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Does Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect a Car Accident Claim?

Being involved in a car accident can be a terrifying experience, particularly if there are any injuries involved. Unfortunately, vehicle accidents are not uncommon throughout the state of Georgia. While most people understand that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of serious injuries or fatalities in an accident, there are still times when drivers get into an accident when they are not wearing their seatbelt. Here, we want to discuss whether not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle accident can affect the compensation you receive if somebody else caused the crash.

What is the Seatbelt Defense?

The “seatbelt defense” is often used by insurance carriers of the at-fault driver in the aftermath of a car accident. The seatbelt defense theory is not too complicated to understand. This means that in an accident where the person struck was supposed to be wearing a seatbelt but wasn’t, the at-fault party will use the seatbelt defense to reduce their liability. In other words, they will claim that the damages would have been avoided had the person been wearing their seatbelt in the first place.

Put simply, the at-fault party will say that the person who was injured did not do enough to mitigate there are risks because they were not wearing a seatbelt and that they (the at-fault party) should not owe as much compensation.

Can You Recover Compensation if You’re Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

Yes, you can recover compensation if you were not wearing a seatbelt but injured in an accident caused by the actions of another driver. Georgia law does not allow for the seatbelt defense to be used in these cases. In fact, the law in Georgia is specifically written to ensure that the seatbelt defense cannot be used when it says that a person’s failure to wear a seatbelt “shall not be considered evidence of negligence” and that the discovery of non-use of a seatbelt by the injury victim “shall not be evidence used to diminish any recovery for damages.” Our experienced Senoia car accident attorneys can help you recover compensation after a car accident, even if you were not wearing a seatbelt.

Seatbelt Laws and Exceptions in Georgia

Seatbelts save lives. Just because Georgia residents can still recover compensation in a crash caused by somebody else, even if they were not wearing their seatbelts, please do not take this to mean that seatbelts should not be worn at all. Countless studies have proven the effectiveness of seatbelts in reducing serious injuries and fatalities when a crash occurs. In Georgia, the seatbelt law includes the following rules:

  • All drivers and front-seat passengers must wear a seatbelt. Failing to abide by this law could result in a ticket and a fine of $15.
  • All passengers aged 8 to 17 are required to wear seatbelts, regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle. Failure to comply with this law can result in a ticket and a fine of $25 for the driver of the vehicle.

Any children under the age of 8 and infants must be secured in an appropriate car or booster seat as required by the child’s height and weight. In general, infants and children must be seated in the rear of the vehicle, and their child or booster seat must be secured to the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A child may be secured only with the vehicle’s seatbelt if the child weighs at least 40 pounds and is at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall or more. Failing to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a fine of $50 for the driver.

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