Can I sue regarding a faulty seat belt?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I sue regarding a faulty seat belt?

I was driving a company truck and hit a bad spot in the road. The seat belt latch broke which

caused me to hit my head and shoulder and hurt my back left shoulder. I’ve been off work for 3 months. I have a workman comp lawyer but everyone I talk to said it’s a third party for the seat belt, so I was wondering if there was anything that can be done? I took pics of the broken seatbelt.

Asked on March 6, 2018 under Personal Injury, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) You need proof that the seatbelt was defective as designed or manufactured (as oppposed to, say, a) becoming worn or damaged or over time, or b) you had not properly latched it). This would require more than pictures of the latch; it will require an examination by some engineer with relevant training and experience--who you would have to pay, and which can cost many hundreds to a few thousand dollars. The law requires expert testimony to explain how a device or fitting is defective and why.
2) If there is no good evidence of a defect in manufacture or design, you cannot win the case; the car builder is not responsible for anything that happens *after* they place the car in your hands, so you have to be able to prove (e.g. with the expert testimony discussed above) that the car (or seatbelt) manufacturer was at fault.
3) You can only sue for lost wages, out-of-pocket medical bills, and possibly some amount for "pain and suffering" to the extent you have not been compensated by insurance (e.g. medical insurance coverage costs) or worker's comp. To give a grosslly oversimpifed example: say that reasonable compensation for this would be $30,000, but you receive a total of $20,000 from insurance and workman's comp--you can only sue for and recover the extra $10,000.
Depending on how severe your injuries, how much work you miss, how much you incur in bills, etc., it may not be worth taking legal action.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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