If you were injured in a car accident when you weren't wearing a seatbelt, you may be worried that you won't be able to recover from your injuries. It's possible not wearing a seatbelt might hurt your case, but you will still be able to receive compensation in many situations.
One of the most important steps in a car accident lawsuit is determining negligence. Negligence means failing to observe reasonable care. In other words, negligence means who caused the accident.
Whether you were wearing a seatbelt has nothing to do with who caused the accident. Not wearing a seatbelt didn't make the other driver speed, run a red light, or do whatever they did to cause the accident.
Not wearing a seatbelt isn't a reverse uno or get-out-of-jail-free card, either. In any accident case, the police, insurance companies, or judge will still look at which driver caused the accident first. They won't see that you were wearing a seatbelt and automatically decide you were responsible for the crash.
Many places have what is called comparative negligence laws. Comparative negligence means that the parties in an accident will be assigned responsibility for an accident according to their degree of fault.
Comparative negligence is important in a case where you weren't wearing a seatbelt because even though not wearing a seatbelt doesn't change which driver was at fault, it can affect your injuries. Not wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between very serious injuries or only minor injuries or not being injured at all.
Comparative negligence might reduce what you're able to recover. If a court finds that your injuries were made much worse by not wearing a seatbelt, you might get a reduced award that compensates you for the expected level of injuries if you had been wearing a seatbelt.
Seatbelt laws can also come into play. In most situations, you're required to wear a seatbelt and not wearing a seatbelt could cause you to receive less compensation under comparative negligence.
In some situations, you're not required to wear a seatbelt. This includes backseat passengers in some places or passengers in larger vehicles like buses or recreational vehicles.
If you weren't legally required to wear a seatbelt, not wearing a seatbelt usually won't affect your legal claim. That's because you wouldn't have been doing anything wrong that could have possibly made your injuries from the accident worse.
For more information, contact a local car accident attorney.