Can I Claim if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?

May 10, 2022
Can I Claim if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?

If you were in a car accident and did not wear a seat belt, you may still have a right to claim compensation. However, the validity of your claim and the amount you can recover as compensation will depend on your case. To better understand your legal options, consider talking to a car accident lawyer.

According to a recent report, seatbelts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in passenger vehicles in 2017. There are many fatal consequences of not wearing a seatbelt. While this is true, several drivers and passengers often fail to wear a seatbelt. However, you may still be able to claim if you weren't wearing a seatbelt.

Can I Claim If I Wasn't Wearing a Seat Belt?

Yes. However, filing a claim after a crash when you were not wearing a seatbelt depends on your injuries and the state laws. In many states, you can face legal charges and fines if you fail to wear a seatbelt.

Though seatbelts are often required by law, the often law doesn't prevent an injured car accident victim from filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party if one was not worn. However, the liable party may use this fact as a defense to argue that you're not entitled to compensation. It may be helpful to hire a car accident lawyer to help you obtain fair compensation.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

In at-fault states, such as Texas, the at-fault party is typically liable for paying damages. Accident victims can file a claim against the at-fault party and hold them liable for the damages they cause. 

Under the comparative negligence law, accident victims can be held partly responsible for damages if their negligence also contributed to the accident or injuries, regardless of who primarily caused it. This means that victims can often claim a certain percentage of damages even if they were partially at fault. However, under the modified comparative negligence law, accident victims can claim compensation from other liable parties if they're not more than 50 percent at fault. 

Texas, for instance, has a modified comparative negligence law. However, these laws will vary from state to state. You can consult an attorney to help you investigate the cause of the accident and determine how much fault you carry. 

Under the comparative negligence law, the amount you receive as compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if the claim is worth $100,000 and you're 10 percent at fault, you'll likely only receive $90,000 as compensation. 

What Are Common Injuries When Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

Seat belts act as restrains and prevent body movement during an accident. If you aren't wearing a seat belt during a crash, your body will keep moving, and you could be thrown out of the car window. Such impacts cause far worse injuries than those you may sustain when wearing a seatbelt. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), out of the 22,697 passengers and drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes in 2018, half of the individuals in the fatal accidents were not buckled up at the time of the accident. Moreover, survivors often sustain severe and expensive injuries that may also involve extensive hospitalization and aftercare costs. 

Some of these injuries include:

  • Paralysis
  • Neck and spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Broken ribs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Facial lacerations
  • Loss of limbs

How Can a Lawyer Help My Claim When I Wasn't Wearing a Seatbelt?

Failure to wear a seat belt at the time of the accident can often affect your claim. Since the at-fault party can use the seatbelt defense to devalue or deny your claim, you may want to enlist the services of a lawyer familiar with such cases to help with your claim. You often have a right to claim compensation even if you're partially at fault. However, proving your degree of fault is often crucial to determining how much compensation you will receive.

Contact the Dolman Law Group for a Free Case Review

If you've sustained injuries in a car crash and were not wearing a seat belt, you may still be able to claim compensation from the at-fault party. At the Dolman Law Group, we're ready to review your case, determine your degree of fault, and help you fight for fair compensation. Contact us today for a free case review.