But while personal injury claims usually deal with the negligence of the other party, sometimes accident victims are also partially at fault for their injuries. One of the major reasons that people are injured or killed in car accidents is because of their failure to properly wear seat belts – whether or not they were responsible for causing the accident. According to the CDC, more than half of the teens (aged 13-19 years) and adults (aged 20-44 years) who died in crashes in 2016 were not buckled up at the time of the crash. Additionally, of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% were not wearing seat belts. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts, according to the NHTSA.
So if you’re injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, but you weren’t wearing a seat belt, can you still claim personal injury compensation? Will your lack of seat belt use be considered negligence?
Will Not Wearing a Seat Belt Hurt Your Case?
According to Nolo, you can still file a car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver if you’re injured in a car accident and you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. But your failure to buckle up could have a significant impact on the amount you will ultimately recover.
According to Lawyers.com, people who don’t wear a seat belt in a moving vehicle are generally considered negligent, meaning they are often seen as partially at fault for their injuries. This holds true under Florida state law. Florida’s comparative negligence theory says that while the accident victim might be partially at fault for their injuries due to some negligence, they can recover at least some damages for their injuries.
Florida law allows the person not wearing their seat belt to still claim compensation for injuries, but this negligence will generally result in more difficulty claiming full injury compensation, especially compared to victims who were buckled up properly. And additional negligence will impact the victim’s case even more. That’s where an experienced personal injury attorney steps in!
One of the easiest ways you can protect yourself from serious injury or death caused by a car accident is to properly wear your seat belt every time you get in your car.
Tips for Correct Seat Belt Use to Prevent Injury or Death
Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%, according to NHTSA.
Seat belts are the best defense against the hazards you can’t control: impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers. Being completely ejected from a vehicle is almost always deadly, and seat belts act to prevent this.
Remember that airbags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Failing to wear your seat belt could mean that you are thrown into a rapidly opening frontal airbag, and such a force can cause serious injuries and even death, according to NHTSA
The NHTSA suggests the following guidelines to buckle up safely and prevent injuries and death:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which are better able to withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.
- Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
- The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.
- NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
Next Steps for Claiming Compensation
You weren’t wearing a seat belt in your car accident, now what? If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence you can still claim compensation – even if you partially contributed to your injuries by failing to buckle up properly. However, if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, it will make your case more complicated. It’s critical to get an experienced personal injury attorney on your side as soon as possible! The Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Rosenberg specializes in car accident cases in Boca Raton, FL and is ready to fight for the full compensation you’re entitled to, no matter how complex your case it! Call (561) 508-8800 or send us a message online.
5255 North Federal Highway, 3rd Floor
Boca Raton, FL 33487