Can I Recover Damages if I Didn’t Wear a Seat Belt?

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Car Accident Lawyer Salt Lake City UT How UT No-Fault Insurance Works

In 1968, the federal government mandated that seat belts be installed in all new passenger automobiles. Over time, the percentage of people using seat belts has steadily increased. In 1994, it was estimated that 58 percent of those riding in cars wore their seatbelt. By 2016, that number rose to 90 percent. Even with that high percentage, nearly half of all occupants of passenger vehicles who die in crashes had not worn their seat belt. At Rasmussen & Miner, our car accident lawyer in Salt Lake City UT is often asked about liability concerns when someone was not wearing a seat belt during an accident.

If you were severely injured in an accident they did not cause, contact our car accident lawyer in Salt Lake City UT. Whether or not you were wearing a seat belt, you may be eligible for damage compensation from the liable driver.

Seat Belt Laws

As a car accident lawyer in Salt Lake City UT might tell you, wearing a seat belt is by far the safest thing you can do upon entering your vehicle. When you make the choice to not buckle up, you may be putting your safety at further risk in the event of an accident.

  • Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have “primary” seat belt laws concerning front seat occupants. This means that a law enforcement officer can issue tickets to a driver or a passenger who is not wearing a seat belt as the primary reason for issuing a citation.
  • Fifteen states have “secondary” laws for front-seat adult occupants. A secondary seat belt law means that a police officer can only issue a ticket to someone for not wearing a seat belt if they are pulled over for a different traffic violation.
  • Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have laws that enforce the use of rear seat belts.

The Right to Compensation

So, what happens if you were not wearing your seat belt when you were the victim of an accident and suffered injuries? There are sixteen states whereby in this scenario you could lose your right to recover any damages that you might otherwise have been entitled to had you been wearing your seat belt. If you were involved in an accident and were not wearing your seat belt, contact our car accident lawyer in Salt Lake City UT from Rasmussen & Miner During a free consultation you can learn more about how we might be able to help you recover your damages.

The Legal Consequences of Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Check with a car accident lawyer in Salt Lake City UT from Rasmussen & Miner. concerning the laws in Utah. Seat belt laws pertain to drivers who are trying to collect damages if they chose not to buckle up when they got into the vehicle. However, there may be extenuating circumstances. A common example is a seat belt that is defective and disconnects in the physical trauma of an accident. It may appear that the rider was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision when in fact they were wearing it.

Safety advocates have spent years trying to convince the public how important it is to wear seat belts every time you get into a vehicle. One of the more recent national calls to action is the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. Driver in many states in the country and you will see billboards and blinking signs on highways and side of roads reminding drivers to buckle up or face a potential fine. In Utah, all passengers must wear seat belts and children up to age 8 must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat. Failure for anyone in a vehicle to be properly restrained can result in a $45 fine for the driver.

And while many of these reminders, along with the threat of fines, have been successful, with almost that 90 percent of people using their seat belts, there are still those who do not. When a person is not wearing a seat belt gets into a car crash, they often suffer much more serious injuries than if they were properly restrained. The legal question then becomes if that failure to buckle up can be used as evidence against them in a car accident injury lawsuit or claim. The answer may surprise you.

Utah law allows victims of car accidents that are caused by other parties to pursue damages against that at-fault party. These damages include medical expenses for treatment of the injuries, loss of income and benefits from not being able to work while recovering from the injuries, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. The point of a personal injury claim or lawsuit is to make the victim “whole” again, back to where they were before the accident.

In order to have the best chance of being successful in getting all the compensation you are legally entitled to, it is important to have a skilled car accident attorney advocating for you. Your attorney will look over all the evidence, analyze the case, talk to witnesses, and determine who was at fault for the crash. There are many possible factors that can cause a crash, such as a driver speeding, using their cell phone, or driving under the influence. The attorney will use all of this information to determine how strong a victim’s case is and whether not wearing their seat belt could affect their case.

In most states, it will not affect the outcome. For example, let’s say a drunk driver slammed into a vehicle in which that driver was not wearing a seat belt. The victim suffered serious injury. Although their injuries may not have been as serious if they had been wearing a seat belt, they would never have suffered an injury if the other driver had not been drinking and crashed into them.

Contact us at Rasmussen & Miner to learn how our car accident lawyer Salt Lake City UT victims rely on for assistance may be able to help you as well.