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If I Don’t Wear a Seatbelt, Can I Recover Damages in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Get Help From a Knowledgeable Tampa Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Florida, then you may be concerned about whether you’re entitled to a recovery. It may be especially concerning if you were not entirely without fault — perhaps you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. In these cases, the defendant is likely to argue that you are responsible for your own injuries.
If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of a car accident’s occurrence, can you still recover damages? Yes, but let’s take a closer look.
Pure Comparative Fault in Florida
In Florida, the doctrine of pure comparative fault applies.
Pure comparative fault allows for plaintiffs to recover damages even when they are 99 percent at-fault for their own injuries. Critically, however, they can only recover for the amount that each defendant is at fault for — their own contribution of fault will be subtracted.
So, for example, suppose that you are seriously injured in a car accident. The court determines that you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time, and as such, are 30 percent at-fault. If the total damages would have been $100,000, then you would be entitled to recover $70,000, or 70 percent of the total (i.e., the percent fault contributed by the defendant).
Evaluating Causation in Florida Cases
To avoid having your damages reduced excessively due to having not worn a seatbelt, you may be able to show that your lack of a seatbelt was not causally linked to the injuries suffered in the car accident. By reducing your total fault contribution, you’ll have access to a higher percentage of the total damages.
For example, suppose that you are injured in a rear-end car accident. Though you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, the fact that you weren’t wearing a seatbelt did not contribute to your injuries, as you were not “thrown about the interior” as a result of the impact. Had you worn a seatbelt, the consequences would have been the same. Under these circumstances, you could argue that the defendant is 100 percent at-fault and that you are entitled to recover the damages in full.
Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer for Legal Assistance
Here at Alley, Clark & Greiwe, our attorneys have decades of experience working with injured plaintiffs throughout the state of Florida, including those who have sustained injuries in car accident scenarios. We understand the unique challenges facing plaintiffs, and how important it is to identify and implement a winning legal strategy at an early stage — by doing so, it may be possible to secure a favorable settlement before the case spirals deeper into litigation.
Still, lawsuits do not always advance in a predictable manner. As a firm, we have represented thousands of plaintiffs over the years, often taking cases all the way through to trial. Should the case proceed to trial litigation, we are more than capable of handling it successfully.
Ready to speak to an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer at our firm? Call us at 239-337-7483 or complete an intake form through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.