West Virginia Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges GMC Seatbelt Broke in Accident

A man whose wife died in a July automobile accident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash, as well as General Motors Company and an unnamed seatbelt manufacturer.

Miguel A. Hernandez filed the negligence and product liability lawsuit in Putnam Circuit Court on October 13, according to a report in the West Virginia Record. The complaint alleges that his 1995 GMC Safari minivan was rear-ended and forced off the road on Interstate 64 on July 5 by a vehicle driven by Ashley D. Burgess. Hernandez suffered severe, permanent injuries, and his wife, Isabel Calderon Alejo, died from injuries received during the rollover crash.

In addition to claims for the negligence of Burgess in failing to control her vehicle, the accident lawsuit claims that Alejo’s seatbelt was defective and failed during the accident, causing her to be ejected from the vehicle when it swerved into a ditch. Hernandez alleges that General Motors and the seatbelt manufacturer knew, or should have known that the seat belt was defectively designed and could fail.

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Nearly 19,000 1996-97 GMC Safaris and Chevrolet Astros were recalled in 1998 due to defective right rear seat belts. It was discovered that the seat belts could fail, separating during a crash, potentially causing severe passenger injury. The recalled vehicles had a protector installed in the seat frame to alleviate the problem. It is unknown whether the alleged seatbelt problems in Hernandez’s 1995 GMC Safari minivan may be related to the defect that resulted in the recall for some 1996 and 1997 model year vehicles.


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