Every year in the United States, car accidents cause countless injuries and billions of dollars in damage. Seat belts are known to protect drivers and passengers alike from the painful injuries that can occur in the event of a collision. Unfortunately, seat belts have also become a matter of controversy. Insurance companies and defense attorneys may attempt to reduce their liability by arguing that injured drivers contributed to their own injuries and damage by not wearing a seat belt. Read on to understand more about the seat belt defense strategy.
What is the Seat Belt Defense?
In any personal injury claim, the court looks at the degree to which each party contributed to the accident. For example, if you are hit by a driver making an illegal left turn at a light, you might assume that the other driver is fully at fault. But if the accident occurred while you were running a red light, the court may find that you contributed to the accident and reduce the amount of your settlement. If you are injured in an accident while not wearing your seat belt, the same thing can happen. Insurance companies look for ways to reduce their liability when paying claims. This is a controversial topic and not an allowable defense in some states. In Idaho, however, the courts allow evidence that failure to wear a seat belt was a contributing cause of your particular injury or damage.
How Not Wearing a Seat Belt Can Harm You
The statistics unquestionably prove that wearing your seat belt can save your life. Wearing your seat belt will allow you to walk away intact from an accident that might otherwise cause great harm. Today, however, buckling up can also ensure that you are able to collect damages if you are injured in an accident in which another driver was at fault. Your injuries can be substantially worse if you aren’t buckled up, and if that can be proven in court, you may only be awarded damage for the injuries that would have occurred if you’d been wearing your lap and shoulder belts, as required by law. The defense will assert that you could have mitigated the harm you incurred if you’d simply buckled up, and the court may be inclined to agree.
Overcoming the Seat Belt Defense
If you’ve been injured in an accident and the issue of seat belts has become a factor, your attorney can argue on your behalf. He or she can explore the possibility that your car’s equipment failed or that your physical characteristics (height or weight) made the belts less effective. It can be difficult to determine which injuries may not have occurred if seat belts had been in use. In some older cars, shoulder belts aren’t even present. In some cases, injuries were actually exacerbated by wearing only a lap belt.
The personal injury attorneys of Montgomery Law understand how important your vehicle’s safety features are for mitigating injury and even death in the event of a collision. Nevertheless, they also understand that loopholes in the law can be exploited by insurance companies and others attempting to reduce their own monetary damages. Contact Montgomery Dowdle today to discuss your case and questions related to car accidents and seat belts.