In some states, there exists what is known as the “seatbelt defense,” which may limit the amount of compensation a victim receives if he or she was not wearing a seatbelt at the time the car accident occurred. Even if the accident was completely the fault of the other driver, the seatbelt defense holds plaintiffs somewhat responsible for the injuries resulting from the crash.
This type of defense is extremely controversial, as many legal professionals believe it is unfair to those who suffer significant injuries in car wrecks. Proponents of the defense, however, say the law requires people to wear seatbelts, as they are critical lifesaving devices, and that there should therefore be some sort of consequence people who did not abide by that law and suffer injuries as a result.
This means there are some cases in which the driver causing the accident would almost certainly be held fully liable, but the victim still takes a financial hit. For example, rear-end collisions are nearly always the fault of the driver who runs into the back end of the second vehicle. However, if the driver of the second vehicle wasn’t wearing a seat belt and suffered injuries in the accident, that person’s compensation could be drastically reduced if the seatbelt defense is successfully applied.
The seatbelt defense is not an issue in many states, which mandate the use of seatbelts but make use of comparative or contributory negligence. But if you live in or travel to one of the 16 states where this defense does apply, remember that wearing your seatbelt could protect your pocketbook nearly as much as your life.
If you would like to learn more about negligence issues in car accident injury claims, contact the knowledgeable San Diego attorneys at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire.