Can I File a Car Accident Claim if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt?

It goes without saying that seat belts reduce the risk of injury and death in the event of an accident. That’s why 49 states—all but New Hampshire—have implemented laws that require operators and passengers to wear seat belts when riding in a moving vehicle.

Fortunately, if you were unrestrained at the time of your collision, you may still be entitled to compensation for medical bills and other damages. That said, the insurance company might argue that your choice not to wear a seat belt makes you partially liable for your damages.

Read on to learn the answers to a few FAQs about filing a claim after getting hurt in a crash while unrestrained:

How Might not Wearing a Seat Belt Impact the Outcome of my Car Accident Claim?

Insurers have incentive to find reasons to deny or reduce the value of every claim that comes their way. The less money they have to pay out, the higher their profits, so you can expect the claims adjuster to consider all possible options for disputing your claim.

If you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision, the insurance adjuster will likely use that fact to argue that you are at least partially liable for the severity of your injuries. Since Florida follows a pure comparative fault system, that means your final payout could be reduced by your own percentage of fault.

Fortunately, there are steps your attorney may be able to take to overcome such a dispute. For instance, if your injuries would have been just as severe if you had been restrained, your attorney can gather evidence and possibly bring in accident reconstruction experts and medical specialists to provide testimony.

How Long Will it Take to Resolve my Case?

Unfortunately, there’s no standard timeline for resolving car accident claims, and in cases involving liability disputes, delays are common. If you turn to a seasoned personal injury lawyer, though, you can rely on your legal team to anticipate such delays and take steps to avoid them.

What Kinds of Damages Might be Recoverable?

In the state of Florida, car accident victims may be able to pursue the following damages:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Lost benefits;
  • Loss of future earning capacity;
  • Property damage;
  • Home and vehicle modifications;
  • Alternative transportation;
  • Home care;
  • Child care and domestic help;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Loss of enjoyment of life;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of consortium; and
  • Punitive damages, if the defendant acted with intentional malice or gross negligence.