Can I Get Compensation For My Car Accident if I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt?
You were rushing to get down the road, and you forgot to put on your seat belt–and then an accident occurred. Perhaps you routinely decide not to wear your seat belt when driving or riding in a car, always assuming you would stay safe enough.
Then, disaster hit.
If you did not wear your seat belt during a car accident, it may have significantly increased your risk of suffering severe injuries–and substantially worsened the injuries you did suffer. People who do not wear a seat belt have a higher risk of being ejected from the car in an accident, which can increase your risk of traumatic brain injury, broken bones, road rash, and lacerations from the windshield or windows.
Can you still get compensation for the injuries you sustained in your car accident, even if you chose not to wear a seat belt?
Nevada Seat Belt Law
In Nevada, all passengers in a vehicle, regardless of age or position in the vehicle, must wear a seat belt. That includes the 50-year-old driver as well as the twelve-year-old child in the back seat of the vehicle.
Unfortunately, many people still fail to wear their seat belts in a car. Some passengers find them uncomfortable and insist that they do not really need them. Others think they can get away with not wearing a seat belt for a short trip. Accidents, however, can strike at any point, regardless of the duration of the trip–and failure to wear a seat belt may mean severe injury.
Partial Liability in Nevada
Under Nevada law, car accidents can be assigned partial liability: that is, each driver may be assigned a percentage of the fault for an accident, rather than one driver alone bearing full liability for the accident.
Partial liability means that each driver may end up bearing a portion of the fault for an accident. For example, if two distracted drivers drift out of their lanes, they both may bear equal liability for the accident. Likewise, if a distracted driver and a drunk driver collide, they may both share a portion of the liability for the accident. Under Nevada law, this means that each party would pay for the percentage of the damages they caused. However, any party that bears 50% or more liability for the accident will not receive compensation for the accident.
The “Seat Belt Defense” in Nevada
Under Nevada law, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, it does not count as an act of negligence and will not count toward determining fault for the accident and for your injuries. While your other actions, including failure to yield, speeding, or driving while distracted or inebriated, may all contribute to liability in the accident, wearing or choosing not to wear a seatbelt cannot be used against you in the accident. As a result, even if you were not wearing a seatbelt in the accident, you may still have grounds to file a personal injury claim and recover the full damages you deserve for your injuries.
However, you should consult with an attorney to determine how liability in the accident, including failure to wear your seat belt, could impact your ability to file a personal injury claim, as well as what compensation you should expect after an accident.
What Compensation Should I Expect if I Failed to Wear My Seat Belt and Suffered Injuries in an Accident?
You did not wear your seatbelt, despite knowing the risks. You suffered serious injuries in the accident. Now, you need to know just how much compensation you should expect, especially if you’re contending with severe injuries and a long recovery period. Can you expect compensation for plastic surgery that you need due to severe lacerations when you went through the windshield? What about compensation for emergency medical transport?
Talk to an attorney about how much compensation you should ultimately expect for the injuries you suffered in your accident. Keep in mind that the liable party–or, more likely, the liable driver’s insurance policy–will not pay your medical care providers directly for your injuries. Instead, the insurance company will pay out a settlement that you can use to cover the costs of expenses related to the accident, including medical care. Your compensation may also be limited by the limits of the liable driver’s insurance policy. If that driver carries only minimum liability insurance, for example, you may receive less compensation than if that driver carries a high-value policy.
In general, compensation for an auto accident includes:
1. Compensation for medical expenses you sustained as a result of the accident.
Medical costs may include the cost of emergency transport, hospitalization, treatment for your injuries, durable medical equipment, and therapy following the accident. Make sure you keep up with your medical bills so that you can clearly establish the medical costs you faced because of your accident and the injuries you sustained.
2. Compensation for the wages you lost because of your injuries.
Often, you may have trouble going back to work immediately after your accident. Serious injuries may mean that it takes longer for you to get back to work. You can claim compensation for those lost wages–and if your accident causes permanent inability to complete your job duties, you may have the right to claim lost earning potential.
3. Compensation for your pain and suffering.
Your car accident injuries can result in immense physical pain and emotional anguish. Many personal injury claims include vital compensation for these key elements of your suffering. Talk to an attorney to learn more about how to include pain and suffering in your claim.
If you suffered injuries in a Nevada car accident while not wearing your seatbelt, you may need an attorney to help you understand your rights and to fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact Gina Corena & Associates today at 702-680-1111 for a free consultation regarding your accident and your rights, including your right to compensation in spite of your lack of seatbelt use.