Should Mazda have had a shoulder-and-lap seatbelt installed instead of a lap seatbelt in their minivan to protect their passengers? That’s the question the Supreme Court will have to answer as they rule on a case involving the death of a woman wearing the lap seatbelt.
Thanh Williamson died in 2002 when her family’s 1993 Mazda MPV minivan crashed, sending her body jackknifed around the lap belt causing fatal internal injuries, according to news reports. Her family wants Mazda to be held responsible for the seat belt, which didn’t properly restrain her.
California state court, however, dismissed the cases saying the seatbelts were federally approved, allowing Mazda to install the seatbelts instead of the shoulder-and-lab restraint.
As a North Charleston personal injury attorney , I always recommend using shoulder-and-lab seatbelts when possible and always wearing them correctly. Lap belts are better than no seat belt at all, but they do not properly restrain the upper body from falling forward in the event of a car accident .
While the case is now up to the Supreme Court, I think the case shows a good argument to why shoulder-and-lap belts are a better option to install in vehicles.