How Wearing a Seat Belt Affects Your Accident Lawsuit in California

 
We’ve all heard the ads, and some of us may dislike buckling up, but the reality is seat belts save lives and prevent serious injury. However, they have not always been used, and prior to Jan. 1, 1968, seat belts were not even included in automobiles or trucks.
 
With the enactment of Title 49 of the United States Code, it became mandatory for seat belts to be installed in all vehicles except buses. Over time, seat belts have evolved and have become more effective protecting drivers and passengers.

When Did It Become Mandatory to Use Seat Belts

In the 1980s, states began to make the use of seat belts mandatory with New York being the first in 1984. California enacted a seat belt law in 1986 and amended it several times since then. In short, everyone over the age of six needs to wear a seat belt. Today, 96 percent of all Californians use seat belt restraints.

Buckling up is the smart thing to do.

How Do Seat Belts Affect a Car or Truck Accident Lawsuit?

California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that when someone is injured in an accident, the amount of damages he or she can recover is reduced by the degree to which they are themselves negligent.

For instance, if a vehicle runs a red light at an intersection, hitting another vehicle that had the right of way, the motorist who did that would be considered negligent. However, to claim negligence, the other driver, in this case the plaintiff, has to be injured. Let’s say in this situation the plaintiff is thrown from his or her vehicle causing severe injuries. If the plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt when the accident happened, as a prudent driver would, the plaintiff might sustain some responsibility for being thrown from the vehicle.

Under comparative negligence, the plaintiff shares some degree of negligence with the defendant. If the court decides the amount of shared negligence is 25 percent, then the plaintiff would recover 25 percent less in damages.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

A personal injury attorney dealing with insurance adjusters and defense lawyers can argue that the injury a plaintiff suffers would have happened with or without a seat belt. Using expert witnesses, the plaintiff’s attorney can make a case against reducing the extent of shared damage by the plaintiff.

Car Accident Attorney David Azizi Can Answer Your Questions

If you’ve been injured in an accident, turning to an experienced lawyer is essential. David has practiced in California for 20 years. Call him at 800-991-5292 to set up a free case consultation. We are here 24/7 to answer your call. David recognizes the financial toll an accident takes, and there is never a fee unless you win.