You've been getting the message to wear your seat belt for decades, but if you still didn't listen and were injured in a car accident that wasn't your fault, you might wonder if your case is going to become more complicated -- or even if you can have a case at all. These situations are tricky because the act of not wearing a seat belt is now considered a known contributor to injury severity, but it's not necessarily the end of your case.
If an insurance company is refusing to pay for your injuries on the grounds that you wouldn't have been injured had you worn your seat belt, you need to speak with a lawyer immediately. Some states have limits on the amount by which an insurance payout can be reduced for non-use of seat belts. For example, Wisconsin allows financial recovery for an accident in which you weren't wearing a seat belt to be reduced by up to 15 percent -- but no more.
Doesn't Fully Exonerate Other Party
Just because you didn't wear a belt does not mean the other party is no longer liable. If they still caused the accident and damaged your car and you, they still need to pay up. Your not wearing a seat belt does not make the accident itself your fault at all. It may be a contributing factor to the level of injury you sustained, but it does not indicate that you never would have been injured if you'd just worn the belt. It's important to spell that out because, in the confused and stressful aftermath of the accident and your recovery, it's easy to feel like you can't fight back if the other party's insurance company refuses to pay.
Doesn't Necessarily Qualify as Negligence
While there are ways for insurance companies to legally reduce your payout, such as in Wisconsin's case, the company can't claim that you were negligent. If this case goes to court, it is likely that the other insurance company will claim the lack of belt-wearing indicated that you may have been negligent in other ways, or they may try to connect your case with others in which they didn't have to pay out. All cases are different. A skilled auto accident attorney can help pick apart the insurance company's case and get you as much of a payout as possible. And it might even be possible to get the state's reduction allowance lowered so that you get even more back from the insurance company.
You'll have to talk to a lawyer to see, though. Contact an auto accident attorney like Carl L. Britt, Jr. immediately to discuss your injuries, what the insurance company is claiming, and what the state says you can get back. You may find your case looking a lot brighter afterward.Share
6 June 2017
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