Are You Still Eligible for Compensation if You Did Not Have Your Seatbelt on During a Crash?

Everyone occasionally forgets to wear a seatbelt, while others make a habit out of it. But, it is a law within Alabama that all drivers and passengers are expected to wear a safety belt when in a vehicle. However, not everyone follows this rule, and when a car crash happens in Alabama, the big question is, what does that mean for their recovery and compensation?

Compensation and your financial recovery may largely depend on an insurance company’s opinion or view on your role in the crash. They may argue that your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a seatbelt or that a seatbelt would have, in some way, prevented the injuries.

Understanding Contributory Negligence and Alabama Law

There are a few elements of Alabama law that come together to create a complex and often confusing situation regarding seat belt usage. First, Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state, and that means that if you contributed to the crash in any way, you may not receive compensation. Second, Alabama does require all drivers and passengers to use seatbelts. Not wearing a seatbelt is a traffic violation, and officers will issue tickets. Finally, although it is a law to wear seatbelts, not wearing a seatbelt in a crash does not contribute to fault.

That final note that not wearing a seatbelt does not contribute to fault is what allows many victims to pursue compensation even when they weren’t wearing a safety restraint. Unlike in other states, Alabama does not consider the weight of not wearing a seatbelt as contributing to the accident. This means that even if you weren’t wearing your seat belt, you do have the opportunity to pursue full compensation for any of your economic and non-economic damages.

Seatbelt Safety Statistics

One of the most startling seat belt statistics is that the fatality rate jumps from 1 in 732 (when wearing a seatbelt), to 1 in 40 when not wearing a seatbelt. Additionally, the hospital costs of those injured when not wearing a seatbelt are, on average, about 2.5 times the costs of those wearing a seatbelt.

The estimation of probability in fatalities is that those in the front seat who are also not wearing seatbelts are about 57 times more likely to die in a crash. Over the course of their lifetimes, any Alabama driver has more than a 33%% chance of getting into a serious accident that may involve a fatality. Throughout Alabama, serious car accidents are increasing year over year. Information from 2016 showed that personal injuries involving vehicles increased by more than 8%, and the total car accidents increased by more than 5%. The correlation between these two makes it likely that these injuries are arising from more serious accidents rather than low-speed collisions.

Why Is Wearing a Safety Restraint So Closely Reviewed?

Wearing a seatbelt is so closely scrutinized by insurance companies because they see it as the single most important preventative step in avoiding further injury. Clearly, a seatbelt can be the difference between surviving a crash and not surviving a crash. But when you have drivers who go 20 or 30 years without an accident, some degree of complacency can occur. When drivers know that they employ defensive driving tactics regularly and are generally safe on the road, something like a seat belt can seem surface level.

Often the two are compared as to whether it’s more important to drive the speed limit and obey traffic laws than to buckle up. While it’s easy to understand how that perception comes into play, it’s still very important to wear any safety restraint provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

Contacting an Auto Accident Attorney for Help with Compensation

If not wearing a seat belt is one of the factors in your crash resolution, then you might consider speaking with an auto accident attorney at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. With a free case review, you can understand exactly how much of a challenge this might be. While wearing a seatbelt doesn’t mean that you contributed to any form of negligence, it can affect the outcome of the case.

Because of Alabama’s pure contributory negligence, you need someone who will fight to ensure that there isn’t negligence attributed to your role in the crash because of forgetting to wear a seat belt. Contact an Alabama car accident lawyer at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton now.

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