Seatbelts are among the most important safety elements in motor vehicles. Unfortunately, it is common to see drivers, children, and other passengers riding without seat belts.
While you may be eligible to collect compensation if you get injured due to an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, not wearing a seatbelt can affect your insurance claim. This stems from the fact that most states have laws requiring vehicle occupants to wear safety belts when the car is in motion. Additionally, insurance companies know that failure to wear a seatbelt can increase the chances of severe injuries or even death.
Seatbelts Can Help Save Lives
Automakers install safety belts on vehicles for a purpose, and there is no reason not to wear them. Seatbelts work by keeping the vehicle occupant more static despite a sudden change in momentum or stop.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates of all the unbuckled 14,955 fatalities recorded in 2017, 2,549 of the deceased people could have been saved if they had buckled up. While wearing a seat belt does not eliminate the possibility of getting injured, it can significantly reduce the risk of severe injuries and death.
How Does Failure to Wear a Seat Belt Affect Your Claim?
You may be eligible to recover damages after an accident, especially if another person is to blame. However, due to legal concepts like comparative fault and mitigation, not wearing a seatbelt can significantly affect the outcome of your claim.
If you live in a comparative fault state like Texas, insurance adjusters can use your failure to wear a seatbelt as a contributory factor affecting your settlements based on your percentage of fault. Under mitigation theory, you have a legal obligation to apply reasonable effort in reducing the severity of your injury. This means that failure to buckle up can lower the value of your compensation.
Contacting a reputable personal injury law firm after an accident may help you receive maximum compensation. The right attorney will help you gather evidence to prove your case, handle settlement negotiations on your behalf, and even represent you in court.