Florida Seatbelt Law and the Seatbelt Defense

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There are some factors that can complicate your personal injury case. One thing that could make your claim more difficult is if the insurance company learns that you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

Seatbelt use in any vehicle is vital because it protects and restrains you in the event of a car accident. However, not wearing a seatbelt is not a bar to financial compensation. If you have been hurt in a car accident without a seatbelt, call Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers to speak to an auto accident lawyer in Pensacola.

Seatbelts Reduce the Risk of Serious Injury or Fatality

While statistics show that seatbelts save lives, not every motorist or passenger heeds the law.

Thankfully, an overwhelming proportion of occupants do.

Nationally, seatbelt use is estimated at just around 90%. Local laws and awareness campaigns have made a difference in raising the usage rate. Those who were not wearing seatbelts comprised a disproportionate amount of traffic accident fatalities. Roughly half of the people who died in traffic accidents were not wearing seatbelts. Estimates are that seatbelts would have saved over 2,500 lives.

Florida Seatbelt Laws

Florida has strict laws about seatbelts. Anyone who is sitting in the front seat of the vehicle must wear a seatbelt, regardless of their age. It is not mandatory to use a seatbelt if you are sitting in the back seat of the car if you are under the age of 18. Still, it is a good idea to wear a seatbelt regardless of where you are sitting. Backseat passengers could be thrown forward into the front seat, causing them serious injuries.

Based on the law passed in 2009, the failure to wear a seatbelt is a primary offense. Police can pull drivers over for the sole reason that someone in the car is violating the seatbelt law. There is a fine of $30 when an adult is violating the seatbelt law, and $60 when a child fails to comply.

The fine is assessed against the driver of the vehicle. In addition, the driver could be assessed up to three points on their license. When the car insurance company learns of the ticket, they may raise your premiums.

How Seatbelts Keep You Safe in an Accident

The main purpose of the seatbelt is to restrain you in the event of an accident. When you are involved in a car accident, the force of the crash is being transferred to you. The role of the seatbelt is to keep you in place. Otherwise, your body will pitch forward. Then, you could be ejected from the vehicle entirely, which raises the risk of serious injury or a fatality.

Alternatively, your body could lurch forward at the same time that the airbag is forcefully deploying. Airbags, for as helpful as they are, already have the potential to cause you serious injury. When you are moving into the airbag, the injuries can be far worse. The fact that your car has an airbag is not a reason to not wear a seatbelt.

How Seatbelt Use Affects Your Personal Injury Case

Seatbelt non-use will also affect your personal injury case. The officer who comes to the scene of the accident may learn that you were not wearing a seatbelt. They always make this assumption when you were ejected from the car in a crash. Medical examinations could also reveal the lack of seatbelt use based on the impact and cuts on your body.

The lack of a seatbelt is often used in allocating the proportion of fault for your injuries. In any personal injury case, you must prove that the defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of your injuries. Generally, the insurance would argue that you would have been hurt if you were wearing a seatbelt. If your injuries were made worse by the failure to wear a seatbelt, some of the fault could be allocated to you.

Florida’s New Personal Injury Laws Could Complicate Your Legal Picture

Under Florida’s new personal injury law, you would be barred from receiving any type of compensation if you were more than 50% to blame for your accident injuries. While it may be difficult for the defendant to prove that they owe you nothing because of a failure to wear a seatbelt, the defense would certainly cost you money if proven true. Nonetheless, the insurance company may try to overstate the effect that the lack of a seatbelt had on you physically.

Your lawyer could push back and fight to make sure that the percentage of fault is correct. The reality could be you’re fighting a battle because there is a general perception that you would always have been safer by wearing a seatbelt.

If the insurance company draws any assumptions, you may need to prove that you were wearing a seatbelt. Your attorney’s job is also to defend you in a personal injury case. If the insurance company is trying to overstate the amount of fault that you bear, you could always take your case to court and let the jury decide the issue.

In the meantime, you should never assume that you cannot file a claim if you were not wearing a seatbelt. An attorney can give you their professional opinion about whether you have a strong case, notwithstanding any failure to wear a seatbelt. Chances are that you may still be able to get something to pay for your injuries.

Contact a Pensacola Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, you could qualify for substantial financial compensation. Because the stakes are high, the insurance company has every motivation to trample on your legal rights.

When you hire the attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers, you get someone who will fight back on your behalf. You can begin the legal process by sending us a message through our website, or by calling us today at 850-444-0000.

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