Not Wearing a Seat Belt Can Negatively Affect Your Personal Injury Case
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reminds both drivers and passengers that seat belts are among the best vehicles’ safety features, but they only work when used. Under F.S. 316.614, it is unlawful for any driver or passenger over 18 years to sit in the front seat of a vehicle without wearing a seat belt. Passengers under the age of 18 need to be restrained by a seat belt regardless of where they are seated.
Importance of Wearing Seat Belts
According to FLHSMV, wearing seat belts is of vital importance because it prevents;
- vehicle occupants from being ejected from vehicles
- vehicle occupants from being thrown against each other or parts of the vehicle such as the steering wheel
Wearing a seat belt also ensures that drivers remain behind the wheel, where they should remain, to control vehicles comfortably.
A seat belt’s ability to prevent an individual from being ejected from a vehicle or being thrown against another vehicle occupant or the vehicle means that this safety feature can prevent you from suffering severe injuries when involved in an accident. Nonetheless, wearing a seat belt is not only important because it keeps you safe or helps reduce the severity of your injuries in case of an accident.
Wearing a seat belt ensures you do not jeopardize your personal injury case when involved in an accident. After an auto crash, you might focus all your efforts on proving that the other driver was negligent. However, suppose you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. In that case, you also stand being accused of negligence, and due to the comparative negligence law, you risk affecting your settlement amount.
The Law on Comparative Negligence
In Florida, you have the right to file a personal injury claim after being involved in a car accident as long as you can prove that the other party’s negligence led to the accident. However, under Florida Statute 768.81, you may affect your damage award if you share some of the blame with the defendant. When you share some part of the blame, the settlement amount you receive is less than that which you would have received if you did not share the blame.
Failure to wear a seat belt comes into play in your personal injury case when the court feels that the act is a contributing factor in your injuries. Since the Florida law requires you to wear a seat belt, the court can consider your lack of wearing it when determining how much settlement to award you. The cause of the accident may not have been your lack of wearing a seat belt, but as long as your negligent act played a role in increasing the severity of the injuries you suffered, your compensation amount will reduce.
How Does the Defense Use Your Lack of Wearing a Seat Belt Against You?
In a Florida personal injury claim, the defense team can use medical evidence to prove to the court that the lack of wearing a seat belt impacted the severity of your injuries. The other party’s lawyer might involve an expert who can prove that you would not have suffered the same injuries had you been wearing a seat belt. For example, assume you broke your clavicle in an auto accident. A doctor can prove to the court that had you been wearing a seat belt, that would not have happened. If they can successfully do that, the court will reduce your settlement amount by a certain percentage.
How Can a Naples Car Accident Attorney Help You If You Were Not Wearing a Seat Belt During Your Accident?
An experienced auto accident attorney can assist you and your family receive the fair compensation you deserve, even in a scenario where you did not remember to buckle up. Experts usually work towards proving that an injury would have still occurred whether or not a plaintiff was wearing a seat belt. For instance, if you broke your nose and the defense team tries to use your lack of wearing a seat belt against you, your attorney can defend you. Your broken nose could have been due to the airbags deploying, meaning you would still have been injured even with your seatbelt on.
Contact Us for Assistance Today
If you were not wearing a seat belt when an accident happened and require help so you can receive fair compensation, contact Naples car accident attorney at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.