Previous posts here have discussed issues with airbags that had a tendency to explode in an accident. However, this is not the only sort of safety equipment that is prone to explosion or fire in a significant collision. For instance, seatbelts are also equipped with a device that forces the belt to tighten rapidly in an accident, thereby restraining the passenger in his or her seat and, when working properly, protecting that person.
Unfortunately, these devices can also be defective. To this point, Ford has announced the recall of over 1 million later model Ford F-150 pickup trucks because of a problem with its seatbelts. According to reports, there have been over 20 reports of fires or smoke in the car following a collision. In some cases, according to an investigation by a federal agency, trucks have been totally consumed by flames after an accident. Experts have attributed this problem to a defect in the seatbelt that can cause sparking in the event of a collision in which the seatbelt tightens quickly.
While there have been no injuries reported to date because of this defect, that does not mean that there have not been unreported injuries or, as the recall proceeds, there will not be some motorists who continue to operate their vehicles as is, perhaps because they simply did not know about the recall.
This story serves as an important reminder to Orange County residents and others in the greater Los Angeles area that, although safety equipment on vehicles is a good thing, manufacturers have an obligation to make sure this equipment indeed protects life and does not endanger it. Someone who does get hurt by defective safety equipment may be able to obtain compensation through a products liability claim.