There is no doubt that wearing a seat belt will not only save your life but substantially reduce the severity of your injuries in the vast majority of cases. Seat belts do a number of things, such as keep the driver behind the wheel and in control of the vehicle for as long as possible or keep you from being thrown from the car. If you are thrown from the car, you have five times the chance of dying1 in the car crash than if you were not thrown.
To keep you safe, Florida seat belt law2 is pretty straightforward. Everyone in the front seat and all passengers, regardless of where they sit in the car, must wear a seat belt. Children under three must be in a federally-approved car seat and the driver is the responsible party for ensuring that the child is properly restrained. There are exceptions for those who deliver newspapers or who have a physician who certifies a statement that a medical condition prohibits them from wearing a seat belt for certain safety reasons.
Seat Belt Defense in Florida
There are legal consequences to not wearing a seat belt in Florida. Consider yourself lucky if the only legal issue you face with not wearing a seat belt is paying a ticket because many people who fail to wear a seatbelt end up with serious injuries in car accidents and have to file a personal injury claim.
In 1966, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that Florida shall follow the doctrine of comparative negligence. That ruling is important because it leads insurance companies to try to reduce your damages by claiming that you contributed to your own injuries by not wearing a seat belt. The same can be true for an adverse party in a personal injury lawsuit.
For example, imagine you go to trial and the jury decides that you suffered damages in the amount of five hundred thousand dollars. At the same time, the jury decides that you are ten percent contributorily negligent. This means that the maximum you can recover, assuming the jury verdict holds up, is four hundred fifty thousand dollars.
Even if you did not cause the accident, which in turn caused the injury, not wearing a seat belt can be a substantial impediment to fully recovering in your case. Many other states have similar legal doctrines that allow an insurance company to reduce the amount of damages that they have to pay if they find you somehow contributed to your injuries.
Contact a Clearwater, Florida Auto Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation Today
Whether you were wearing your seat belt or not, if you are ever involved in an auto accident, you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney. The team of attorneys at The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have the experience and compassion you need to help you no matter what the facts of your case may be. We can be reached at (727) 451-6900 or by contacting us online.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765