Have you suffered a car accident recently in Florida in which you were not wearing a seat belt? The good news is if it was the other driver’s fault, you may still be eligible to file a claim for your injuries. But at the same time, your case might be complicated.
All drivers and passengers are required to wear a seat belt in Florida. 9 out of 10 motorists in Florida wear a seat belt, according to a recent survey by the Florida Department of Transportation. You may still seek compensation for your injuries even if you were not wearing a seat belt, but the process of seeking compensation, as mentioned, will be more complicated.
You may expect the insurance adjuster, representing the at-fault party, to contend that the injuries you have sustained or the severity of them are due to you not wearing a seat belt. In such cases, you should consult an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney about your legal options.
Florida Seat Belt Laws
The seat belt laws in Florida are among the primary enforcement laws. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) advises that every driver and passenger abide by state laws and wear a seat belt at all times when in a motorized vehicle. Some of those to which the law does not apply include bus passengers, farm equipment operators, newspaper employees on the way to making home deliveries, and those who are certified by a physician as having a condition that can aggravate by wearing a seat belt.
According to FLHSMV, using seatbelts saves lives in three ways in a car accident.
● It prevents drivers and passengers from being thrown out of the vehicle.
● It prevents passengers from being thrown onto each other or onto the dashboard, windshield, or steering.
● It helps the driver keep behind the steering wheel, where they can control the vehicle better.
How Your Personal Injury Claim Gets Influenced by Not Wearing a Seatbelt
Car accident claims often involve reckless behavior by drivers, such as speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s none of your fault if you suffer injuries caused by a negligent driver. But the defense attorney and the at-fault driver’s insurance company will contend that your not wearing a seat belt contributed to your injuries or the severity of them. The amount you are entitled to receive may be reduced if you are found partially responsible for your damage.
Under Florida comparative fault statutes, you will receive compensation for the percentage fault of the other party. For instance, if your final compensation amount stands to be $100,000, and you are found to be 40% responsible for the accident, you will receive 60% of the compensation, i.e., $60,000. This reduction in compensation amount can have a significant effect on the immediate monetary requirements, such as lost wages and the need for ongoing care or dealing with long-term disabilities you might suffer.
Consulting an experienced Orlando car accident attorney can help in such cases. Your attorney might choose to reconstruct the case about how it happened and use the testimony of your medical experts to rebut the at-fault party’s claims of the injuries occurring due to you not wearing a seat belt.
Injuries That Seatbelts Cannot Prevent
While seat belts can reduce the impact of the accident and prevent a number of injuries from occurring, they cannot prevent every injury. Here are the types of impacts and the likelihood of a seat belt preventing injuries.
● Frontal Impacts: These impacts often result in injuries to lower extremities, such as broken hips, legs, ankles, or head injuries caused by impact on the windshield or dashboard. Wearing a seatbelt can be moderately helpful in preventing these types of injuries.
● Back Impacts: These result in injuries to the back or spine. Wearing a seatbelt only has a minor effect in preventing these.
● Side Impacts: These result in head or pelvic injuries, which seatbelts do little to prevent.
● Rollover Accidents: These result in victims being thrown out. Seatbelts can help prevent these types of incidents to a large degree.
As you can see, wearing a seat belt can prevent a lot of injuries. However, they are ineffective in some cases. If you have been injured in a car accident in which you were not wearing a seat belt, the best chance you have to recover damages is to file a claim under the guidance of a skilled Orlando car accident attorney. We at Louis Berk are a team of experienced and skilled personal injury lawyers, and we are always ready to support you in times of your need and help you receive the best compensation that you deserve.