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Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Auto Accidents > Can Failing To Wear A Seat Belt Affect My Personal Injury Case?

Can Failing To Wear A Seat Belt Affect My Personal Injury Case?


Seat belts have been proven to save lives when used correctly by drivers and passengers in a moving vehicle. Despite the statistics, there are many people who do not regularly buckle up when driving or riding in a car. Most states in the U.S. have traffic laws that require drivers and passengers to use seat belts, and failure to wear seat belts can result in the issuance of traffic tickets. If a passenger or driver is involved in a car accident, and suffers injuries because he or she was not wearing a seat belt, the failure to wear the seat belt can also affect a subsequent personal injury lawsuit depending on which state the accident takes place.

The failure to wear a seat belt can affect a personal injury case if it is considered a contributing factor in the plaintiff’s injuries. In Florida, which is a comparative negligence state, this means that the failure to wear a seat belt, especially when there is a legal requirement to do so, can be taken into consideration when making a determination of each party’s liability, and when awarding damages against the defendant. The lack of a seat belt can therefore reduce the amount of damages a plaintiff may have been awarded by the jury. Florida law only requires the front passengers to use a seat belt, but this does not mean that a backseat passenger will not be penalized by a jury for failing to use the seat belt regardless of what the law requires.

The defense in a Florida car accident lawsuit will usually use experts and medical evidence to show what impact the lack of the seat belt had on the plaintiff’s injuries.  The plaintiff may in turn use experts to try and minimize the effect of the failure to use the seat belt on his injuries.  If the plaintiff’s injuries would have been caused to the same degree, whether or not the seat belt was used, it is less likely that the plaintiff’s failure to use it will affect the amount of damages awarded.

However, the law in some states, including Georgia, does not allow defendants to use the seat belt defense. This means that a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt is not allowed as evidence of negligence on the plaintiff’s part, and cannot be considered to reduce damages. This means that even though the plaintiff was not wearing his seat belt, he may still receive the full amount a jury would award because the jury would never hear of the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt.

Contact An Experienced Auto Accident Attorney

Seat belts save lives and drivers and passengers should always make sure they use them when driving or riding in cars. However, if you were involved in a car accident and sustained serious injuries, do not assume you cannot recover any compensation because you were not buckled in your seat. Contact the experienced Jacksonville, Florida and Brunswick, Georgia personal injury attorney at Gillette Law, P.A. for a consultation on your options.




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