Can I Still Recover Damages If I Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt at The Time of The Car Accident?
Yes. You can still recover damages you sustained in a car crash even if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the car accident. But you will need legal guidance from an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer who can defend against the seat belt defense, which the other party will surely raise to reduce the amount of damages they must pay you.
What is The Seat Belt Law in Florida?
The seat belt law in Florida covers motor vehicles made after 1968 and all operators of cars, vans, and pickup trucks. Drivers covered under this law must wear a seat belt while driving, regardless of the distance of their trip. The law also requires:
- All front-seat passengers must wear seat belts.
- All passengers below 18 years old must be restrained in federally approved child car seats or wear seat belts.
It is important to note that the driver is legally required to buckle a child between three and five years old in a car seat or seat belt. All children below three years old must be restrained in a car seat at all times.
The seat belt law does not apply to drivers and passengers in certain motor vehicles and under certain circumstances:
- Farm equipment operators
- Passengers in buses utilized for transporting people for compensation
- Occupants of trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds
- Passengers of new school buses bought before December 2000
- People with doctor-certified medical conditions that make wearing a seat belt dangerous or inappropriate. Make sure to keep a copy of the doctor’s certificate with the individual when they are driving or being driven.
- Employees of newspaper delivery services
In addition, children between four and five years old can only utilize a seat belt without a booster seat when the driver isn’t the child’s immediate family member, and the child is being driven in an emergency or as a favor.
What Exactly is The Seat Belt Defense?
Florida follows the contributory fault rule when establishing negligence in motor vehicle accidents. This means that if you were partly at fault for the car crash, the compensation you can recover would be diminished by your fault in the crash.
So if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt during the crash, the other party and their insurance provider would most likely raise your non-compliance with the law as a reason for reducing the compensation you are entitled to receive from them.
For instance, if your damages amount to $150,000, but you were found to be 15% at fault for the crash for your failure to wear a seat belt, your compensation will be reduced to $127,500.
Seek Legal Guidance from a Seasoned Tampa Car Accident Attorney
To learn more about your case and your legal options moving forward if you’ve suffered injuries in a car crash and you were not wearing a seat belt, contact Hancock Injury Attorneys today. Set up a free case evaluation with our Tampa car accident attorney by reaching us online or calling 813-915-1110.