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Seat belts are extremely effective in reducing injuries and the severity of those injuries passengers suffer in car accidents. Despite this, many people choose not to buckle up. There are many reasons that show why this is a terrible idea. First, the stats.
- Seat beat usage reduces injury by up to 50%.
- Airbags are not a replacent for a properly secured seat belt, but an airbag + seatbelt is the best protection
- 2.3 million people are treated in emergency rooms each year due to car accidents
- Younger passengers are less likely to wear a seatbelt
- Men are less likely to wear one than women
- People in rural areas are less likely to wear a seatbelt than those from urban areas.
So, the evidence shows, it’s a good idea to wear your seat belt.
How wearing a seatbelt can destroy your car accident case
But that’s not all. There is a legal reason to wear your seat belt – and I’m not talking about getting a ticket for not wearing your seat belt. If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else, and you were not wearing a seatbelt, the other side will try to use that against you.
In other words, they will claim that your injuries were partially caused by you. Yes, you were partially at fault for your injuries, because you did not wear a seat belt as is required by law. In California, this is known as the seatbelt defense. You can read about it here in California’s jury instructions. If they can prove:
- That a working seatbelt was available
- That a reasonably careful person in your situation would have worn one
- That you failed to wear a seat belt
- Your injuries would have been less severe or avoided altogether
- Then they may have an affirmative defense that will reduce or eliminate your award all together.
So you see, it isn’t just a good idea to wear a seat belt. It is imperative that you do so. You must wear a seatbelt on every trip, no matter how short. Even if you’re going across the street. Especially if you cross an intersection, where many serious accidents occur.
So you must wear a seatbelt on every trip, no matter how short. Also, require everyone in your car to wear one before you even put the car in gear.