Can I File a Car Accident Claim If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt?
Buckling up can significantly reduce the risk of suffering serious injuries in a collision. However, at some point, many drivers will put tires on the tarmac without strapping in. If you were injured in an auto accident and you weren’t wearing a seat belt, you may be wondering if this can affect the outcome of your auto insurance claim.
In many states, insurance companies can employ the “seat belt defense” to dispute liability. Even if you were in no way responsible for causing the crash, the insurance company may argue that if you had buckled up, your injuries would have been less severe. This can result in a reduced settlement. However, an attorney can help pre-empt disputes over liability, causation, and damages and develop strategies to counter the defendant’s arguments.
What Should I Do If I Was Hurt in a Car Crash but Not Wearing My Seat Belt?
The claims process starts the moment the crash takes place. As a result, whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not, it’s important you don’t admit fault or make other statements that can be used to challenge your claim.
Let’s explore steps you should take if you were injured in a crash and you were not wearing a seat belt:
1. Contact Authorities:
In the event of a serious accident, police will respond to traffic and compile an official accident report. While in many states, an accident report is considered hearsay and is therefore not admissible as evidence during trial, an attorney may still use this document to help build your claim.
2. Check for Injuries:
Check to see whether anyone has been seriously hurt and requires immediate medical treatment. Contact emergency services if necessary.
3. Gather Information:
If you are able to, swap insurance details and contact information with the other drivers and pedestrians involved in the collision.
4. Speak to Eyewitnesses:
Anyone who may have witnessed the crash take place could provide valuable information that may assist your attorney in corroborating the facts of your case. Take down the names and contact details of any eyewitnesses. Your lawyer may choose to speak to these eyewitnesses when building your claim.
5. Visit the Doctor:
Even if you only sustained minor injuries, it’s important to seek immediate medical treatment. These medical records will help your attorney connect your injuries to the accident. It will also help show that you took sufficient steps to mitigate damages.
6. Don’t Post About Your Accident Online:
Insurance companies can and do monitor the social media activity of crash victims filing a claim. Statements you make on these platforms could later be used to challenge your claim. For example, you may admit that you were distracted when the crash took place, in which case the claims adjuster may argue that you are responsible for causing the accident.
7. Contact a Lawyer:
Before corresponding with the insurance company, it’s in your best interests to speak to a car accident attorney. A lawyer can help you fight for fair compensation by developing strategies to counter any disputes that may arise when you file your claim. Additionally, an attorney can represent you in negotiations with the insurance company.
Find a Car Accident Attorney Near You
If you were injured in an auto accident and you were not wearing a seat belt, you may encounter many disputes when filing your claim. At Attorneys for All, we can help connect you with a car accident attorney who can discuss the merits of your claim as part of a free consultation. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-776-9558 to set up a free consultation with a lawyer in your area.