Vehicle accidents often result in severe injuries for those involved. This is particularly true for those not wearing a seat belt at the time a collision occurs. However, what happens if you are not wearing a seat belt when another driver causes a vehicle accident? Can the failure to wear a seat belt affect any personal injury claim you have against the other driver?
Here, we want to discuss whether or not the failure to wear a seat belt can affect your insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver.
Seat Belts Save Lives
Data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that the seat belt usage for Americans across this country was at 90.3% during the latest year of data on file. The agency says that seat belt use in passenger vehicles saves around 15,000 lives each year across this country. The NHTSA says that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injuries by 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injuries by 50% or more.
In the state of Illinois, all drivers and passengers are required to wear seatbelts when they are in a moving vehicle. There are some exceptions to this law, such as rural mail carriers and those with certain medical conditions, but nearly every person in this state must adhere to seat belt rules. Individuals can be fined if they are pulled over and found not to be wearing a restraint.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt – What Happens With Your Personal Injury Claim
If you were not wearing a seat belt and were involved in a vehicle accident caused by another driver, you can be sure that this will become an area of contention when it comes to your personal injury claim. The insurance carriers or attorneys for the other side will do anything they can to limit how much money they pay out in a settlement to you. Part of this will be working to uncover any evidence that can prove that you did not take the steps necessary to mitigate your injuries.
In some areas around the country, the failure to wear a seat belt can be used against an individual looking to recover compensation through a settlement. The argument here is that, by failing to wear a seat belt, an individual is not taking the preventative steps necessary to keep themselves from sustaining an injury in the event a collision occurs. However, even though seat belts must be worn by law in Illinois, seat belt evidence cannot be used against an individual in their car accident case in this state.
We want to be very clear about this – even though the defendant in a personal injury claim will most certainly try to use your lack of wearing a seat belt against you, this should have no bearing on whether or not you recover compensation from the at-fault party.
If you sustain an injury in a vehicle accident caused by another driver but were not wearing a seat belt when the collision occurred, you should speak to a skilled car accident injury attorney in Chicago who can help you handle every aspect of your claim.