skip to content
blog home Product Liability Supreme Court Allows Lawsuit Over Rear Seat Belts

Supreme Court Allows Lawsuit Over Rear Seat Belts

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on January 27, 2011

The Supreme Court ruled recently that the family of a woman killed in a head-on collision may sue the manufacturer of the minivan she was traveling in for failing to install lap-and-shoulder belts. The Court’s decision was unanimous after Mazda, the maker of the minivan involved in the fatal crash, argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed as they had been in full compliance with federal safety regulations. Mazda said regulations allowed it to decide whether to install lap belts or lap-and-shoulder belts in rear seats. Mazda cited a similar Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that allowed automakers the option of installing airbags. In that case, Geier v. American Honda Motor Company, the Court ruled that federal regulations foreclosed the filing of injury litigation under state law by people who claimed the automakers had made the wrong choice.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion in the recent case and the 2000 decision, acknowledging that the two cases shared some similarities. However, he said that, “the differing goals of federal safety regulators required different results.”

The recent case involved the death of a woman in 2002. The suit claims she was riding in the back seat of a 1993 Mazda minivan and wearing a lap belt, the only restraint available, when it collided head-on with another vehicle. Other passengers in the minivan wore lap-and-shoulder belts and survived the crash, but the woman died from her injuries.

Orlando personal injury attorney James O. Cunningham has been following developments in this case with interest as it could affect personal injury cases here in Florida. Essentially, the Court is ruling that regardless of federal safety standards, Mazda and other automakers have a responsibility to make their vehicles as safe as possible.

If you or a close family member was riding in the rear seat of a vehicle that did not have lap-and-shoulder belts and suffered an injury in a collision, you may be entitled to damages. For a more complete explanation of the Court’s ruling, how it might apply to your case and answers to all of your questions, call Orlando personal injury lawyer James O. Cunningham today. You can schedule a free consultation by calling his law offices at 888-425-2004 or 407-425-2000 or filling out a brief contact form for a prompt reply.

James O. Cunningham

James O. CunninghamSince 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

Related Articles:

Do I Have A Case?

padlock 100% Secure and Confidential

Martindale Hubbell | Highest Ethical standing
  • Bar Register Preeminent Lawyers
  • The Florida Bar Board Certified
  • NBLSC Board Certified Lawyers
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Lead Counsel Rated
  • Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb
  • The Florida Bar Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
  • Avvo Clients' Choice Personal Injury
  • Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb Top Attorney Personal Injury
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent High Ethical Standing
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • Super Lawyers
  • Florida Legal Elite

Client Testimonials

5 StarsMr. Cunningham is an excellent and knowledgeable attorney.
I would and have recommended Mr. Cunningham as an attorney. I am extremely happy with the service he has provided for me and my family. I will definately use Mr. Cunningham in the future if I ever need an attorney again. John, a Personal Injury client

Read Reviews

Request a free 30-minute case evaluation with attorney James O. Cunningham. Request Free Evaluation

Close Form

Receive a free case evaluation.

All submissions are personally reviewed by attorney James O. Cunningham within hours.

padlock 100% Secure and Confidential