Seat-belt defect case settles

1997

Eric Zajac represented the estate of a young girl who was a passenger in a car driven by a friend. The vehicle had been designed and equipped with a shoulder harness and lap belt that were not integrated, meaning that although the shoulder harness automatically engaged when the occupant shut the door, the lap belt had to be manually secured. The client was an 11-year-old girl sitting in the front passenger seat. Information showed that the manufacturer knew that occupants – especially youngsters – were prone to ignore or to forget about the manual lap belt and rely on the shoulder harness alone. This reliance lulls the user into a false sense of security, because a front end collision can cause the occupant to “submarine” under the shoulder harness, which can result in fatal neck injuries. An integrated seat belt system solves the problem of ignoring or forgetting about the manual lap belt. The case settled for a confidential sum.

The specific terms and conditions of settlement are confidential.