Do I Still Have a Case if I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt?

woman in winter coat using seat beltSome car crash victims may assume they are unable to file a claim because they were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision. The problem is, the issue can be a lot more complicated than that.

Discussing the crash with an experienced Minneapolis car accident lawyer from TSR Injury Law may be in your best interest because you may still be able to pursue compensation.

Minnesota Seat Belt Laws

Minnesota’s seat belt law requires that all drivers and passengers – including those in the back seat – be buckled up with a seat belt or appropriate child car seat. This is a primary law, so drivers can be stopped if a law enforcement officer observes a violation of this law. The driver or passenger may be issued the ticket, depending on his or her age. These tickets and fees can surpass $100.  This is the criminal side of the seat belt law.

Even though it is against the law in Minnesota to be transported in a vehicle without wearing a seat belt, Minnesota civil law prohibits using evidence of not using a seat belt in personal injury or property damage cases. In other words, insurance companies cannot add fault to you for not wearing a seatbelt.  One exception to the civil rule is when the case concerns a manufacturing defect in a seat belt or child passenger restraint system. The claim is then built upon the seatbelt and therefore usage is part of the claim.

Arguments Made by Insurance Companies

Insurance companies may still try to reduce any settlement offer they make you or deny your claim outright for failure to wear a seat belt. The insurance company may argue that you were partially liable for your damages. It might argue that you would not have been injured had you been wearing your seat belt or that you made your injuries worse than they would have been by not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident.

Some pieces of evidence that may help strengthen your claim include:

  • Medical records or statements from medical experts that reveal that your injuries were not due to non-seat belt use
  • Dash cam recordings that show even if you had been restrained, you still would have been injured
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts who can explain your injuries were not more severe because you were unrestrained
  • Photographs of the accident that show its severity
  • Footage from surveillance cameras near the scene of the accident

Comparative Fault in a Car Crash Claim

If your driving negligence contributed to the accident, Minnesota’s comparative fault law may apply. According to this law, you are not barred from recovering compensation for a claim even if you were partially negligent, provided your degree of negligence is not greater than the defendant’s degree of negligence. As long as you are less than 50 percent at fault, you may make a claim. However, your award is reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. Therefore, if you are found 20 percent at fault and suffered $10,000 in damages, your recovery would be reduced by $2,000 to $8,000.

Contact TSR Injury Law for Help with Your Claim

If you were injured in a collision and are concerned about how not wearing a seat belt may impact your claim, the personal injury team at TSR Injury Law is available to answer your questions.

Our lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your claim and explain your options. We charge no upfront fees and work on a contingency. If there is no recovery, there is no fee, so there is no risk to you either way.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. TSR Injury Law: (612) TSR-TIME.

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