On the busy roads of Atlanta, Georgia, car accidents are an unfortunate reality. Seatbelts play a vital role in preventing and reducing the severity of crash injuries. That’s why Georgia’s seatbelt law requires drivers and passengers to buckle up. This article explores what drivers need to know about the seatbelt defense.
One question that many people ask our Atlanta car accident lawyers is “Can I still get compensation if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in a crash?” The short answer is yes. While insurance companies may try to reduce your payout using the seatbelt defense, Georgia law protects your right to claim compensation regardless of seatbelt use.
The life-saving statistics of seatbelt use are undeniable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of fatal injury in frontal crashes by 45% for drivers and passengers. In rollover crashes, this number jumps to 60%, showcasing the belt’s ability to keep occupants securely within the vehicle.
Furthermore, studies reveal that individuals who neglect to buckle up are 30 times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle during a collision, significantly increasing the risk of severe and often fatal injuries.
Georgia’s Seatbelt Law
Georgia, like many states, recognizes the critical role of seatbelts and enforces a mandatory seatbelt law. O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1 stipulates that all drivers and passengers in a motor vehicle operated on Georgia roads must wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt. Failure to comply with this law can result in a citation.
Does Not Wearing a Seatbelt Hurt My Car Accident Case?
Georgia uses a comparative negligence system, meaning fault in an Atlanta car accident case is determined based on each party’s contribution to the accident. You can recover compensation as long as you are less than 50% at fault. If you are 20% at fault, you only get 80% of the damages.
It’s important to note that under Georgia law, failure to wear a seatbelt cannot be used as evidence of negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. However, not wearing a seatbelt could impact your financial recovery.
The argument insurance companies use is that a car accident victim suffered more severe injuries because of the choice to not buckle up.
Overcoming the Seatbelt Defense
Car accident victims who weren’t buckled might face the “seatbelt defense” from the at-fault party’s insurance company. This tactic aims to reduce the payout for damages by arguing that the victim’s choice to not wear a seatbelt contributed to the extent of their injuries.
Navigating this defense successfully requires proactive measures and strategic approaches.
- Medical Records: Secure detailed medical records documenting the full extent of your injuries. This documentation helps establish the severity of the harm, regardless of seatbelt use.
- Accident Reconstruction Reports: If available, obtain accident reconstruction reports that analyze the collision’s dynamics and potential impact forces. These reports can demonstrate that the severity of injuries was primarily caused by the nature of the crash, not the absence of a seatbelt.
- Witness Statements: If any witnesses observed the accident, their testimonies can support your claim and potentially counter the “seatbelt defense” by providing details about the collision’s intensity and the unpreventable nature of some injuries.
Challenging the Argument
Under Georgia law, failure to use a seatbelt cannot be used as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1(d) protects your right to seek full compensation regardless of seatbelt use.
If the at-fault party’s negligence was the primary cause of the accident, regardless of seatbelt use, the focus should be placed on establishing their liability and responsibility for the resulting damages.
Call Our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers Today!
Ultimately, wearing a seatbelt is not merely a legal requirement but a fundamental commitment to personal safety. But our Atlanta car accident lawyers understand sometimes people forget to buckle up, and that mistake shouldn’t stop you from getting the justice you deserve.
Should you find yourself involved in a car accident, contact The Weinstein Firm. We have a thorough understanding of the legal implications of seatbelt use and can empower you to navigate the complexities of personal injury claims and seek appropriate compensation.
Contact us at 770-HELP-NOW for a free case review.