Can I File a Car Accident Claim if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat belt?
Not wearing a seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle is a horrible idea. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 22,215 occupants of passenger vehicles died in traffic accidents. Of the fatalities, 10,441 (47%) were not wearing a seat belt. In a previous study conducted on data from 2017, wearing seat belts saved approximately 14,955 lives. If everyone wore seat belts during that year, there was the chance to save an additional 2,549 lives.
You are lucky to be alive if you were involved in a serious auto accident while not wearing your seat belt.
If you or a loved one was injured in a serious accident while not wearing a seat belt, you are likely to need the help of a lawyer. Contact an attorney by calling (281) 475-4535 immediately.
California Seat Belt Defense
California law allows a person who was not wearing a seat belt to bring a lawsuit. However, your ability to collect a settlement for your full damages may face the “seat belt defense.” This defense is useful for the party who caused the accident and their insurance company. It is a strategy used to reduce the compensation for a claim.
California courts only allow compensation for any injuries that would have occurred if the passenger wore a seat belt. This rule is because a person’s failure to wear a seat belt, required by state law, contributed to the severity of the injuries. In other words, you are partially at fault for your damages if you did not wear a seat belt.
As you might imagine, there may be considerable disagreement between the parties to a lawsuit about what injuries would have occurred if a person was wearing a seat belt. In this type of legal case, you need representation by a qualified attorney.
If you do not file a lawsuit and make a claim with the insurance company, the adjuster from the insurance company will know about the seat belt defense. The adjuster may lower any offered compensation accordingly. For the best results, do not try to negotiate with the insurance adjuster yourself. Get your lawyer to do this.
No Nevada Seat Belt Defense
Nevada has different laws than California. Nevada does not permit using the seat belt defense in lawsuits. If the accident happened in Nevada, it makes no difference whether you were wearing a seat belt or not in regards to compensation for injuries.
Nevada law, NRS 484D. 495 (4)(b) says that not wearing a seatbelt is not considered negligence or causation in any lawsuit.
Contact an Attorney Today!
Not wearing a seat and getting hurt in an auto accident is a serious matter that requires the help of an experienced attorney to preserve your rights and make sure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Call (281) 475-4535 before you talk to any insurance adjuster. If you prefer, you can fill out the online form to schedule an appointment for a free consultation with an attorney. And, always wear your seat belt when driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle.