Do you buckle up? Every time? Recent studies show that seatbelt use has a significant impact on injury potential from automobile accidents. Also, not wearing your seatbelt can affect a car accident injury claim.
If you are not wearing your seatbelt, and are hurt in an accident, some fault may be placed on you that can reduce your compensation in a personal injury case.
This article covers how not wearing a seatbelt can impact a personal injury case in Texas.
Seatbelts Reduce Injury
NHTSA reports that seatbelt use in 2021 was at an all-time high of 94 percent and correspondently, the percentage of fatalities from car accidents has declined.
Much of the increased use of seatbelts is attributed to individual State laws which require seatbelt use (such as Texas), and also the success of the “click it or ticket” advertising campaign. In Texas, it does not matter your location in the car, front or back seats, everyone is required to wear a seatbelt. Fines can be up to $200. Plus court costs.
Because it is widely known that wearing a seatbelt reduces the chances of injury, Texas allows the non-use of a belt to be considered in a car accident injury lawsuit. Prior to the Nabors Well Services case, juries were not allowed to learn of someone who was not wearing a seatbelt in a personal injury case in Texas.
How Failing to Wear a Seatbelt Can Hurt Your Case?
Texas is a comparative fault state. Meaning everyone’s conduct in an accident is examined. If you are found partly at fault, your damages can be reduced (and even eliminated if your fault exceeds 50%).
In a Texas auto accident lawsuit, the nonuse of a seatbelt is an issue. The judge or jury may attribute fault for the injury to the victim who did nothing wrong in the car wreck but just was not wearing his or her seatbelt.
Where this comes into play is that the defense will argue not being belted caused you to be injured or enhanced your injury.
Negligence in Texas
The negligence law in Texas apportions fault for either the accident or causing the actual injury.
If the judge or jury attributes some percentage of the injury to not wearing a seatbelt, that finding will reduce the money awarded to the victim.
If over 50 percent of the injury is attributed to not wearing a seatbelt, the victim will not recover money from the car accident lawsuit in Texas, even when the person was not a fault for causing the car accident.
In Texas, it is against the law not to buckle up, and studies show seatbelts reduce injury potential and the risk of death in automobile accidents.
Not only can a seat belt reduce the risk of injury, but failure to wear a belt can hurt a personal injury case.
Use of BioMechaincal Experts
Frequently, a defense lawyer will hire a biomechanical expert to testify about injury causation. These “experts” are called upon to reenact an accident, calculate the forces involved and give options on injury causation.
If the defense attorney hires the expert, you can bet they will testify that not wearing a seatbelt is the reason the person got hurt.
Fortunately, judges often strike or disallow testimony from a biomechanical expert, if the opinions do not look credible or conflict with treating physicians’ testimony.
Event Data Recorders and Seatbelt Use
The nonuse of a seatbelt can be proven in many different ways. One way is the “black box” also called the event data recorder which is a part of all current model vehicles. The recorder will show who was belted prior to impact.
If You Have Questions About a Car Crash Injury Claim- Call Us
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