Can I Recover for Injuries If I was not Wearing a Seat Belt?
Many states have recognized the importance of restraint devices as identified by the imposition of new regulations that require seat belt use. In Missouri, the state law requires that all drivers as well as any front-seat passenger to wear a restraint device or seat belt.1 In Illinois, the restrictions on seat belt usage is stricter as all drivers and passengers over the age of 8, in both the front and backseats, are required to use a safety belt as well as those under the age of 8 or under the corresponding size requirement, must use an appropriate child restraint system.2 These laws directly correspond to studies that indicate that the use of a seat belt significant reduces the injuries caused an accident.
The Benefits of Safety Belts
The overall purpose behind using a seat belt or safety belt is twofold: 1.) to prevent a driver or passenger from becoming a projectile object during a crash by being thrown or ejected from the car or colliding with the car’s inside or other passengers and 2.) functions to absorb the forceful impact of the collision in the parts of the body that can physically withstand the force best such as the hips, shoulders, or chest.3 Studies on the benefit of shoulder harnesses and lap belts revealed that used together the risk of death in an auto accident is reduced by 86 percent and proper seat belt use in general reduces serious traffic injuries by nearly 50 percent.4 Injuries caused by not wearing a seatbelt can be severe or even fatal.
Car Accidents When Not Wearing A Seat Belt
Despite the benefits of wearing a seat belt and the fact that the law requires seat belt use, many drivers get behind the wheel or passenger begin to ride, without buckling up first. An injured party is not barred from seeking compensation for injuries sustained in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver merely because the plaintiff was not wearing a safety belt, however, the state of Missouri does allow a defendant to assert a seat belt defense to limit the amount of damages received. Deploying the seat belt defense is an element to the process of determining liability, in any accident using this defense the argument is that there are two points of collision: the first collision causes the accident and the second collision occurs to the body because of a failure to wear a seat belt.5 This means that while recovery can occur even if a seat belt was not worn, the seat belt defense along with the existence of any seat belt laws, the theory of comparative negligence, or any other argument showing split fault may cause a reduction in the amount of damages an injured party receives.6
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered a loss or harm during a car accident, even if you were not buckled up, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call The Bruning Law Firm at 314-735-8100.