Does Not Wearing a Seat Belt Disqualify You From Filing an Injury Claim?

When it comes to assigning blame for a traffic accident, the driver who violated the right-of-way, ignored a traffic control device, drove while impaired, or through some other happenstance that caused the collision, is held accountable. That seems straightforward and understandable. If you are ever injured in a traffic accident that was not your own fault, you should always file a claim with your insurance company and follow through with your local police department to make sure that any applicable charges are filed against the other driver. That again sounds simple, but there is one big obstacle. You will inevitably be asked if you were wearing your seatbelt. If you were, you should have no problems. If you weren't, you may have trouble.

Does Not Wearing a Seat Belt Disqualify You From Filing an Injury Claim?
[image: pexels by]

Why is Seat Belt Usage so Important?

Using a seat belt isn't just important for the driver, it's also important for any passengers who were injured in a collision. That's because it's required by law. Only one state, New Hampshire, doesn't require that the drivers and all passengers inside a vehicle wear seat belts while the car is in motion. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of the injuries, you may be hiring an accident attorney in addition to filing a claim with your insurance company. If you or any of your passengers were not wearing seat belts, the driver who was at fault and his insurance company may be able to use that against you.

The Seat Belt Defense

This is a strategy that is used by insurance adjusters and attorneys. Simply put, if you were not wearing your seatbelt, then you were partly to blame for the severity of the injuries you sustained in the accident. Even though the accident was not your fault, you will be partly to blame for not following the seat belt laws as they apply in your state of residence. As a result, they will argue that the amount of compensation you are seeking should be reduced, sometimes drastically.

Currently, twenty-six states prohibit the use of evidence supporting the fact that the innocent driver was not wearing a seat belt. In total, there are thirty states that have no provision for the use of the seat belt defense. Alternatively, there are fifteen states that do allow the defense to be used in some way. The defense can be allowed either by statute or by legal precedent. That's why it's very important to consult an attorney if this becomes an issue in your injury claim or lawsuit.

Comparative Fault and Mitigation

There are two more legal concepts that can be used in conjunction with the seat belt defense.

1. Comparative Fault - This means that the amount of money you could receive to compensate you for your injuries is reduced. The amount of the reduction is intended to show the degree of fault you are responsible for by not wearing your seatbelt. This judgment can vary from state to state.

2. Mitigation - This principle states that drivers have a legal duty to prevent or reduce damages they may suffer in an accident. Because a seat belt wasn't used, the attorney can argue that the injured driver wouldn't have suffered the same injuries if he or she had worn the seat belt. This argument will also jeopardize the amount of money you might receive for injury compensation.

If the seat belt defense is used against you, it will be up to the other driver's attorney to prove that you were not wearing your seat belt and that alone was the cause of most or all of your injuries. These defenses require in-depth investigations into the causes of the accident, examination of the medical records of the injured parties, and sometimes the testimony of expert witnesses. It is not necessarily an easy thing to prove but depending on the state, it may be allowed in court.

Should You Still File a Claim?

You should always file a claim anytime you are injured in a traffic accident, but you may also have to hire an accident attorney if you have to face this issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Leave a Comment to show some Love ~ Thanks