Every year, around 15,000 people survive road crashes because they wore a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt reduces your risk of injury or death in a car accident by up to 50%. Florida law mandates that all passengers and drivers in motor vehicles wear a seatbelt.
If you were in a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, it can affect your car accident claim. It’s essential to always have your seatbelt on while in a car for legal and safety reasons.
This guide will discuss how not wearing a seatbelt can affect a car accident claim. We’ll detail the requirements set forth by the state of Florida.
Basic Information About Florida’s Seatbelt Law
Florida passed a law in 2009 that said all passengers and drivers need to wear a seatbelt. Failing to wear a seatbelt is a primary traffic offense. You can get stopped by a cop and receive a citation if anyone in your vehicle isn’t wearing a seatbelt.
There are a few exceptions to the seatbelt law. For example, the following individuals don’t have to wear a seatbelt:
- Employees delivering newspapers
- An individual driving farm equipment
- People riding in a school bus bought new before December 31, 2000
- A person certified by a doctor who has a medical condition where wearing a seatbelt is dangerous or inappropriate
Failing to wear a seatbelt can cause people involved in a traffic collision to get ejected from their vehicle. Some of the injuries that might result from that include:
- Facial injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Dental injuries
- Road rash
- Broken bones
You still have a right to receive compensation for your injuries, even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
What’s Pure Comparative Negligence in Florida?
Per Florida state law, people who’ve suffered injuries due to another person’s negligent driving have a legal right to recover their losses. However, if they weren’t wearing a seatbelt and their injuries were more severe. They will reduce the amount of compensation received.
In some other states, the court will automatically dismiss your case for failing to wear a seatbelt. That’s not the case in Florida. Having an experienced car accident lawyer will help you argue your case to receive the highest amount possible.
For example, say you were in a car accident caused by another driver running a red light. You were driving without a seatbelt. When pursuing compensation for your injuries, the other party could argue that failing to wear a seatbelt contributed to your injuries.
While the other driver is to blame for the car accident, the other party could also claim that you were negligent for not wearing a seatbelt. In Florida, not wearing a seatbelt isn’t automatically negligent. But, they could determine it negligent if the judge or jury determines that a careful person would’ve put on their seatbelt in similar circumstances.
Just because you didn’t wear a seatbelt doesn’t mean you won’t win your case. Your attorney could argue that you had legitimate reasons for not wearing a seatbelt. For example, you could have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a seatbelt, as we discussed earlier.
How Much Will My Compensation Get Reduced in Car Accidents Without a Seatbelt?
If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt and the courts determined you were 10% at fault for your injuries, your compensation would get reduced by that percentage. For example, a car accident claim awarding you $100,000 will be $90,000.
The at-fault percentage is determined based on your case. Depending upon your injuries and the circumstances of your car accident, the court might decide you were more at fault.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney for Not Wearing a Seatbelt in an Accident?
The laws surrounding car accident claims are complicated. They become even more convoluted if one of the drivers and/or passengers isn’t wearing a seatbelt. You need to partner with an experienced attorney who can argue on your behalf, ensuring you receive the highest compensation possible.
Schedule Multiple Consultations
Most auto accident attorneys don’t charge for an initial consultation. You should schedule consultations with a few different lawyers to find one you’re comfortable with. You want to find a legal team with your best interests in mind.
Discuss Their Fees
Many car accident lawyers don’t require you to pay until they win your case. There are some attorneys out there that might require an upfront fee. Find a reputable lawyer who doesn’t require payment to start your case.
Ask Them About Their Experience
You want to find a lawyer that’s successfully settled cases like yours in the past. Ask them how many claims they have worked on where the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Additionally, you want them well versed in the state and local laws surrounding your case.
Bring All Necessary Documents to Your Consultation
Provide your attorney with all the information you have about your case. Some documents you should bring include:
- Your auto insurance policy
- Medical records
- Police report
- Medical bills
- Health insurance policy
- Pictures of the wreck (if you have them)
- Contact information of the other party
Your attorney will use this information to build your case as quickly as possible.
Settlements don’t happen overnight. It could take months, sometimes years, to settle with the other party. Your lawyer should constantly contact you throughout the legal process, providing you with updates.
Partner With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Florida
Not wearing a seatbelt can complicate your car accident claim. So, you need a qualified car accident attorney to create a strong argument on your behalf.
If you’ve been in a car accident and sustained injuries, our team at RHINO Lawyers is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.