Personal Injury Lawyer
The short answer is yes. Read on to learn how you can file a personal injury lawsuit, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt, and how that might affect your chances of compensation.
The practice of personal injury often falls under the tort law area of negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.
For example, Car A runs a red light and hits Car B. As a result, Car B is totaled, and the driver suffers broken arm among other injuries. To recover for damages, Car B will need to show that Car A was negligent. Negligence has four elements that must be met for it to be an effective legal strategy:
- Duty: The driver of Car A owed Car B a duty to drive responsibly.
- Breach of Duty: The driver of Car A breached that duty when they ran the red light.
- Causation: Car A’s breach of duty caused the auto accident.
- Damages: the driver of Car B suffered property damage and personal injury as a result.
But what if the driver of Car B wasn’t wearing a seat belt? Did they somehow contribute to their injuries?
How It Affects A Lawsuit
Car B can still file a negligence lawsuit against Car A, though Car A’s attorneys may argue that the Car B was “Contributorily” or “Comparatively” Negligent. Ultimately, how much you’ll be able to recover will depend on the negligence laws in your state. Many states allow for contributory and comparative negligence defenses.
Contributory Negligence Defense : This defense allows for a plaintiff to be barred from recovery if the plaintiff is found to have at all acted negligently and contributed to the accident or their own injuries, even if they are just 1% at fault.
Comparative Negligence Defense: This defense allows a plaintiff to recover their damages but reduces them by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. There are three types of comparative negligence.
- Pure Comparative: The plaintiff will receive their total damages, minus their percentage of fault. For example, if Car B is found to be 25% at fault and the damages total $100,000, Car B will only receive $75,000.
- 50% Modified Comparative: The plaintiff will not recover if they are found to be as equally responsible for the accident as the defendant.
- 51% Modified Comparative: The plaintiff will not recover if they are found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident.
If you’ve were injured in an auto accident, regardless of whether you were wearing your seat belt, contact a car accident lawyer Phoenix, AZ offers for a free initial consultation.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at the law offices of Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into car accident injuries and personal injury cases.