Seat belts save thousands of lives each year and prevent serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents. Because studies have shown that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatality and injury in a car accident, only one state has failed to enact a primary or secondary seat belt law for adults (New Hampshire). California does have a mandatory seat belt law for drivers and passengers. If you are injured in a car accident and you are not wearing your seat belt, your ability to get paid for your injuries may be negatively affected.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt Can Reduce Payment in a Car Accident Lawsuit
There is no doubt that you should be wearing a seat belt if you are driving a vehicle or riding as a passenger in a vehicle; however, it seems unfair that not wearing your seat belt would prevent you from receiving payment for your injuries if another person caused the car accident. Unfortunately, not wearing your seat belt can reduce or prevent you from receiving compensation under California’s comparative negligence law.
Under California’s comparative negligence law, if the jury finds that you are partially at fault for your injuries, the jury can reduce your compensation by the percentage of fault they assign to you. In other words, you will not receive 100% of the compensation you should receive for your injuries.
Amount You Receive Depends On Your Contributions To Your Injuries
For example, if you are injured in a car accident caused by a speeding driver but you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident, the jury may find that you contributed to the severity of your injuries by 20 percent. If the jury awards you $100,000 for your injuries, you will only receive $80,000 ($100,000 less 20 percent). Therefore, you will receive payment for your injuries from the car accident but the jury will not award you the full amount because they hold you partially responsible for your injuries.
In a comparative negligence car accident case, it is essential that you have an experienced Fresno car accident attorney representing you. An experienced attorney understands California’s comparative negligence laws and how to argue against reducing your compensation under those laws. This is extremely important in cases where liability could be challenged by the other party.
Have You Been Injured in a Fresno Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Fresno, CA or in the surrounding Central California Valley area, we want to help you. We understand that you may be experiencing great physical pain and emotional stress after the accident. Our Fresno car accident attorneys can take the stress of dealing with insurance companies, adjusters, and their attorneys off your shoulders so you can focus on what is important — your health and your recovery.
Contact the personal injury attorneys of Torem & Associates at 1-800-954-4444 for a free legal consultation. You can chat with a representative online or use our convenient online contact form to contact our office for more information about receiving payment in a car accident.