Calvin Smith Law - The Injury Lawyers

Can You Sue if You Weren’t Wearing Your Seatbelt in a Car Crash?

Not wearing a seatbelt can impact your car accident case

Our Atlanta lawyers sometimes meet with car accident victims who weren’t wearing a seatbelt and are worried it means they can’t pursue justice. The truth is that you may still be entitled to compensation if you didn’t have your seatbelt in a car crash.

Our Atlanta car accident lawyers explain what you need to know about comparative fault and failure to wear a seatbelt.

In Order to Collect Damages, Your Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Must Prove Fault

Before you can even think about demanding compensation, your Atlanta accident lawyer must prove fault. To do this, your lawyer must show that the other driver was negligent. All this means is that the defendant didn’t behave the way a reasonable person would have given the circumstances.

They’ll need to demonstrate that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident and that you were hurt in the car wreck. No matter how confident you are that the defendant was responsible, your attorney needs to be able to submit sufficient evidence to show that the defendant was responsible for the crash.

While your car accident attorney works hard to prove the defendant was at fault, their attorney will be doing the opposite. If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of the crash, it may cast you in a negative light.

The Defendant’s Lawyer Will Try to Shift Some of the Blame Onto You

In most accident cases, the defendant will argue that the victim did something to contribute to the crash. For example, they may argue that your brake lights weren’t working or that you didn’t have your headlights on.

If the police report and eyewitness statements state that you didn’t have your seatbelt on, the defendant will argue that you contributed to your injuries. This can lead to your damages being reduced.

When it comes to any civil lawsuit, the plaintiff is legally required to mitigate damages. For example, if you don’t go to the hospital immediately following your crash, the other driver will argue that it’s your fault your injuries worsened.

The same is true when you are caught not wearing your seatbelt during an accident. The other driver’s attorney will argue that your injuries would not have been as bad if you’d had your seatbelt on.

Car accident in Atlanta

Your Compensation Can Be Reduced If You Were Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Georgia follows something called a modified comparative fault rule. This means that a plaintiff can still demand damages, even if they were partially at fault. If the court finds you are partially responsible, your damages are reduced by your percentage of fault.

For example, imagine the court finds you are 10% at fault for not wearing a seatbelt. This means your damages can be reduced by 10%. So, if you initially sued the defendant for $100,000, your damages would be reduced by anywhere by $10,000.

Being Partly at Fault Can Impact Your Settlement

You have to remember that most car accident lawsuits settle out of court. This means there will not be an opportunity for a judge or jury to determine that you were partially at fault.

What will happen is that the defendant’s lawyer will bring this point up during settlement negotiations. Your Atlanta accident lawyer will be prepared to address this issue when they discuss your settlement.

Contact a Skilled Atlanta Car Accident Attorney Immediately

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, there’s a good chance you’ll be entitled to compensation. Of course, your Atlanta accident lawyer must first prove that the other driver was at fault. If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of the crash, it could impact your case.

We recommend that you speak with an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. You need to be upfront and honest with them about your accident.

Contact The Law Office of W. Calvin Smith, II, P.C. to schedule your free consultation today.

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