Can I Still Make an Accident Claim if I Wasn’t Wearing My Seat Belt?
Seat belts are an important safety measure, and should be worn at all times when driving or riding in a vehicle. According to the NHTSA, in 2017, 47% of the 37, 133 people killed in automotive accidents were not wearing a seat belt. Not only does it protect you, but it’s the law in nearly every state, Florida included.
Florida Laws Regarding Seat Belt Usage
Florida statute 316.614 applies to the usage of seat belts on Florida roadways. What the law says:
- Seat belts are required for all drivers and front seat passengers, regardless of age
- Children under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt even if they are in the back seat
There are exceptions to the rule, such as medical conditions that would make seat belt usage dangerous.
How Seat Belt Usage Affects Insurance Claims
The fact that you were not wearing a seat belt does not negate your ability to file a claim if you are involved in a car accident. Since Florida operates under a standard of pure comparative negligence, fault is assigned in percentages to each party based on the role they played in the accident.
If it is determined that your failure to wear a seat belt made your injuries 30% worse, then you would simply be assigned 30% of the fault for any injuries you sustained. This means that you can still make a claim for the remaining 70%.
A Seat Belt Would Not Have Stopped the Accident
Whether or not you were wearing your seat belt, you wouldn’t have sustained any injuries if you had not been in a crash. While the use of a seat belt could affect how severe your injuries turned out to be, it would not have kept you from being in a car accident.
This is where the pure comparative negligence standard is extremely beneficial.
Since the use of a seat belt is only one of many safe driving practices, your percentage of fault is only increased by the degree to which wearing a seat belt would have lessened your injuries. This is heavily dependent on the other factors of the crash, like traveling speed and the type of collision (t-bone, rear end, etc.)
However, this does not mean that seat belts are not important or that they should not be worn. Seat belts are an extremely important and often lifesaving safety feature. In fact, the FLHSMV reports that wearing a seat belt reduces your risk of injury or death in a car accident by nearly 50%.
Wearing one is always the best and safest option. However, we’re all human and mistakes happen. Sometimes people simply forget to fasten their seat belt, or make the mistake of not using it for a number of reasons. This just means that even if you mess up and don’t wear your seat belt, you are still entitled to fair compensation for your car accident.
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