After you have suffered an injury in a car accident, you may be entitled to a settlement when the other driver was at fault. One factor that can make life more difficult is if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Even if a claim is more complicated, it is still possible for you to get financial compensation.
Call the Liberty, MO car accident attorneys at Aramjoo Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers to learn more about the compensation available for a crash with no seatbelt.
Seatbelts Do Save Lives
According to the Centers for Disease Control, seatbelts reduce the risk of car accident death in front seat passengers by up to 45 percent. The rate is even higher for occupants of pickup trucks and SUVs. Failing to wear a seatbelt can worsen your injuries. What may have been a minor car accident can now become a serious and life-threatening event.
Injuries from Not Wearing a Seatbelt
Not wearing a seatbelt can cause the following injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Severe lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Although you may suffer minor injuries from the seatbelt itself, they pale in comparison to what may happen if you or a passenger are unrestrained. There is a reason why the national rate of seatbelt usage reaches 90 percent. However, according to the CDC, the rate of seatbelt usage in Missouri is slightly lower.
Missouri Laws About Seatbelt Usage
Missouri law makes it mandatory for drivers and front-seat passengers to wear their seatbelts at all times when the car is in operation. In addition, children under the age of 16 must wear a seatbelt if they are too large for a child booster seat, no matter where they are sitting in the car. The driver has a legal responsibility to ensure that children are in seatbelts, and they are liable for any penalties. Adult passengers other than the driver must pay their own fines if caught without a seatbelt.
In Missouri, seatbelt laws are secondary, meaning that the officer cannot stop you for not wearing a seatbelt alone. They will give you a citation along with a ticket for another motor vehicle offense. Some jurisdictions in the state allow officers to stop you solely for not wearing a seatbelt. The state fine for failure to wear a seatbelt is $10 plus court costs. While the fine does not seem like much, if the officer shows up to the scene of an accident and learns that you were not wearing a seatbelt, you can lose far more money.
Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Makes an Insurance Claim More Difficult
Even if the other driver is legally responsible for the crash, the insurance company may try to reduce your actual compensation. Remember that the ultimate determination is whether the driver is responsible for your injuries, as opposed to the accident. The insurance company will look at your actions to see if they may have been the cause of your injuries. The legal principle is known as contributory negligence.
Failure to wear a seatbelt will make car accident injuries far worse. While you may have suffered injuries from the seatbelt itself and your body making contact with hard surfaces in the vehicle, you may be thrown from the vehicle if you were not wearing a seatbelt. If the insurance company thinks that the failure to wear a seatbelt contributed to certain injuries, they may try to reduce the amount they pay you. Their argument will be that the failure to wear a seatbelt was the partial cause of your injuries.
Potentially Lower Settlements for a Car Accident With No Seatbelt
Even if you were not wearing a seatbelt, you would still be entitled to some financial compensation. Although your claim may be more complicated, it is certainly not impossible, especially because the driver’s actions caused the accident in the first place. In these cases, you will need an attorney to keep the insurance company from unfairly blaming you.
The insurance company may try to attribute a more significant portion of fault to you than is warranted under the circumstances. If the insurance company insists on giving you more blame than you deserve, you can always file a lawsuit against the responsible driver and let the jury decide how much compensation you should get (assuming that you can prove that the driver was to blame for the crash). Regardless, you need an attorney to fight for your legal interests in any car accident when you have suffered an injury.
Contact a Liberty, MO, Car Accident Lawyer Today
One of your first steps after a car accident should be to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to help with your claim. The attorneys at the Aramjoo Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers, will investigate your car accident and fight for you to receive financial compensation if someone else was at fault.
Your first step in the legal process is to schedule your free initial consultation. You can fill out our online form or call us at (816) 479-5898. You do not need to pay us anything unless you win your case.
Car Accident Case FAQs
What is the contributory negligence law in Missouri?
Missouri uses a comparative fault law, meaning that you may still receive financial compensation so long as you are not entirely to blame for your car accident injuries.
How would the insurance company know that I was not wearing a seatbelt?
The police officer may notice it when they come to the scene of the accident, which will be in the police report.