Will Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Discredit my Case?
Texas law 545.413 states that everyone in the vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt. Fines for not complying can be up to $250, and the driver is responsible for ensuring that passengers are wearing their restraints.
But what happens if you’re injured in a wreck while not wearing a seatbelt, but you’re not the at-fault party? Do you still have legal grounds, or will the case be thrown out?
The Car Crash Captain weighs in on what your rights are, what needs to be done, and what the consequences can be for not buckling up.
Seatbelts Do Save Lives
More people are wearing their seatbelts than ever before. In fact, in the last two decades we have reached, and surpassed, 90% usage. Of course, that means 10% of people out there still don’t buckle up.
It’s hard to do a study on how many lives are saved with seatbelt use; there’s really no way to recreate an accident and see what would have happened buckled or unbuckled. But with thousands of fatal accidents every year, investigators can make some pretty accurate predictions on what happens when you’re buckled vs. unbuckled.
The data shows that thousands of lives are saved using seatbelts, and thousands more can be saved if the other 10% would fasten their belts before driving.
Some studies show that half of fatalities are those who didn’t buckle their belts. The conclusion: buckle up not just because it’s illegal not to do so, but because it’s in your own best interest.
Texas’s Modified Comparative Fault Rule
But we’re wondering what happens if you’re injured in a wreck, that wasn’t your fault, and you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. What it comes down to is what is called the modified comparative fault rule.
This rule, simplified, means that it’s not an all-or-nothing wreck. In some states the at-fault party is 100% liable, and the victim is 0% liable. In Texas, however, it can be another percentage.
For example, a driver runs a stop sign in the middle of the night, and collides with another vehicle. But that other vehicle didn’t have their headlights on. The court could decide that the vehicle operating without headlights on was partially to blame for the wreck.
But does failure to buckle cause a wreck? Of course not. Failure to buckle, however, does cause greater injuries during a wreck.
If you aren’t buckled up when you’re in the wreck, the at-fault party could argue that your injuries were substantially worse than if you were buckled up. Depending on the case, it could be argued that had you worn a seatbelt, you wouldn’t have suffered any injuries, and thus no compensation is awarded.
That doesn’t mean that’s the outcome every single time. If a loved one is killed by being hit head-on by a semi-truck, the seatbelt isn’t going to make a difference. But it does mean that extra work is going to be in order to prove that the seatbelt use, or lack of use, was a contributing factor to your injuries.
Come to Herbert Law Group after Any Accident
So, what are you to do if you’re in a wreck and you weren’t wearing your seatbelt?
You enlist the help of Herbert Law Group of course! We are here to make sure that you receive the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you were still injured and you still deserve to be able to recover.