How Not Wearing a Seat Belt Affects an Injury Settlement
Car accidents are never planned. Drivers and passengers do not get in a vehicle and think about all of the possible hazards on the roadway. However, one of the best ways to remain safe and stay protected against unexpected roadway dangers is to wear a seat belt. That said, there are times when drivers and passengers are not wearing a seat belt at the time a collision occurs. Here, we want to discuss whether not wearing a seat belt can affect a personal injury settlement if a person is injured in a crash caused by the negligence of another driver.
Always Wear a Seat Belt
Vehicle accidents are going to occur. There is no denying that fact. According to data available from the Illinois Department of Transportation, we can see that there were more than 319,000 total vehicle collisions across the state during the latest reporting year. Unfortunately, these incidents led to more than 1,000 fatalities and more than 100,000 injuries. However, we do know that seat belts save lives. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts save approximately 15,000 lives each year in this country.
How not Wearing a Seat Belt Affects an Injury Settlement
In some areas of the country, at-fault parties in car accident cases are able to use an injury victim’s non-use of a seat belt in their defense in an effort to reduce how much they pay the claimant. In these areas, at-fault parties and their insurance carriers will argue that the injury victim was negligent by not wearing a seat belt, and they should not be entitled to recover compensation. This is commonly referred to as the “seat belt defense.” However, Illinois law does not allow a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit to use an injury victim’s lack of seat belt use as evidence that the plaintiff was negligent.
What if You Sustain a Car Accident Injury?
If you or somebody you care about sustains a car accident injury in or around the Chicago area, you may be entitled to compensation for what happened. If the careless or negligent actions of another driver caused the collision, you may be able to recover compensation through a settlement with an insurance carrier or through a personal injury lawsuit.
In general, most car accident claims are resolved through a settlement with insurance carriers. However, if the insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement amount, or if they deny a claim altogether, it may be necessary for a victim and their attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Types of Compensation Available in These Cases
There may be various types of economic and non-economic compensation available to car accident victims, regardless of whether or not they were wearing a seat belt at the time the crash occurred. If another party caused the crash, then the victim(s) may be entitled to the following:
- Complete coverage of their medical expenses
- Compensation for lost wages
- General household out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage expenses
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of quality of life damages
The total amount of compensation available in these cases will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular situation. A skilled Chicago car accident attorney can use their resources to fully investigate the claim in order to determine liability. An attorney can work with trusted medical and economic experts to properly assign a dollar value to the case and craft a demand letter to send to the insurance carriers. If necessary, a Chicago personal injury attorney will be willing to take the car accident case to trial.