What Should I Do If I Wasn’t Wearing My Seatbelt In My Car Accident?
Seatbelts are designed to keep drivers and passengers safe, and wearing them is a crucial way to avoid serious injuries in the event of a car crash. Unfortunately, people sometimes fail to wear these safety devices and subsequently get injured in a car accident. Though it may not be enough to completely undermine your claim, failing to wear your seatbelt in a car accident may be used by the other driver and their attorney to lower the total compensation you are owed. In the worst cases, failing to wear your seatbelt may result in a total loss of compensation. To help you get the most out of your injury claim and avoid problems associated with not wearing your seatbelt, the best choice is to get the services of a skilled Dallas car accident attorney.
Not wearing your seatbelt may put you at risk for more serious injuries than you might otherwise sustain. However, no injury is too devastating for the attorneys at Pintas & Mullins, a Dallas car accident law firm, . Some of our previous clients have suffered life-altering injuries such as:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
- Loss of limb
- Severe burns
- Nerve damage
Regardless of the extent of your injury and concerns over not wearing your seatbelt, get in touch with us today to learn more about your ability to pursue compensation.
My Lack of a Seatbelt Can Be Used Against Me
Prior to 2015, an injured person’s use of a seatbelt could not be admitted as evidence against their personal injury claim. In February of that year, the situation changed dramatically. The Texas Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling on the case Nabors Well Services, Ltd. and Garcia vs. Romero et. al. The ruling overturned decades of legal precedence and allowed for what is known as the “seatbelt defense.”
The Seatbelt Defense
In short, the seatbelt defense is a way for the opposing driver to get out of paying compensation to an injured person in a car accident. If the injured person was not wearing their seatbelt, this fact can be used as evidence of their negligence, either eliminating or reducing their claim to compensation. To understand how compensation can be reduced, it is necessary to understand Texas as a modified comparative negligence state.
Compensation and Fault in Texas
It is universally recognized that fault or responsibility for an accident and subsequent injuries may be spread among the people involved in that accident. Some states use a system of law called contributory negligence, which means that you cannot pursue compensation from the opposing party if you have even 1% of the fault. Fortunately, that is not the case in Texas.
As a modified comparative negligence state, Texas uses a system of proportionate responsibility to assign percentages of blame to each person involved in a car crash. As long as you are no more than 50% responsible for the injuries you receive, you can pursue compensation from the other driver. However, any percentage of blame attributed to you is used to reduce your compensation by the same percentage.
For example, let’s say you suffer $100,000 in damages as a result of a car accident in which you were not wearing your seatbelt. The other driver was texting while driving, speeding, and ran through a red light before striking your car. When deciding who to blame for the accident and your injuries, the court takes all of this into account and declares that you are 25% responsible. This means your total compensation will be reduced by 25% as well, leaving you with $75,000 to recover from the opposing driver. By working hard to provide more evidence of the other party’s fault, a skilled Dallas car accident lawyer can evaluate the amount of compensation you ultimately receive.
I Should Gather Available Evidence for My Claim
Other than contacting an attorney and getting the medical care you may need after an accident in which you were not wearing a seatbelt, it is crucial for you to gather as much information and evidence as possible. The scene of a car accident gradually loses evidence over time, such as debris, imprints, tire marks, and similar items. Additionally, eyewitness’ memory fades, so it is important to obtain their contact information and get their testimony on record as soon as possible. Other pieces of possible evidence you may want to have your attorney gather include the following.
- Photos of the scene
- Medical records
- Footage of the crash from surveillance or traffic cameras
- Cell phone records of the at-fault driver
Get a FREE Consultation with Pintas & Mullins, a Dallas car accident law firm,
Not wearing a seatbelt can be a major detriment to your claim, and it is highly recommended that you seek the services of knowledgeable car accident attorneys to protect your rights to compensation. Pintas & Mullins, a Dallas car accident law firm, offers our clients a FREE consultation to learn more about how we can help, and our attorneys collect no fee unless we win your case.
Call us today at (214) 305-8277 or fill out the form on our contact page to start working with experienced attorneys.