Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Can I Still Sue for Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident if I Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

Posted Friday, March 5, 2021 by Chris Thayer

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may have a number of things running through your mind, such as how you will move forward, afford medical expenses and vehicle repairs, and deal with the pain caused by your injuries. In the simplest of circumstances, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of your options for recovery. If you were not wearing a seatbelt, that can add another layer of uncertainty, leading many people to assume they are barred from recovering anything because they broke the law or are somehow responsible for their own harm. However, legally, this is not the case. Not wearing a seatbelt can exacerbate injuries, but it cannot cause a car crash. If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you are legally entitled to hold the other driver accountable, regardless of whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not.

*Can Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect my Settlement?* In Washington state, not wearing a seatbelt does not prevent you from bringing a personal injury claim, however, it can affect your settlement. Washington is a comparative fault state. This means that the fault of both parties contributed to causing the accident is considered by the court when determining liability. Moreover, the defendants can introduce evidence of your negligence to try and decrease their own liability. If you were involved in a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, you should be prepared for the other side to argue that this increases your own liability and decreases theirs. This is not true in all cases, however. In order to affect your settlement, the other side must demonstrate that your injuries could have been avoided or reduced had you been wearing a seatbelt. If your only injury was a broken foot, the defense will not likely be able to argue that wearing a helmet would have had any effect on mitigating your injuries. However, if you were thrown from the vehicle and suffered serious head trauma, it may be that a seatbelt could have avoided these injuries, in which case, your settlement could be dramatically reduced.

To demonstrate this concept, say Driver A was speeding and ignored a stop sign, T-boning Driver B, who was not wearing a seatbelt. Driver B sustained multiple broken bones, and was thrown from the car, causing a concussion. If the jury determines, based on expert medical testimony and evidence, that Driver B’s injuries could have been reduced by 30% if Driver B was wearing a seatbelt, then Driver B may be found 30% liable for their own injuries. If Driver B is then awarded $100,000 by the jury, Driver B will keep $70,000 ($100,000 - 30%).

*Talk to an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Lawyer * If you have been injured in a Washington vehicle collision, do not let the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt stop you from getting the legal support and financial compensation to which you are entitled. Serving Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Rento, Burien, Mercer Island, Issaquah, and all surrounding areas, Pivotal Law Group is here to zealously advocate on your behalf, and help get the settlement you need to move forward in life. Call today to schedule a consultation.