Can Failing to Wear a Seatbelt Hurt My Case After a Car Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Micah L. Satterwhite with Sloan Firm.
Seatbelt laws require drivers and passengers alike to remain buckled up when inside a vehicle. If someone is injured in an accident while not wearing a seatbelt, that person’s eligibility to receive compensation for their damages may depend on several factors. Depending on the state, it could be argued that the injured party was comparatively negligent in the accident, especially if their lack of a seatbelt contributed to the injury. Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine in which an injured party may be eligible to receive compensation for their damages in the same percentage that they are considered not to be at fault for their injury. However, some states are not comparative negligence states; in these places an injured party may still seek compensation as long as their failure to wear a seatbelt was 50% or less responsible for the injury.
If the injury would have occurred to the same extent while wearing a seatbelt, failure to wear one may not affect the case.
If a jury decides that an injury would have occurred to the same extent even if the injured party had been wearing a seatbelt, it may be possible for the injured party to receive full compensation. However, considering the proven importance of seatbelts to driver and passenger safety, it is more likely for an injury to be lessened or even eliminated by use of a seatbelt. Due to the bias many jurors may have against those who fail to wear a seatbelt, it’s a good idea to reach out to an accident attorney. These attorneys can present evidence to a jury in an effort to make them sympathetic to your situation. Additionally, if your injury was not significantly affected by the lack of a seatbelt, it may be possible for your attorney to bring in experts to evaluate your case and present convincing evidence to a jury.
If an injury occurred as a direct result of failing to wear a seatbelt, compensation could be severely affected.
This is why it’s important to speak to an accident attorney if you were injured in an accident while not wearing a seatbelt, or for which you may otherwise be partially at fault. It will be up to your attorney and legal team to present your case to a jury in a way that helps them recognize the lowest percentage of fault that can be attributed to you for your injury in order to be awarded the most compensation possible. However, if wearing a seatbelt would have likely prevented the injury altogether, it may not be possible to recover any compensation.
Avoid discussing details of the accident.
Many people assume immediately after an accident that they understood what caused the accident and who is at fault. However, this is not always the case. It’s important to refrain from discussing the accident with other parties that may be involved. It is also a good idea to refrain from discussing details of the accident with your insurance provider. The best choice you can make regarding insurance after being involved in an accident without a seatbelt is to let any inquiring insurance company know that your attorney will be handling the case on your behalf. Simply collect the contact information for your own and any other relevant insurance companies and let an experienced accident attorney handle the rest. Even if you are decided to be partially at fault for your own injuries by failing to wear a seatbelt, you may still be eligible for some compensation.