The seat belt can save your life. You have heard this a million times, but it is the truth, no matter how much people refuse to wear them. In a car accident, it will keep you in place and prevent you from harsh injuries or even ejecting from the vehicle.
You should always wear a belt, even if you travel for a short distance. The accident can happen to anyone and anyplace.
Besides that, if you end up in an accident with minor injuries (or non-life-threatening injuries) not wearing a seat belt may affect your claim.
The insurance company will use this fact to offer a low settlement.
New York ‘Seat Belt Defense’
Wearing a seat belt in New York is mandatory. Drivers, passengers, and children younger than sixteen must wear safety belts, no matter where they sit in the vehicle. If an officer pulls you over and you don’t wear it, you will have a ticket simply for that. If you fail to wear the safety belt, you may face a low settlement.
If you were involved in a car crash where you didn’t have your seat belt on, you can raise the “seat belt defense”. If you’re the defendant, you can argue that the plaintiff who didn’t wear the seat belt contributed to the injuries that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.
Let’s see it through an example. Let’s say David is rear-ended by another vehicle that’s operated by Nick. David is thrown forward and he hits his head into the steering wheel. He doesn’t wear a safety belt, otherwise, this wouldn’t have happened.
In New York, Nick may not be liable for David’s injuries; Nick can use the seat belt defense. Nick will still be at fault for the accident (property damage and to others who wore seat belts).
The Seat Belt Defense
Let’s explain how the seat belt defense works. If the person wasn’t wearing a seat belt, this defense could complicate their chance for a good settlement. The liable driver can use this defense to defend themselves. This would affect the victim’s position. The insurance company will take this fact in mind and will calculate a lower settlement.
However, the liable driver will have to show that the victim didn’t wear a seatbelt. This can be done through testimony and analysis.
It would be necessary to have a medical testimony, engineering expertise, and a car accident reconstruction. All of these can be used to show that the victim got the injuries because they didn’t wear a belt.
This can be a complex job, but would significantly reduce the penalties for the defendant, while the plaintiff will face some serious challenges.
If you didn’t wear a seat belt, it could be a challenge to fight the seat belt defense. Your attorney can examine the defendant’s case and seek flaws in their analysis. Your goal as a victim is to show that even if you wore a safety belt, you’d still end up getting your injuries.
What To Do If The Safety Belt Defense Is Successful?
If you weren’t wearing a belt when the accident happened, and the liable driver successfully used the seat belt defense, then your damages may be reduced. Keep in mind that the defendant is not free of charges just because they prove that you contributed to your injuries just because you didn’t wear a safety belt. This will only reduce their liability for your injuries
Victims who didn’t wear seat belts usually seek a compensation claim. Maybe the insurance company will offer you a lower settlement, but you can always seek property and other personal injuries settlement.
Does this sound confusing and complex? Feel free to consult with a car accident attorney. They would advise you what to do in this case. Your attorney won’t give up until you get a suitable claim for your damages and other accident-related expenses (even if the injury claim is low).
Your lawyer understands how to create a strong case so you can seek the compensation you deserve. Once you got the proper medical help and you recovered a bit, it’s time to consult with your attorney.
We’re a team of skilled attorneys and will gladly answer your questions. Seek our legal help and we’ll review your case entirely free of charge.
Content checked by the personal injury attorney Ross Cellino. As a family man and a trial attorney, I pride myself on winning cases and serving the community. With over 35 years of experience, I understand the function of a jury, how juries arrive at conclusions, and the role that the jury plays in administering justice. I know how to win cases. You can find us in Manhattan, Buffalo, Melville, Rochester, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and other locations throughout New York.
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