Despite most states requiring seatbelt use, some drivers still choose to commute without buckling up. Refusing to wear a seatbelt can result in severe injuries prevented by wearing a restraint.
Many drivers don’t realize that driving without a seatbelt can also affect their accident claim, threatening their ability to recover compensation. Learn how not wearing a seatbelt can affect a car-accident claim in Louisiana.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 51% of people who die in car accidents yearly are not wearing seatbelts. Seatbelts are designed to keep occupants safe in a crash by preventing movement or ejection from the vehicle. They significantly reduce your risk of severe injury in an auto collision.
Unfortunately, approximately 14% of Americans choose not to wear seatbelts, often because they find them uncomfortable or inconvenient. However, the consequences of not wearing a seatbelt can be devastating. In a serious accident, an unrestrained occupant can be ejected from the vehicle or suffer severe injuries due to being thrown around inside the vehicle.
In most states, including Louisiana, seatbelt usage is considered a primary law, meaning an officer can pull over and ticket a driver solely for not wearing a seatbelt.
Louisiana’s seatbelt law requires all drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt while the vehicle is in motion. The law applies to all adult car passenger seats, including the front and back seats.
When it comes to minors, children younger than two must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system that complies with federal regulations. Children at least nine years of age or who have outgrown the weight and height limits of a child restraint system or booster seat must use the vehicle’s adult safety belt.
In 2012, only 79% of Louisiana residents used seatbelts. In a more recent 2019 study, all but two regions of the state had usage rates above 85%. Monroe and Lafayette had the highest seatbelt utilization at 90.5% and 91.1%. These improvements bring the Pelican State closer to the national average of seatbelt use in 2019, which is 90.7%.
Can You File a Lawsuit if You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
Yes. If you’ve been in an accident where you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you may still be able to recover compensation. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights under the law and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
In some cases, the other driver may be held liable for your injuries even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. If the other driver was reckless or under the influence of alcohol, they might be responsible regardless of whether or not you were wearing a seatbelt.
When drivers don’t wear seatbelts, insurance companies can use that as evidence to reduce or deny a claim in Louisiana. But that hasn’t always been the case—at least, not before January of 2021. Failing to wear a seatbelt can now be used as evidence against you by the insurance company or the other driver’s legal counsel. The other side may claim that your injuries were compounded or solely due to your negligence in ignoring the law.
A knowledgeable car-accident attorney with the law firm of Dudley DeBosier can closely examine the incident to determine whether you have a case.
Since Louisiana is a comparative-fault state, accident participants are assigned a percentage of fault regarding damages. For example, if one party is 80% at fault for an accident, that party will be responsible for 80% of the damages. Your lawyer can help you determine how not wearing a seatbelt may affect your percentage of fault in your case and ensure you get the smallest degree of responsibility possible.
Finding a reliable attorney can help you navigate the auto insurance claims system, even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Entrusting your case to the Baton Rouge car-accident lawyers at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers will ensure you build a strong case for your auto-injury lawsuit.
Contact our law firm for a confidential consultation where you can share the details of the accident with our compassionate team members and learn your legal options.
Disclaimer: This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.
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