Will Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect My Car Accident Claim?

Will Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect My Car Accident Claim?

No one ever expects to be in a car accident when they get behind the wheel. While it’s important to put your seatbelt on for your safety — and to comply with the law — some people might choose not to wear them. In the event a crash occurs, failure to buckle up can result in severe injuries, lasting disability, permanent disfigurement, or even fatality. However, even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you are not precluded from suing an at-fault party for their negligence under Pennsylvania law.

Pennsylvania’s Seatbelt Law

It’s widely known that seatbelts can help prevent serious injuries and fatality in car accidents. Pennsylvania’s Seatbelt Law was passed in 1987, requiring all drivers and front seat passengers over 18 to wear seatbelts. In addition, those under 18 must be buckled up no matter where they sit in the vehicle. There are also child-restraint laws in place concerning the types of car seats that must be used for children ages eight and younger.

Significantly, the seatbelt law is taken very seriously in the Commonwealth. If you are pulled over for a traffic infraction, such as speeding or running a red light, you may be issued an additional ticket if the officer finds that you or your passenger were not properly restrained by a seatbelt.

Does Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?

If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt when a crash occurred, you may have suffered injuries far worse than they would have been if you were restrained. Nevertheless, failure to put your seatbelt on cannot be used against you as evidence of negligence if you file a personal injury action. Pennsylvania law clearly specifies that not wearing a seatbelt is irrelevant when determining liability for a collision — and any evidence regarding a plaintiff’s failure to buckle up will be inadmissible in court.

Critically, a defendant cannot argue comparative negligence to avoid liability if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. But in some cases, both drivers may have been negligent. Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law explicitly states that a plaintiff will not be barred from recovering for their injuries, provided they were less negligent than the defendant. If it is found that the plaintiff was 51 percent or more responsible for the accident that caused their injuries, they will not be able to recover their damages.

However, the law also states that a victim’s compensation will be reduced by their share of fault. For example, if you were 10 percent negligent and awarded $100,000 for your damages, you would be entitled to receive $90,000.

Types of Damages Awarded in a Pennsylvania Car Accident

Car accident injuries may require extensive medical treatment and cause you to lose a considerable amount of time from work. If you were hurt due to the negligence or recklessness of another driver, you may be entitled to various damages in a personal injury lawsuit — regardless of whether you were wearing a seatbelt. Specifically, you may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for both your economic and your non-economic losses.

Economic damages that are recoverable after a car crash can include:

  • Unreimbursed medical bills for physical therapy, doctor’s visits, and surgery
  • Unreimbursed emergency room treatment costs
  • Out-of-pocket costs for medication, medical devices, or supplies
  • The cost of hiring assistance to help with tasks you are unable to carry out
  • Lost wages and future loss of income
  • Costs incurred for home or vehicle modifications due to an impairment

Car accident victims may also receive compensation for their pain and suffering by making a personal injury claim. These types of non-economic damages are much more difficult to calculate than things like lost wages and medical expenses. Rather than compensate you for the financial toll the accident took on your life, non-economic damages address how your injuries affect you on a daily basis. In determining non-economic damages, the physical pain and mental anguish you experienced in connection with your injuries would be considered, as well as loss of quality of life.

It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately following a car crash. Not only is getting the care you need crucial to get better, but also to build your case. Medical records are the foundation of every personal injury lawsuit and are vital to demonstrate your economic and non-economic damages.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney

The personal injury attorneys at Berman & Associates understand the impact a car accident can have on your life and livelihood. We strive to hold the negligent party accountable and ensure you obtain the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Located in Media, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Delaware, Chester, and Montgomery Counties, as well as in the City of Philadelphia. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Personal Injury