Can I Still Get Compensation If I Didn’t Wear a Seatbelt?
Seat belts are an absolute must while driving, both in the eyes of the law and to ensure your own safety. If you ended up in a car crash after failing to buckle up, it’s natural to be concerned about whether or not you can get a settlement to cover your damages. The good news is yes, you can still pursue a personal injury case and receive compensation, even if you didn’t wear your seat belt. Arizona law protects everyone, even those who have broken it in some way.
How Does Breaking the Law Affect My Case?
Arizona’s seat belt laws have various consequences for a traffic case (which are significantly harsher if a minor or individual under 5 doesn’t wear a seat belt in your vehicle). However, those constitute separate crimes, and as such, we’ll assume you were the only person in the vehicle who failed to wear your seat belt.
Fortunately, your outlook is good. Aside from your traffic citation, you’ll still have the right to pursue fair compensation for your injuries and damages. However, you’ll likely struggle to receive as large a settlement as normal, and in Arizona, the other side will likely use the Seat Belt Defense against you to minimize your claim.
Although you’ll be eligible for general compensation, you won’t be able to make any claims for injuries that were your fault directly. If you sustained a head wound because you collided with the windshield, for example, that will be considered your sole fault under the Seat Belt Defense. However, even with a seat belt, injuries are inevitable, and it can be difficult to clearly attribute certain injuries to either the crash or your lack of seat belt. In most cases, courts use a comparative fault system, in which they’ll take several considerations into account.
- Was it reasonable to wear a seat belt at the time of the crash? If someone hit you in a parking lot before you started moving, it’s possible you could be considered fault-free.
- If your injuries weren’t directly caused by your lack of seat belt, were they enhanced by it? If the evidence can prove that you were likely more severely hurt due to your decision, more fault will be placed on you.
- Were you of age, and of a reasonable mental state, to exercise discretion and wear your seat belt? Crashes involving minors at the wheel, or those with certain mental disorders, are likely to be given different considerations if they couldn’t be expected to practice caution.
Eventually, your damages will be reduced in direct proportion to how heavily you’re at fault. For example, if failing to wear a seat belt caused a quarter of your injuries, you’ll receive 25 percent less compensation.
Get Help From an Auto Accident Attorney
Trying to figure out the details of your case is complex enough as it is, and with a traffic citation complicating things, securing a fair settlement becomes harder than ever. If you’ve been in an accident in Arizona and weren’t wearing your seat belt, seeking counsel and representation from an experienced attorney is essential. We at Escamilla Law Group can help, so please, call us today at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation.