A 52-year-old Costa Mesa woman is dead after she was ejected from her Jeep Wrangler, which rolled over on the northbound 5 Freeway near Avenida Vaquero in San Clemente, The Orange County Register reports. Gloria Ann Weaver reportedly died in the rollover accident. Officials are still not clear what caused the accident and why the vehicle flipped, the article states.
There is no mention in the article whether or not she was wearing a seatbelt. Officials are still investigating, but I hope they don’t jump to the conclusion that she was not wearing a seatbelt just because she was ejected from the vehicle. Many times traffic accident reports will jump to the conclusion that an ejected occupant of a vehicle in an accident wasn’t wearing a seatbelt simply because they were ejected.
Our law firm has been involved with dozens of auto accident cases where an official accident report states that an ejected person wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, yet our experts on close examination of the involved seatbelt system, found evidence of use at the time of the accident and/or failure of the system. My partner, Brian Chase, is one of the most knowledgeable seatbelt failure attorneys in the country. Personal injury attorneys from all over the country consult with him on their seatbelt failure cases.
Consider this article on the Public Citizen Web site. According to their findings, about 16 million Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge vehicles are equipped with a Gen 3 seat belt that fails an auto industry standard for accidental release. In other words, it can pop open even when the wearer does not intend it to be released. And unfortunately, there is a higher probability of this happening when vehicles are involved in “sudden stops, turns, collisions or rollovers” – at times when drivers and passengers need their seatbelts the most.
A number of deaths and injuries have been attributed over the years to the use of Gen 3 seatbelts by auto makers in numerous vehicle models although consumer advocate groups, for the last five years, have been demanding a complete recall of these vehicles equipped with these defective seatbelts. The Gen 3 isn’t the only seatbelt system that has performance failures resulting in deaths and serious injuries.
Weaver’s family would be well-advised to consult with a personal injury attorney who specializes in product liability and auto defect lawsuits, an attorney who is very knowledgeable in defective seatbelt systems. The family may need a thorough investigation to determine if there were any seatbelt defects or anything went wrong with the vehicle, if there was an inherent defect or malfunction, which caused the vehicle to roll over.
In serious auto accident cases, there should never be hasty conclusions as to the cause. The investigating police do not always have the time, resources or training to determine the real causes of an auto accident. In cases of really serious injuries only an analysis by a team of experts is going to reveal the real causes of a traffic wreck. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Weaver family and we hope they find the answers to questions they probably have in this case. They deserve a complete and thorough investigation and nothing less.