What If I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt at The Time of My Accident? Can I Still Recover Damages?
All drivers and passengers of motor vehicles in Florida must wear seat belts when inside their vehicles. Otherwise, violators can face fines and other implications. Besides that, failing to wear a seat belt can also significantly impact your car accident claim. Fortunately, just because you weren’t buckled up when the crash occurred doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot recover damages if you were injured. However, failure to buckle up can lead to reduced compensation.
Why You Should Always Buckle Up
Put simply, wearing your seat belt minimizes your risk of severe injuries or death when you get into a crash. For instance, it can help reduce your risk of being severely injured or dying by preventing you from being ejected from your vehicle if you get into an accident.
In addition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 23,824 people riding in passenger vehicles were killed in 2020, and 51% of them weren’t wearing their seat belts during the accident. In 2017, 14,955 lives were saved because they were buckled up during a crash, but 2,549 people would have been saved if they were wearing their seat belts.
How Not Wearing Your Seat Belt Can Impact Your Car Accident Claim
If you suffered serious injuries in a crash and you were not buckled up, when you file your claim against the at-fault party, they will most likely bring up the fact that you were not wearing your seat belt. This is known as the seat belt defense, which the at-fault party can assert by proving that:
- You failed to wear your seat belt
- Your failure to buckle up was unreasonable, given the circumstances
- Your failure to wear a seat belt contributed to or directly caused your injuries and related losses
Fortunately, your claim will not be dismissed automatically, even if you weren’t wearing your seat belt when you got injured in the crash. Florida law allows you to recover damages if you can prove that the other party’s negligence led to the crash and your serious injuries.
The state’s comparative fault law enables injured claimants to seek compensation, even if they’re partly to blame for the accident and resulting injuries. One caveat, though, is if it can be proven that your failure to buckle up worsened your injuries, the compensation you can recoup from the other party will be minimized by your level of fault.
Let’s say you get injured in a crash in which another driver sideswiped your car, and it was proven that your failure to buckle up made your injury 15% worse. You may still file your claim for compensation because the other driver’s fault for the crash is 85%.
Reach Out to a Skilled Clearwater Car Accident Attorney Now
If you need legal advice after sustaining injuries in a motor vehicle crash while you weren’t wearing your seat belt, please do not hesitate to contact the Clearwater car accident attorney at Tragos, Sartes & Tragos. You can learn more about your options for recovering damages and schedule your free case review with our Clearwater car accident attorney by calling our office at 727-441-9030 or sending us an online message.