Buckling up isn’t just a slogan. It’s a safe choice. Statistics show that seat belts saved more than 14,950 lives in 2017, and as many as 2,500 more lives could’ve been saved if they’d been wearing safety belts.
If you’re in Florida and riding in a vehicle, the driver and any passengers should be wearing a seatbelt. This is the law. Unfortunately, there are many car accident cases where someone failed to buckle up.
When this happens, you could suffer much more serious and catastrophic injuries. In addition, your failure to buckle up can negatively impact your Tampa personal injury claim.
Not only is it the law, but it could affect your claim
If you try to file a claim but weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, this could hurt your case. The court looks more favorably at cases where drivers are wearing a seatbelt. Not only is it against the law not to not wear a seat belt, but doing so could have reduced your injuries.
That said, you may still be able to file a personal injury claim, even if you were unbuckled. Let’s say you were hit by another vehicle. Perhaps, it’s determined that you would’ve suffered injuries even if you were wearing a seatbelt. The one who caused the crash is the one responsible for any injuries.
But no matter who caused the crash, the judge might not award as much compensation if you weren’t protecting yourself by wearing a seatbelt.
What is the seat belt defense?
Sometimes, car accident victims contribute to their own injuries. While this wasn’t intentional, it can happen under certain circumstances.
For instance, if you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of your accident, then the defendant could argue that you partially contributed to your injuries. This is what’s known as the “seat belt defense.”
Let’s say another car hit you. The cost of medical attention, lost wages and pain and suffering add up to $100,000. You decide you want to file a personal injury claim to help cover those costs.
When the judge looks at your case and sees that you weren’t wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred, they may decide to reduce your compensation.
By not buckling up, the judge might consider you partially at fault for your own injuries.
This is called “comparative fault” or “comparative negligence.”
Florida statute § 761.81 states that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence will not prohibit a lawsuit, but it “diminishes proportionally” the amount of compensation they can receive.
Every case is different when it comes to using seat belts
In some cases, wearing a seat belt wouldn’t have made a big difference in the injuries or damage sustained. In others, it would’ve changed everything. Our Tampa injury attorneys can review your case to let you know if this will hurt your personal injury claim. We’ll advocate for you so you can receive as much compensation for your injuries as possible.
Lorenzo & Lorenzo’s team of legal experts specialize in a wide variety of auto and vehicle accident cases in the Tampa area. If you’re the victim of a vehicle collision, don’t hesitate.