DOES CALIFORNIA’S SEAT BELT DEFENSE HURT MY CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2017 at 3:12 am
The answer to this question is “it depends.” Ever car accident claim is different; therefore, it is unclear whether one defense or another defense could have a significant impact on your claim. However, California does allow defendants to use the seat belt defense and, if a defendant is successful, it could have a huge impact on the amount of money you receive for your claim.
If you were injured in a car accident and you were not wearing your seat belt, you need an experienced Sacramento car accident attorney now. Call our office at (916) 999-9000 to speak with an experienced attorney to find out how you can fight back against the seat belt defense.
What is a Seat Belt Defense?
Also known as a safety belt defense, this type of defense relies on a comparative negligence argument. First, not wearing a safety belt does not bar you from filing a lawsuit or recovering damages in a car accident. If California operated under contributory negligence, the fact you did not act reasonably by wearing a safety restraint could bar you from recovering damages. Thankfully, California is a comparative negligence state, but that does not mean you are out of the woods yet.
First, the defense will raise the issue that you were not wearing your safety belt as required by law at the time of the crash. The attorney will argue that had you been wearing your belt in accordance with California law, you either would not have been injured as severely as you were or you would not have been injured at all. Therefore, you are partially to blame for your injury and the defendant should not pay for your lack of due care.
If the attorney is successful in his argument, the jury could find that you should be held responsible for a portion of the fault. Under comparative negligence laws, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage the jury assigns to you as fault for not wearing a safety belt. For instance, if the jury decides you should bear 30 percent of the fault for your injuries, your compensation is reduced by 30 percent. In a case where the total damages equal $100,000, you would only receive $70,000 for your injuries.
California Seat Belt Laws
California has mandatory seat belt laws for all occupants in the vehicle. Drivers and passengers are to wear safety restraints when riding in a motor vehicle. Children should be restrained in a car seat or booster seat according to California’s child safety restraint laws. A safety belt should secure all other passengers and the driver. Failing to obey seat belt laws can result in fines and other penalties.
Call a Sacramento Car Accident Attorney for Help
If you have been injured in a traffic accident, our attorneys can help. We offer free consultations and no-obligation case evaluations, and we accept most cases on a contingency fee basis. You don’t pay our attorney fees until we recover money for your claim.