Are You Entitled to Damages if You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
Dec 1, 2020 - Doylestown Car Accident Lawyer
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If you’ve been harmed in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of another, then you may have a right to sue the defendant and secure compensation. But what initially appears — on the surface — to be a straightforward case may be complicated by certain facts.
What happens if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident? It is almost certainly a form of negligence on your part — but does it prevent you from suing the defendant and recovering damages?
Let’s take a closer look.
In order for the defendant to show that your negligence (in failing to wear a seatbelt) is associated with your injuries, they’ll have to establish a causal link. Let’s use an example to clarify how this works.
Suppose that you are harmed in a car accident where you were not wearing a seatbelt. The thing is, you suffered a unique injury profile — you did not suffer any serious injuries from being thrown about the cabin. Instead, the force of the impact caused your legs to fracture.
Under these circumstances, one could argue that the failure to use a seatbelt was irrelevant with respect to the injury — it would have occurred regardless. As such, even if you were negligent in failing to wear a seatbelt, that negligence is not “causally linked” to the injury claim.
In Pennsylvania, even if your failure to wear a seatbelt is causally linked to your personal injury claim, you can still recover damages.
Pennsylvania implements the doctrine of modified comparative negligence, which means that a plaintiff is entitled to sue and recover damages so long as they are less than 51 percent at-fault for the injury.
So, for example, suppose that you are injured in a car accident where you were not wearing a seatbelt. Your total damages come out to $100,000. The court decides that you are 50 percent at-fault. You would not be prevented from suing and recovering damages from the defendant. Instead, you’d simply be entitled to recover 50 percent — or $50,000. A reduced recovery, but certainly better than no recovery whatsoever.
Contact a Doylestown Accident Lawyer for Help
Here at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC, our team has decades of experience working with injured plaintiffs, including those who have suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents. We understand just how challenging it can be to navigate the litigation process, and are committed to providing comprehensive advocacy to our clients at every stage.
Through our close engagement with the client, we gain deep insight into their case, giving us a substantial advantage when it comes to negotiating a settlement or taking the case to trial — the results speak for themselves.
If you’d like to speak to an experienced Doylestown accident lawyer, call us at 888-777-7098 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.