Wearing your seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle is an effective way to reach your destination safely. After all, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seatbelts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017 alone.
If you have an automobile collision, your seatbelt may save your life. Still, you may have injuries and property damage that you should not have to cover. If you want to pursue compensation from whoever caused the accident, you should realize how not wearing a seatbelt may affect your claim.
In West Virginia, everyone sitting in the front of a vehicle must wear a seatbelt. Passengers in the rear of the car also must buckle up if they are under 17. While officers typically do not stop motorists for failing to wear seatbelts, not wearing one may reduce the amount of money you can receive after a car accident.
Personal injury laws in West Virginia follow a comparative fault approach. When deciding who is to blame for a car crash, courts assign a percentage of fault to everyone in the accident. If you are more than 50% to blame for the collision, you may not be able to recover any money for your damages. If you have less blame than that, though, the court may reduce your award by your percentage of fault.
Proving any personal injury claim can be challenging. Courts must determine both the actual and legal cause of the accident. Still, you do not want to do anything that may harm your chances of recovering fully for your injuries and property damage. Even if a court only reduces your award by 5%, you stand to lose a significant amount by not wearing your seatbelt.
As you can see, wearing your seatbelt is a good idea. By committing always to buckling up, you increase your chances of surviving an automobile accident. You also bolster your legal case if you ever have to hold another motorist responsible for causing a wreck.