Oftentimes people assume they cannot file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the person who caused an accident if they weren’t wearing a seatbelt. However, this is absolutely not the case. If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else and you were not wearing a seatbelt, do not fret, you most certainly can still bring a claim.
In the State of California, the law requires drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt. However, California is a comparative negligence state which means someone who failed to wear a seatbelt and sustained in injury isn’t barred from filing a claim, it’s just that their compensation or recovery from an at fault driver may be reduced per their negligence.
If you file a claim against an at fault driver for injuries you sustained in an accident, be prepared to have the defendant or their legal team assert what is called the ‘seat belt defense.’. The seat belt defense is exactly that, a defense asserted by the defendant to limit or lower his culpability in an accident. It has the potential to help that defendant pay less damages to a victim than they would have to if that claimant was wearing a seatbelt.
Then it will be argued between the plaintiff and defendant’s legal teams to what extent the injuries could have been if the claimant was wearing a seatbelt. If the case cannot be settled, then a jury or a judge (more times a jury) must determine the extent that not wearing a seatbelt caused and affected the severity of your injuries. Depending on whose argument is more successful, one’s claim may be worth drastically less.
Obviously, the injured claimant will assert a number of arguments, including but not limited to:
- Wearing a seatbelt would not have made a difference;
- A plaintiff is not required to anticipate negligence of other drivers;
- Seat belt test are not accurate;
- The plaintiff would have sustained injuries regardless of wearing a seatbelt.
If you were not wearing a seatbelt and were injured in a car accident due to the fault of someone else, you are certainly still allowed to bring a claim. Contact our office to learn more about your legal options.