Comparative Negligence, Seatbelts and Legal Funding

Seat belts are made to prevent injuries, but they can also help your case.

The importance of the seat-belt is common knowledge. In the event of an accident, it is extremely important to protect yourself and your passengers.

Your personal injury claim and qualification for legal funding can be severely affected by an unworn safety-belt.

Even if the other driver was negligent, not wearing a seat-belt at the time of the accident means that you are liable for some of your damages.

A defendant insurance company will argue that, had you been wearing a safety-belt,  the crash would have caused less injury.

This is a powerful defense because of a concept called comparative negligence. Even if the other driver was at-fault for the accident, if your negligence caused incremental damage, the defense shouldn’t be held liable for these damages.

Read the following article for some safety guidelines and laws, as well as data that will definitely encourage you to buckle up.

Proper Use

Using the seat-belt correctly can make a world of difference. Follow these simple guidelines to ensure your safety.

  • Secure your lap and shoulder belt across your pelvis and rib cage.
  • The shoulder belt should always be away from your neck and in front your chest. Never put this belt under your arm.
  • Make sure the lap belt settles across your hips and not your stomach.

Of course, the above guidelines only apply to those who are big enough to sit in the car without a booster seat. It is important to keep children in a booster seat until they fit properly into a safety-belt. What is the proper way? See below.

  • The lap belt must fit across the hips, not the stomach.
  • The shoulder belt should be situated across the chest, and away from the neck or face.

Regardless of a child’s booster or safety-belt status, they should always ride in the back seat, as it is safer in the event of a crash.

Safety-Belt Laws

Seat-belt laws vary by state. It is important to do proper research and learn the specific laws that apply to your state.

More generally, most states follow a variation of the following two enforcements.

  • Primary enforcement: Police can pull you over if they see that you are not wearing a seat-belt.
  • Secondary enforcement: Police can only offer you a citation for a seat-belt violation if you violated another traffic law first.

Seat-Belts Save Lives

Here are some statistics (taken from NHTSA) that show the importance of the seat-belt, and the benefits of buckling-up.

  • They reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and light-truck occupants by 60 percent.
  • Of the 35,092 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, 48 percent were not wearing seat-belts.
  • In 2015 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives – and could have saved an additional 2,814 people if they had been wearing their seat-belts.

Uplift Legal Funding

If you are pursuing a personal injury claim and in need of funding, Uplift can help. Learn more about car accident loans or the legal funding process in general. Apply online or give us a call at (800) 385-3660.