Seatbelts help save lives by locking into place, and keeping the driver or passenger secure in their seats, in a collision. After a car accident, however, the mechanisms that control the seat belt may no longer work, which means you may have to replace them entirely.
According to AS Technicians, “In a collision, the gas charge ignites, locking the seatbelt in place.” The igniter triggers a small explosive device called an inflator, which is part of the full seatbelt retractor mechanism. The igniter must be able to deploy in a timely fashion. “Regardless of whether it’s the seatbelt retractor, or the buckle pre-tensioner, once activated, they will not work again.”
What to check before doing the repair
All the seatbelt’s parts should be inspected before any repairs take place. Normally, a computerized scan is performed which generates a “complete list of diagnostic trouble codes.” The codes should determine what repairs and replacements are required to any functioning, locked or disabled seatbelts.
Repairs should be done by qualified dealer mechanics or by technicians who have experience replacing seatbelts for your type of vehicle. The insurance company responsible for property damages should pay for the necessary repair work. Typically, this falls to the insurance company for the owner of the car that struck your vehicle.
Can I do the repairs myself and keep the insurance money?
You could, but you probably should not. Unless you are a trained mechanic, DIY repairs may cost you more in the long run. For example, if you are hit by another car at a future date and the seat belts fail to work, not only could you sustain even more severe injuries, but the insurance company may feel you are in some way responsible for those injuries, and devalue your claim.
Replacing and installing a new seatbelt or seatbelt parts
AS Technicians explains that seatbelt parts are controlled by sensors “which communicate with the airbag system.” Typically, the sensors, igniter, inflator and seatbelt parts must all be replaced after a crash, in addition to the seat belt retractors, buckles, and pre-tensioners. The replacement must be done according to OEM specifications and according to electrical resistance requirements.
After the necessary parts are replaced, another computerized scan needs to be performed to ensure the seatbelt apparatus will work in the event of another car accident.
What happens if my seat belts fail me?
If your seat belts fail you in a crash, you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable for any injuries you sustain. If they have been replaced and they fail, it could be the mechanic who is liable.
If you are not the original owner, one thing you can do to make sure your seat belts are in good working order is to check the vehicle history report (there are a few of them available for free online) to see if your car has ever been in a collision. If it has, check to see if the belts were repaired or replaced after the crash.
At Larson Law Firm P.C., our Minot car accident lawyers understand when car manufacturers, parts makers, and distributors and retailers can be held liable if defective seat belt parts lead to injuries. We work to hold the responsible parties liable for the injuries and damage they cause. To learn your rights after any car accident, please call our us at 701-484-4878 or use our contact form to make an appointment at one of our offices in Minot or Bismarck.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson