Being involved in an auto accident is something most people want to avoid experiencing, and these incidents can lead to innumerable questions running through your head. This is especially true if you sustained an injury in the accident. While wearing a seat belt is highly recommended, what happens if another person causes your accident, but you were not wearing a seat belt? Will you still be able to recover compensation for your losses, or will not wearing a seat belt affect your insurance claim?
In some states across the country, not wearing a seat belt could result in a person not recovering any compensation at all after a car accident. However, that is not true in Texas. Here, the state Supreme Court has ruled that a person can still recover compensation from auto accidents they did not cause even if they were not wearing a seat belt at the time the accident occurred. However, the total amount of compensation may be reduced in these situations based on the comparative negligence system used in Texas.
Like other states, Texas operates under a modified comparative negligence system. This means that a person can still recover compensation for an accident even if they were found to be partially at fault, so long as they were not more than 51% or more at fault for the incident. In these cases, the total amount of compensation awarded to a victim will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. When discussing seat belts, modified comparative negligence has been controversial in Texas. That is because comparative negligence laws (or contributory negligence laws in some places) tend to revolve around the actual cause of the car crash. Not wearing a seat belt has nothing to do with the cause of the actual accident. Rather, seat belts have to do with the subsequent injuries. In these cases, insurance carriers and at-fault parties will argue that the injury victim is partially to blame for their personal injuries because they failed to wear a seat belt.
Suppose Blake is driving a vehicle that is struck by Jackson, and there is evidence that Jackson was intoxicated and changed lanes illegally. Blake sustains significant injuries in the accident that lead to $100,000 worth of medical bills, and the injuries were particularly bad because Blake was not wearing a seat belt. In this incident, it becomes clear that Jackson caused the crash. However, Jackson’s insurance company argues that, because Blake was not wearing a seat belt, he was the cause of the injuries. In this theoretical scenario, a jury may determine that Blake was 20% responsible for his injuries because he did not wear a seat belt. In this instance, he would receive $80,000 in total damages as opposed to the $100,000 to account for his 20% of fault.
If you or somebody you love has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another person, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A car accident lawyer will have the experience and resources necessary to establish liability and work to obtain maximum compensation on your behalf. An attorney can even work with trusted medical professionals and accident reconstruction experts in an effort to show that the other party should be held completely liable for their actions.
At Mike Love & Associates, LLC, we review your situation for free and spell out every option that may be available to you. If we can’t help there is no charge.