Are You Still Eligible for Compensation if You Did Not Have on Your Seat Belt During the Crash?
Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Oct 24, 2019 in Auto Accidents
Did you get injured in a car accident while you were not wearing your seat belt?
This raises the concern of whether you can even pursue compensation for your medical bills and other damages. The other side may say your injuries were the result of you not wearing your seat belt.
Below, learn more about Arizona laws on seat belts and how not wearing one could affect an injury claim. If you were injured in a car crash, contact Phillips Law Group’s Phoenix car accident lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation to review your possible legal options and find out how we may be able to assist you.
Seat Belt Laws in Arizona
Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-909, all front-seat passengers must use seat belts while the vehicle is moving. Drivers must also make sure passengers under the age of 16 are wearing seat belts.
This is a secondary enforcement law, meaning the police cannot pull a driver over simply because he or she or the front-seat passenger were not wearing seat belts. The officer must have another reason for pulling you over, but if he does and you are not buckled up, the officer can cite you for it, in addition to the traffic violation he or she pulled you over for.
ARS 28-907 says it is illegal for drivers to have passengers under the age of five unless they are in a proper restraint system. This is a primary enforcement law, meaning the police can pull a driver over simply because a child under the age of five is not properly restrained.
Could the Other Side Use the ‘Seat Belt Defense’?
Since not wearing a seat belt is against the law in Arizona, the at-fault driver’s insurance company or legal team may want to use the seat belt defense to reduce the value of your claim. Unfortunately, this defense has been used in the past in Arizona so the other side may be able to use it in your case.
The seat belt defense means you would have been unharmed, or your injuries would have been much less severe if you had worn a seat belt.
If your case goes to court, the jury may be required to consider a few factors before applying the seat belt defense:
- You are of an age and have a level of discretion such that not wearing a seat belt could be viewed as making you at fault for your injuries
- Failing to use the seat belt was unreasonable
- Not wearing a seat belt made your injuries worse than they would have been otherwise
- Evidence establishes a reasonable probability about how your injuries were enhanced by not wearing a seat belt
Essentially, a jury will consider if a reasonable person would have worn a seat belt and consider how not wearing a seat belt contributed to your injuries.
It is important for car accident victims to realize they may still be eligible for compensation even if they were not wearing a seat belt. If the other side uses this against you, Arizona’s comparative fault law will likely be applied to your case.
Under this law, any damages you receive will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. So if not wearing a seat belt made you 10 percent at fault for your injuries, your final award of compensation will be reduced by 10 percent.
Contacting an Attorney
The at-fault driver and his or her insurance company may try to use the seat belt defense to avoid responsibility for the crash. This is why you need experienced legal representation in your corner.
The trusted attorneys at Phillips Law Group have obtained more than $750 million in compensation for a wide variety of personal injury victims, including many significant settlements and verdicts for car accident victims - $4,000,000 for an auto accident victim who suffered a spinal cord injury, and $3.1 million for a wrongful death claim involving a motor vehicle accident.
The consultation with our attorneys is free and there are no upfront costs for having us represent you. We do not get paid unless our clients receive compensation.
You can call our legal team right now at 1-800-706-3000.