The chances of injuries in a car crash are much higher for those who choose not to use a seat belt. Most insurance companies try to use a lack of seat belt use against sufferers and devalue or deny their claims.
But, you are not automatically barred from filing a claim if you did not use a seat belt. If the other driver was at fault, your failure to wear a seat belt does not matter in the accident. But, not wearing a seat belt can diminish your compensation. Therefore you should speak to a Seattle car accident lawyer who can help you get the maximum compensation.
Can I file an injury claim if I was not wearing a seat belt?
Every driver and the passenger in the front seats above eight years traveling in a car, van, pickup, or SUV must wear a seat belt. Any driver found to be not wearing the seat belt can suffer additional fines and court fees. The law also requires the driver to use seat belts for anyone traveling in a car above 18 years. If the driver fails to do so and the minor suffers a severe injury, the driver will face felony charges.
There are two ways the at-fault party can use when asserting seat belt defense: failure to reduce damages and comparative negligence.
Failure to reduce damages
It allows the injury victim’s compensation to reduce if they did not act in a manner to reasonably reduce the extent of an injury. It means that if your claim proceeds to a lawsuit and you retrieve a favorable jury judgment, your compensation can be reduced if you were not using a seat belt at the time of the accident.
The insurance company will try to depreciate your claim based on the argument that you were not wearing a seat belt which led to your injuries. They will say that comparative negligence law should be applied and your fault should reduce the percentage of compensation.
Your attorney will be able to oppose the defense by claiming the issue of a seat belt does not affect the failure of the other driver. You could have been injured even if you were not wearing the seat belt.
If you are injured in an accident due to another driver’s fault, you have the right to pursue compensation, whether you were or not wearing the seat belt.