If I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, can I still make a claim?
Seatbelts play a critical role in ensuring the safety of vehicle occupants. However, situations arise where one might forget or choose not to buckle up. If you’ve been in an accident in Florida and weren’t wearing your seatbelt, you might wonder about your rights to compensation. Understanding the intricacies can be complex, but we’re here to guide you.
The Basics of Florida’s Seatbelt Laws
In Florida, wearing a seatbelt is mandatory for both the driver and front-seat passengers. Rear-seat passengers under the age of 18 are also required to wear seatbelts. Failure to do so can result in fines and penalties. But when it comes to accidents and personal injury claims, not wearing a seatbelt can have other implications.
The Impact of Not Wearing a Seatbelt on Claims in Florida
In the realm of personal injury law, understanding the nuances can significantly influence the outcome of your claim, especially in states like Florida. Let’s delve deeper into how Florida’s modified comparative fault system operates, particularly when a seatbelt isn’t in use at the time of an accident.
Florida’s specific approach to handling personal injury claims is through the lens of the ‘modified comparative fault’ rule. Unlike the pure comparative fault system, where an injured party can recover damages regardless of their degree of fault, Florida’s model restricts this based on a certain threshold. In simpler terms, you can claim damages as long as you’re not more at fault than the other involved party. The catch is, whatever percentage you’re found at fault will be subtracted from the total compensation you’re set to receive.
Seatbelts, designed primarily for safety, have a proven record of reducing the severity of injuries in vehicular accidents. When an injured party wasn’t wearing one during the accident, it becomes a point of contention. Let’s consider a practical scenario: Suppose you’re involved in a car accident, where another driver ran a red light and hit you. On face value, the fault seems entirely theirs. However, if you were ejected from the car and suffered severe injuries because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, the defense will likely seize this point. Their argument will revolve around the premise that, had you been wearing a seatbelt, your injuries might have been considerably less severe, or in some cases, might not have happened at all.
Building on our earlier example, if the court or the insurance adjuster determines that not wearing a seatbelt contributed to 20% of the gravity of your injuries, this will be counted as your comparative fault. Thus, if your total damages amount to $100,000, you will only receive $80,000, with the 20% ($20,000) being deducted due to your portion of the fault.
While this system might seem straightforward, each case has its unique circumstances. Factors such as the nature of the accident, the impact angle, and the specific injuries sustained can all influence how much not wearing a seatbelt might have contributed to the injuries. It’s crucial to have knowledgeable legal representation to navigate these waters, ensuring your rights are upheld, and you receive fair compensation.
if you weren’t buckled up, your compensation could be reduced by that amount.
Practical Advice for Claiming Compensation
- Seek Medical Attention: Immediately after an accident, see a doctor, even if you feel fine. Some injuries manifest later, and early medical records can be pivotal.
- Document Everything: Even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, ensure you have evidence of the accident scene, witness statements, and medical records. This helps build a strong case.
- Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer: It’s crucial to get legal advice. Experienced lawyers understand the intricacies of Florida’s modified comparative fault system and can guide you accordingly.
We Are Here to Help You!
Being in an accident is traumatic, and understanding your rights when not wearing a seatbelt adds another layer of complexity. But even if you weren’t buckled up, you might still be entitled to compensation. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and ensuring you receive what you deserve is our top priority. For clarity, professional guidance, and representation in such matters in Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact the Law Office of Shannon J. Sagan, PA. Our team is ready to assist and ensure your rights are protected. Call us today at 1-800-FLA-LAWYER (352-5299) for a consultation.
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