What If I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt at The Time of My Accident? Can I Still Recover Damages?

Car accidents can occur at any time. This includes when you aren’t required to wear a seatbelt, such as backing up your car or in an emergency situation. Still, it doesn’t matter whether or not you wore a seat belt during an accident.

According to T. Madden & Associates P. C., you can be compensated for your damages even if you didn’t wear your seat belt at the time of the accident. In the worst case, the insurance adjuster might try to lower your compensation with the “seat belt defense,” but if you were to take your case to trial, this defense isn’t admissible under Georgia’s state laws. What exactly is seat belt defense?

Understanding the Seat Belt Defense

Insurance adjusters use seat belt defense commonly to lower your compensation claim. The seat belt defense refers to the fact that you may have prevented some of your injuries had you worn your seat belt.

Now, this might be partially true. A car accident attorney can help you navigate this issue because, in the end, you did suffer injuries regardless of wearing the seat belt or not. You can sometimes prove that wearing your seat belt wouldn’t have prevented your injuries.

The most important thing regarding car accidents in Georgia is not whether or not you were wearing a seat belt, but rather, who is at fault for the accident. This is because Georgia is an at-fault state and follows the comparative negligence theory.

In this situation, if you were found to be more than 50% at fault for the car accident, you won’t receive compensation for your damages. Still, if you were less than 50% at fault for the car accident, you will receive compensation regardless of your partial fault. The good news is that the seat belt defense cannot be used in trials to lower your personal injury damages or as a liability factor, even if the law requires you to do so while driving.

When Can Drivers Not Wear Their Seat Belts?

The only thing that can lower your compensation claim is if the insurance adjuster convinces you to accept a lower settlement. This is why working with a professional that can provide you with legal aid, such as a car accident lawyer, is essential because you cannot be tricked into such proceedings. Lawyers know that seat belt defense cannot be used in court. Even so, there are situations where you aren’t legally responsible for wearing seat belts, such as:

  • You were in an emergency situation 
  • You drive a vehicle that was manufactured in or before 1965
  • You were backing up your vehicle
  • You are a delivery driver, or a driver dropping off newspapers, or driving below 15 mph to deliver items
  • You are unable to wear seat belts and have signed statements proving that

Hire a Car Accident Attorney

The seat belt defense is just one common strategy the insurance adjuster uses to minimize your compensation, but there are other tactics as well. This is why you should work with a car accident attorney who knows the law and what you are truly entitled to. 

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