How Florida’s Seat Belt Defense Affects the Value Your Car Accident Claim

seat_beltThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2017 that wearing a seat belt reduces serious injuries and deaths by approximately 50 percent.

But even if you're wearing a seat belt when a negligent driver causes a collision, you might suffer catastrophic traumatic brain injury, burns, paralysis, or even death.

Florida’s Seat Belt Law

Florida’s seat belt law applies to all motor vehicles manufactured after 1968, and to drivers of all cars, pickup trucks, and vans in our state. A seat belt must be worn while operating the vehicle at all times, regardless of how short the trip may be. The Florida seat belt law also requires the following:

  • All passengers in the front seat must wear a seat belt.
  • All passengers under age 18 must wear a seat belt or be restrained in a child car seat.
  • The driver is responsible for buckling in a child between ages 3 and 5 in a seat belt or federally-approved child seat; and for any child under 3 in a federally-approved car seat.  

What Is Florida’s Seat Belt Defense in Car Crash Cases?

If you weren't wearing a seat belt during an accident with another driver, it could affect your settlement, even if you did nothing wrong to cause the collision. Florida follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine in auto crash cases. This means if you were partially at fault in causing your accident, your compensation is reduced by your percentage of fault in the incident.  

The negligent driver and his insurance company representative are entitled to raise the lack of wearing a seat belt as comparative negligence on your part and a reason why your compensation should be reduced. For example, if you suffered $200,000 in damages, but were found 20 percent at fault for not wearing a seat belt, your settlement is reduced to $160,000.

It's important to keep in mind that you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries even if you forgot to buckle up. However, you need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney who not only understands the seat belt defense and other points that may harm your case, but also has strategies to defeat or minimize them.

To find out how our skilled legal team can help you, fill out our online form or call our office to schedule a free consultation.

 

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