Defective seatbelts can cause life-altering personal injuries and
death. When the belt fails, the passenger may be ejected from the vehicle.
In one lawsuit filed against Subaru of America, Fuji Heavy Industries of
Japan, and a firm called Autoliv North America, a 2001 Subaru Forester
restraint system failed to adequately protect a young woman named Michell
Dodds (names have been changed to protect the victims). The vehicle was
made and sold by Subaru America and Fuji Heavy Industries; the seat belt
(restraint system) was manufactured by Autoliv North America.
The horrendous rollover crash took place in 2006 when Dodds lost control
of her vehicle. It flipped several times, finally landing on the roof
of the vehicle. As the accident was happening, the seat belt webbing tore
completely, leaving her unrestrained. She was ejected from the vehicle
and killed. Dodd’s daughter, Tori, sustained severe and permanent
injuries as a result of the crash.
What was defective aside from the seatbelt? In instances like this, the
crash worthiness of the vehicle is called into question, much like the
current fiasco facing Toyota and all its recall. The lawsuit alleged the
Forester had a defective seat belt and window system, insufficient lateral
and roll stability and not enough strength and structural integrity to
handle the kind of roof crushing forces sustained in a rollover.
Tellingly, the suit also identified the fact that the defendants in the
case had known about the glass problem since 1970. Unsupported, tempered
glass in rear and side windows had contributed to hundreds of ejections
during rollover and side impact accidents, with disastrous results. The
company did nothing to warn the general public about this, despite technical
evidence published that strongly recommended using a metal framework and
laminated glass/ejection resistant glazing. No modifications were made
to their vehicles due to concerns about cost.
Six other reports dealing with this same subject matter were also written
by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who suggested a
modified window frame and laminated windshield type glass or other types
of glazing to keep passengers in their vehicles during an accident. Evidently,
the reports were ignored and test data was misrepresented to show Subaru’s
windows were safe in accidents; a fact that was blatantly untrue, as the
defective systems meant vehicle occupants were at high risk for serious
brain and spinal cord injuries.
The lawsuit will seek damages for the daughter for
wrongful death; pain and suffering; personal injuries; permanency of the devastating
physical injuries the daughter suffered; medical costs and loss of past
and future earnings. As you can see, this is a major case and will have
a major outcome.
Unfortunately, accidents like this may happen at any time, to anyone, anywhere.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an
accident such as this one,
contact a competent and dedicated products liability wrongful death attorney with extensive experience in digging beneath the surface of cases such
as this. It’s a call well worth your time and trust.