Being a victim of a car crash is always a stressful and confusing experience. But even more so if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. If you suffered injuries in an auto accident but were not wearing a seat belt when the collision occurred, you might be wondering if you can still recover damages despite your failure to buckle up.
Speak with our results-driven and dedicated Atlanta car accident attorneys at Howe.Law to determine if you can seek compensation for your injuries after a vehicle crash during which you were not wearing a seat belt.
Does Your Failure to Wear a Seat Belt Affect Compensation?
Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi laws require all motorists and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts when a vehicle is in motion. In some states, seat belt use is also mandatory for back seat passengers. In addition, if you obtain an injury in a car accident due to someone else’s fault, you might be able to seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy.
However, if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision, you might not be able to obtain full compensation if the at-fault driver’s insurer raises the “seat belt defense” to reduce the value of your claim.
Suppose you were involved in a vehicle crash but were not wearing a safety belt during the accident. In that case, we advise you to contact an experienced Gulfport car accident attorney. Your attorney will determine if your failure to buckle up can affect your compensation.
Why You Should Wear a Seat Belt When Driving
You may or may not know that it is essential to exercise due care when operating a motor vehicle. While you should ensure the safety of other motorists on the road, it is equally important to promote your safety.
One way to promote your safety is to always wear a seat belt when your motor vehicle is in motion. You should also ensure that your passengers are wearing seat belts to comply with your state’s laws.
Let’s discuss some of the top reasons to wear a seat belt when your vehicle is in motion:
1. Seat belt use can save your life
Statistically speaking, wearing a seat can significantly reduce your risk of suffering life-threatening and fatal injuries. So the first reason to buckle up when driving is that wearing a seat belt can save your life. However, there are many other reasons you should fasten up when operating a car.
2. Wearing a seat belt protects you from serious injuries
Seat belt use prevents many types of injuries because it holds you in your seat during a collision. If you are in a car crash when wearing a seat belt, seat belt use can prevent you from:
- Being thrown from the car
- Hitting the windshield
- Hitting the steering wheel
3. Seat belt use is mandatory
Seat belt use is mandatory in Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and other states. By wearing a seat belt, you are complying with the law. Not wearing a seat belt could result in fines or other consequences.
4. Airbags are more effective when wearing a seat belt
In a car accident, airbags will be more effective when a vehicle occupant is wearing a seat belt. If you do not buckle up, the airbag may not be able to keep you in place and protect you from serious injuries.
Can You Seek Compensation if You Weren’t Wearing a Seat Belt in Georgia?
The at-fault driver and their insurance company are likely to argue that your failure to wear a seat belt aggravated or caused your injuries suffered in the car accident in an attempt to reduce the amount of recoverable damages.
While you can use the seat belt defense to reduce your amount of damages, you can still seek compensation if you were not wearing a seat belt during the crash in Georgia.
Georgia law allows defendants and their insurance companies to raise the seat belt defense to seek a reduction in the injured party’s damages. It is difficult – and, in most cases, even impossible – to determine how your injuries would have been different had you worn a seat belt.
For this reason, it is advisable to be represented by a knowledgeable Alpharetta car accident attorney to help you fight against the seat belt defense. Even if you were not buckled up at the time of your car crash, you might still be able to recover damages if you can prove that the other party is responsible for causing the accident.
As mentioned earlier, it would be challenging to determine what injuries a victim would have sustained if they were wearing a seat belt. That is why you need a skilled Georgia car accident attorney on your side to fight for the compensation to which you are entitled and overcome the seat belt defense.
Can You Seek Compensation if You Weren’t Wearing a Seat Belt in Tennessee?
All motorists in Tennessee are legally required to wear a seat belt when operating a vehicle. If a driver is caught not wearing a seat belt, they will face a fine of $25 for a first offense and $50 for second or subsequent violations.
Unlike Georgia, Tennessee does not allow defendants in personal injury cases and insurance companies to use the seat belt defense to reduce the amount of the injured party’s damages. Thus, as long as your injury was due to another party’s negligence, the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt cannot be used to reduce your compensation.
Under T.C.A. § 55-9-604, while seat belt use is mandatory in Tennessee, the law prohibits using the victim’s failure to wear the safety belt as admissible evidence in a civil lawsuit.
If you were in a car accident and were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision, contact an experienced Knoxville, TN car accident lawyer to ensure that you receive total compensation for your injuries. Do not let the at-fault party or their insurance company use your failure to wear a seat belt to pay you as little as possible or deny your claim altogether.
Can You Seek Compensation if You Weren’t Wearing a Seat Belt in Mississippi?
It is mandatory to wear a seat belt at all times when a vehicle is in motion in Mississippi. Under Miss. Code § 63-2-7, a driver who fails to wear a seat belt can be fined $25. In addition, the driver will receive a fine for every passenger who is not wearing a seat belt.
While the civil penalties associated with a driver’s failure to wear a seat belt are relatively insignificant, the actual cost of one’s failure to buckle up is much more severe. As discussed above, vehicle occupants are more likely to sustain life-threatening injuries and die in a car accident if they are not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Despite the civil penalties and the increased risk of serious injuries, an injured party can still seek compensation for their injuries even if they were not wearing a seat belt during the collision. Not wearing a seat belt may reduce your recoverable damages. However, you may still seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
You can receive full compensation for losses that have nothing to do with your failure to wear a seat belt. Such damages include loss of income, the cost of repairing a vehicle, and others.
Speak with Car Accident Lawyers at Howe.Law
It is not uncommon for victims of car accidents to be reluctant to seek compensation for injuries when they were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. However, you may still be able to receive full or partial compensation for your damages and losses.
Do not miss out on the compensation you deserve just because you failed to buckle up before your accident occurred. Our Mississippi car accident lawyers at Howe.Law are ready to help you fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
You should contact our knowledgeable and dedicated attorneys to discuss your particular situation. At that time, we will determine what damages you can recover despite your failure to wear a seat belt. Our Alpharetta Injury lawyers can assist you with all of the following:
- Answer your questions and address your concerns after the car crash
- Review your particular situation to help you understand your rights and options
- Conduct an in-depth investigation and gather all available evidence to help you pursue the rightful compensation
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to protect your best interests
- If you and the other party cannot settle, our attorneys will take your case to trial to ensure that you receive maximum compensation
Do not hesitate to consult with our Nashville, TN car accident attorneys at Howe.Law. We will discuss how you can obtain compensation despite your failure to wear a seat belt. Schedule a case review by calling 844-876-4357 or filling out this contact form.