Most of the time, seat belts and air bags make vehicles safer. But if they are defective, Bellingham car accident victims may have been harmed by them. Design or manufacturing flaws can lead to these failures during an accident. These failures may result in devastating and/or catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain damage, internal bleeding, broken bones, or severe spinal cord injury.


Seat belts and airbags can be defective in different ways. Common defects in seat belts include inertial unlatching defects, retractor failure, false latching and ripped webbing, which we will detail below.


  • Inertial unlatching defect: this occurs when the seat belt’s latch pulls out of the buckle because of the collision’s intense force. That is never supposed to occur under any condition.
  • Retractor failure: this happens when the seat belt webbing does not lock in place during a motor vehicle accident. The vehicle’s occupant will not be restrained properly due to extra webbing developing in the seat belt. Even a few inches of extra webbing can make a huge different between a car accident victim walking away generally unscathed and severe injuries.
  • False latching: like inertial unlatching, false latching means that the seat belt was inserted and clicked into the latch plate, but didn’t actually attach securely. Even a minimal amount of force can dislodge the buckle from the latch.
  • Ripped webbing is one of the most common types of seat belt defects. When a seat belt’s webbing rips or frays during a collision, the occupant can be unrestrained. Seat belts are never designed to rip during a crash, so if this occurs, it’s likely the seat belt was defective.


A properly designed and functioning air bag will inflate upon impact, which decreases the amount of force and impact to the vehicle’s passenger. This reduces injury. They are only truly functional when worn with a seat belt, as Whatcom County’s traffic and safety expert Doug Dahl writes. Sometimes, however, air bags cause injury even when they do deploy because a passenger is too small for such an air bag. If you are traveling with a child, make sure you know how to properly secure a child in a car or booster seat. Other types of air bag defects are a failure to deploy, deploying too quickly, too slowly or too soon, or deploying when no accident occurs.

It’s critical, if you were the victim of a car accident, it’s critical to obtain a police accident report, and follow these steps after your accident. Bellingham’s best personal injury attorney can help you and your family recover the damages owed to you if you were injured and it was not your fault. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.

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