Car accidents can leave drivers and passengers with devastating injuries, even when they’re taking all necessary safety precautions. Failing to wear your seatbelt, however, can make those injuries even worse.

Many people assume that if they weren’t wearing their seatbelt, there’s no point in filing a claim against the driver who caused the accident. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to a legal concept called comparative negligence, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries.

Proving negligence in car accidents

When you’re on the road, you have a responsibility to follow all traffic laws and do your best to stay alert to any hazards. When someone violates that duty and causes injury as a result, they can be considered negligent.

To prove negligence in a car accident, a plaintiff must show:

  • Duty: The defendant had a duty to the plaintiff. In car accident claims, that means that the defendant was obligated to follow the rules of the road and avoid harming other drivers or passengers.
  • Breach: Breach means that the defendant failed to meet their duty, whether they were drunk driving, ran a red light, followed too closely behind another car, were speeding or violated another rule.
  • Causation: Causation means that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the accident. For example, if someone T-bones your vehicle while running a red light. They failed to follow traffic laws, which caused the accident.
  • Damages: A plaintiff has to suffer “actual harm” to recover compensation. Near-misses don’t qualify.

Comparative negligence and car accidents

When you fail to wear a seatbelt as a driver, front seat passenger or person under 15 years old, you’re also breaking traffic laws, but that doesn’t necessarily bar a lawsuit or insurance claim.

Comparative negligence allows plaintiffs to recover damages from negligent defendants. The plaintiff and defendant are each assigned a percentage of fault. If the insurance company or court deems a plaintiff 50 percent or less at fault, their award will be reduced by that percentage. Conversely, if the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, they will not be allowed to recover—and the other party may be able to recover compensation from them.

Therefore, if you were awarded $100,000 for an accident claim, but deemed 15 percent at fault, your award would be reduced to $85,000.

The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you explore your legal options—even if you were comparatively negligent. Call today to learn more.

Discuss your accident claim with a Columbus personal injury lawyer right away

The Law Offices of Tim Misny can help you with your accident claim. When you’re the victim of negligence or recklessness, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at (877) 614-9524 so that I can evaluate your case right away.