Safety Belts and Injury Compensation
First of all, we cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a safety belt. Even a short jaunt to a corner store a few blocks away can end in tragedy if a car’s occupants are not buckled in.
Consider the following statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- In 2017, motor vehicle accidents killed 37,133 people in the United States. 47% of those killed were not wearing seatbelts.
- That same year, safety belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives in this country.
- 51% of males killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 were not wearing safety belts.
- Wearing a seatbelt while in the front seat of a passenger vehicle can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45%, and moderate to critical injury by 50%.
- Wearing a seatbelt while in a light truck can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 60%, and moderate to critical injury by 65%.
While it’s true that passenger vehicles are safer now than ever before, that does not negate the need to buckle up. Many people think that because their vehicle is equipped with multiple airbags, seatbelts are unnecessary. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Airbags are designed to be used in conjunction with seatbelts, not as a replacement for seatbelts.
It’s Not Just Smart, It’s the Law
Under Arizona law, everyone in the front seat of a motor vehicle must be wearing a safety belt when that vehicle is moving, including the driver of the vehicle. Passengers in the back seat of a vehicle are not required to be buckled in. However, all occupants 16 years of age and under must wear age-appropriate restraints, regardless of where they are seated in a vehicle. The driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that those aged 16 and under are properly restrained, and can be given a ticket if they are not.
I Wasn’t Wearing My Safety Belt – Can I Still Collect Compensation?
The answer is “yes,” but there are limitations. Arizona is a comparative negligence state, meaning a plaintiff can ask for compensation if she is no more than 99% at fault for her injuries. However, the plaintiff’s total compensation is reduced by her degree of fault.
For instance, if the total amount of compensation for a plaintiff’s injuries was determined to be $100,000, and the jury decided that the plaintiff was 75% at fault for her injuries, she would only be able to collect $25,000 in damages. What this means is that a plaintiff can recover money for injuries caused by a car accident, but the jury may find that she is at fault for the severity of her injuries since if she chose not to wear a seatbelt.
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Phoenix, you will be seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. That insurance company does not want to pay you, and will attempt to minimize its client’s liability in order to reduce the payout to you, or deny it outright. This is why it is important to have the representation of an experienced traffic accident attorney. The Husband and Wife Law Team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., has been successfully representing Arizona car accident victims since 1996, and will put their skill and experience to work on your case. Call (602) 457-6222 for a free case evaluation.
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During a free consultation, we will look at the important aspects of your case, answer your questions, and explain your legal rights and options clearly. All submissions are confidentially reviewed by Mark Breyer.
Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer