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How can the “seatbelt defense” hurt your personal injury claim?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2022 | Car Accidents

In the state of Florida, 40% of motor vehicle accidents cause personal injuries. That results in more than 100,000 injuries from car accidents every year. If you are injured due to another person’s neglect, you may find yourself thinking about pursuing a personal injury claim. However, if you choose not to buckle up, the seat belt defense may harm your claim.

Understand the definition of the seat belt defense

If you decide not to wear a seat belt and become injured in your motor vehicle accident, the defendant can claim that you contributed to your injuries by refusing to follow the law. The state of Florida allows this argument, which is known as “the seat belt defense.”

Courts may decide in favor of comparative negligence

Florida operates under a comparative fault basis. This means that any personal injury lawsuit from car accidents makes the jury determine the percentage of blame for each party involved in the accident. The defense and its insurance company will argue that your percentage of blame should be much higher because you chose to not wear your seat belt. If the defense can demonstrate that you chose not to do everything in your power to reduce your injuries, your failure to mitigate damage may reduce your settlement.

Injuries tend to be more severe when you do not wear a seat belt

Juries may reduce your claim if you choose not to wear a seat belt because lack of a seat belt results in more severe injuries overall. People who choose not to wear a seat belt face a greater risk of these serious conditions:

  • Paralysis
  • Amputations
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Every seat belt case resolves differently

Simply not wearing a seat belt does not mean you no longer have a personal injury case. Every circumstance requires careful scrutiny to determine exactly what type of legal rebuttal may be used against the seat belt defense.