufacturer right away. Seatbelts contain a complex mechanism that is designed to lock whenever there is a collision or impact that causes the seat belt to engage. If this mechanism got damaged in the crash, repair should be covered under the property damage component of your insurance claim, whether you are filing a liability claim against the other driver or filing a claim under your own collision, comprehensive, or uninsured motorist coverage.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Ripped Seat Belt?

If you need to repair your vehicle’s seat belt and it does not fall under the replacement conditions of your vehicle’s warranty, then you may need to pay out of pocket for the repair. The cost for a seat belt repair is determined by the type of repair done and the make and model of your vehicle.

A seat belt repair might consist of repairing a part of the seat belt system. However, replacing the seat belt system as a whole is generally the preferred method as it is easier to do. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 – $200 for a seat belt repair.

If you have concerns about the safety of your vehicle and the integrity of your vehicle’s seat belts after a crash, contacting a personal injury lawyer can help you sort out the nuances. Give us a call at 214-691-4025 or email if you’ve been the victim of a collision in Dallas or throughout Texas.

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