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Not Wearing A Seat Belt Can Harm Your Personal Injury Case

There is very little to debate when it comes to safety belts and their ability to save lives. A recent survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that safety belts, or “seat belts, “ save 13,000 lives in the United States each year. The survey also estimated that 7,000 fatalities would have survived the crash if they were wearing their safety belt. There are instances when a safety belt can actually cause an injury, but most experts agree that wearing them will increase your chance of surviving a collision. Moreover, in Florida, as in many states, the law requires their use and failure to do so can result in a citation. From an economic standpoint, safety belt usage saves society an estimated $50 million annually.

How does it affect a personal injury claim? For many years, Florida has allowed the person who caused the accident to introduce evidence of the injured person’s failure to wear a seat belt. As such, the jury is allowed to determine what percentage of fault the nonuser should be assessed for failing to protect themselves, even though they did not cause the accident. Any compensation awarded to the injured party is reduced by the percentage attributable to the nonuse of the safety belt. There are no guidelines or standards, thus any reduction is both arbitrary and speculative. Thus, the failure to use a seat belt make the outcome uncertain, and success debatable.

Auto collisions are unpredictable. Even the best driver cannot foresee what the other driver will do. We can, however, be proactive and accomplish two things. First, we can maximize are chances of surviving the crash, Second, we can increase our chances of obtaining a fair result if we are injured due to someone else’s carelessness. All we have to do is “buckle up.”

Not Wearing A Seat Belt Can Harm Your Personal Injury Case

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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