Baltimore car accident lawyers

How Do Seatbelts Impact Accident Settlements in GA?

Seatbelts are important safety features in pretty much every car on the road today. However, people sometimes do not wear their seatbelts when they are supposed to, be it out of necessity or because they simply do not want to wear a seatbelt at a certain point in time. Sadly, failure to wear a seatbelt often leads to much more serious injuries – or even death – in motor vehicle accidents. Since pretty much everyone knows that not wearing a seatbelt is a bad idea, victims of car accidents may be wondering whether their case will be impacted if they do not wear a seatbelt.

The fact of the matter is that your claim is going to be different if you did not wear a seat belt when you were injured. Although failure to wear a seat belt cannot be used to diminish or eliminate your damages, it can be used in other ways by opposing counsel. They may not want to settle or offer a settlement that is worse than what they would have offered had you been wearing your seat belt.

awTo get an obligation-free review of your case, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling our office at 470) 287-3070 and speak to our Albany, GA car accident lawyers today.

Seatbelt Laws in Georgia

Georgia’s seatbelt laws are detailed in O.G.C.A. § 40-8-76.1(b). Per that section, pretty much everyone in or operating a motor vehicle of any sort needs to have a seatbelt on when the vehicle is in motion. There are some exceptions under § 40-8-76.1(c) – like people with documented medical conditions preventing seatbelt use and certain government employees – but by and large, you need to wear a seatbelt when inside a vehicle.

Failure to wear a seatbelt is an “offense” under § 40-8-76.1(e)(2) with the penalty of a $15 fine. However, failure to wear a seatbelt is not a crime and cannot be used as evidence that you were negligent in court per § 40-8-76.1(d). This differs from other states, which may allow the fact that the plaintiff was not wearing a seatbelt to be used by the defendant to hurt a plaintiff’s claim.

All that said, the fact that failure to wear a seatbelt won’t be held against you in court does not mean that wearing a seatbelt is not important. You should still try and do so if at all possible, as not wearing a seatbelt may change things about any car accident lawsuits you find yourself a part of.

Can Wearing a Seatbelt Impact a Personal Injury Settlement in Georgia

Failure to wear a seatbelt can absolutely have an impact on your case and how our Georgia car accident lawyers go about pursuing it. The exact spots where failure to wear a seatbelt will impact your claim will vary from case to case, so the only way to determine how it is going to impact your case is to start working with our attorneys.

More Serious Injuries

Perhaps most importantly, failure to wear a seatbelt can lead to more severe injuries than you would have otherwise received. This is why wearing a seatbelt is required by law, after all. A car crash that may have only resulted in minor cuts and scrapes could end up leaving a plaintiff with traumatic brain injuries, cuts, and other serious injuries that could have been mitigated by wearing a seatbelt.

Tougher Settlement Negotiations

Even if opposing counsel knows that they are not going to use the fact that you didn’t wear a seatbelt at trial, they may still want to leverage that information before trial. Opposing counsel may provide a settlement offer that is different from what they would do if they believed you were in no way at fault for your injuries. Opposing counsel may feel like they have a leg up on you and either negotiate harder before trial or be more inclined to roll the dice in front of a jury.

Dealing with Failure to Wear a Seatbelt in Georgia Accident Settlements

If you are pursuing a lawsuit and are worried that failure to wear a seatbelt is going to ruin your case, you should not despair. Many plaintiffs who were not wearing seat belts at the time they were injured had their cases turn out just fine, and they got all of the compensation they needed to move on with their lives.

One of the more effective ways to deal with the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt is to focus on other facts. For example, our lawyers can draw attention to things the other driver was doing, like speeding or driving drunk, which can have a much larger role to play in injuring plaintiffs.

Another way to deal with the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt is to have a plausible explanation for why that was the case. For example, suppose you had just got into your car when another vehicle slammed into you. In a case like that, you would not have had time to put on your seat belt in any event, so it would not make sense for the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt to be used against you. Alternatively, suppose you were in a very old car that does not have seatbelts because they were not required when the car was built. If you get into an accident in that vehicle, you would still probably be seen as reasonable when not wearing a seatbelt because there is no seatbelt to wear in the first place.

Start the Legal Process with Our Georgia Car Accident Lawyers

The Atlanta, GA car accident lawyers from Rice, Murtha & Psoras are just a phone call away when you dial 470) 287-3070.