Wearing a seatbelt is vital to your safety and can also play an important role in Florida car accident cases. Not only can someone else be held responsible for your injuries, but you can also share liability.
If you’re severely injured in a car accident (while not wearing a seatbelt) caused by another driver’s negligence, a court could rule that you partly caused your injuries. In that case, even if your car accident lawyer “wins” your case, your settlement could be substantially lowered based on the percentage of injuries that were self-inflicted.
It’s always a good idea to wear a seatbelt. However, if you suffer significant injuries in an accident while not wearing one, you can still potentially recover damages.
Understanding Florida’s laws on no-fault insurance, comparative negligence, contributory negligence, and the seat belt defense typically requires an experienced car accident lawyer.
Contact Schrier Law Group Today to learn how we can help you recover maximum damages under your unique circumstances. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of wearing a seatbelt in your car accident case.
What Injuries Can You Get From Not Wearing a Seatbelt?
Colliding with a multi-ton vehicle at high speeds can cause significant injuries. That’s even truer if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. Typical injuries associated with not buckling your seatbelt include, but are not limited to:
- Internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Permanent disfigurement
Suppose you get into a car accident (caused by another driver) while not wearing a seatbelt. In that case, it can be challenging for a judge or jury to decide what actually caused your injuries. Was it the crash or that you didn’t have on a seatbelt? Typically, cases like this require an experienced car accident lawyer and expert medical witnesses.
Understanding Florida Negligence Laws
According to Florida Statute § 768.81, Florida is a “pure comparative negligence” state. That means you can still recover damages even if you were partly at fault for the accident. With that in mind, a court may deem that your injuries were worsened due to neglect to follow Florida seatbelt laws.
In that case, your judgment would be decreased by the amount of your liability. For example, if the court finds that you were 25 percent responsible for your injuries, you can expect 75 percent of the initial recovery amount.
How The Seat Belt Defense Can Derail Your Case
In most Florida car accident cases, the defendant and plaintiff are assigned a percentage of the responsibility for the collision and subsequent injuries. However, if a judge or jury believes you contributed to your injuries, it can significantly affect potential judgments.
In Florida, not wearing a seatbelt can be considered contributory negligence (i.e., the seatbelt defense). Depending on the facts of the case, the defendant’s insurer or car accident lawyer may assert that the plaintiff is partially at fault for their injuries.
If they are successful in their argument, it can drastically lower the total damages awarded in car accident cases. Generally, an insurer must prove the following facts to assert the seatbelt defense successfully:
- There was an available and functioning seat that the plaintiff neglected to use.
- Their refusal to wear a seatbelt was unreasonable according to the situation.
- The plaintiff’s decision not to wear a seatbelt significantly contributed to their injuries.
Can I Still Recover Damages If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
You can still potentially recover financial compensation even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. However, it will make your car accident lawyer’s job significantly more challenging.
Generally, individuals who suffer serious injuries resulting from the negligence of another driver are eligible to pursue the following damages (regardless if they wore a seatbelt or not):
- Medical bills
- Cost of rehabilitation
- Lost income
- Permanent disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of joy
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t wait until the Florida statute of limitations expires before pursuing your case. Learn how a car accident lawyer at Schrier Law Group can help below.
Contact A Proven Car Accident Lawyer
Not wearing a seatbelt can be detrimental to a plaintiff’s goal of maximum compensation. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult with a Florida car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Depending on the facts of the case, your car accident lawyer may be able to pinpoint other factors that led to your injuries, thus leading to a more favorable result. Contact Schrier Law Group today at 1-800-700-7285 for your free case review.