Can You Seek Compensation If You Weren’t Wearing a Seat Belt?
A significant quantity of motorists choose to drive without a seat belt at times, often due to lax driving rigor (such as choosing to go without a seat belt on low-speed, local roads), impairment, or explicitly reckless behavior. All instances of driving without a seat belt constitute negligent driving and will have legal penalties, but that doesn’t change the fact that, in the event of an auto accident, you’ll need compensation for your losses—all the more so when you consider that, without a seat belt, your medical bills and injuries are bound to be far more severe. Fortunately, you can still seek compensation, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash; however, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, or that there won’t be consequences for failing to buckle up.
Arizona’s Seat Belt Laws and Consequences
Under Arizona’s seat belt laws, front-seat passengers, drivers, and passengers of 16 years of age or younger must buckle up. Failure to do so is a secondary offense, meaning that you can’t be pulled over for it alone, but can be ticketed for it if it coincides with another infraction. In the event that you failed to buckle up in a crash, you’ll face some generalized consequences:
- Your injuries will likely be more severe than they would have been if you had been wearing a seat belt. This, of course, will be reflected in more comprehensive medical bills, pain, and suffering.
- As a minor traffic violation, you’ll be fined at least ten dollars per infraction. This can seem minor but starts to compound alongside other expenses in the wake of an accident.
With only two direct, explicit consequences, failing to wear a seat belt can seem minor—however, once you start to pursue compensation, you’ll quickly realize that that isn’t the case. Although you can legally still file for compensation, it’ll be harder to get a fair settlement, and there’s a strong chance it will be reduced significantly.
Arizona Accident Compensation Without a Seat Belt
Understanding pure comparative fault is vital to understanding auto accident compensation on the whole. Under such a system, your compensation will be reduced in direct proportion to any damages you’re responsible for—which, if you weren’t wearing a seat belt, could be a significant portion or all of your injuries:
- Even if another driver was at fault for the accident overall, they could use the Seat Belt Defense against you, a common, but well-backed, argument that claims that, since you weren’t wearing a seat belt and taking measures to protect yourself, it’s your fault that the crash they caused hurt you so extensively. This, of course, only qualifies in a situation where you would have been unhurt or significantly less hurt had you been wearing a seat belt.
When considering the eligibility of a seat belt defense claim, courts will look at more particulars from your accident, such as whether or not it was reasonable to wear a seat belt, whether or not you could be held responsible for making reckless decisions, and whether your injuries were truly caused by your lack of seat belt.
An experienced Arizona auto accident attorney can help you prove that you still deserve partial compensation for your injuries and full compensation for any other damages you might have sustained, so give us a call at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation. ELG can help take the burden of the claims process off of your shoulders, freeing up your time to focus on recovery.