Are You Still Eligible for Compensation if You Did Not Have Your Seatbelt on During a Crash?
People generally understand how injuries in car accidents can be potentially grievous and devastating. In addition, they also recognize the repercussions of not wearing a seatbelt, on the extent and severity of those injuries. Most of the states, including Mississippi, now have seat belt laws that require all passengers in a motor vehicle to buckle up.
The states that follow the premise of contributory negligence will hold you responsible if you suffer injuries in an accident but are found not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. However, Mississippi being a pure comparative fault state, if you are the victim of an accident, you can recover damages in spite of being 99 percent at fault, although your recovery is cut down by your degree of fault.
Many Mississippi motor vehicle accident victims do not pursue a claim to recover compensation for their injuries for the lack of information and understanding of the seat belt laws. Below, we try to provide information and knowledge regarding seat belt laws and personal injury claims that you will find useful to determine if you are eligible for compensation, even if you were without a seat belt when the accident took place.
Seat Belt Defense and Its Impact on Your Claim
If you sustained injuries in an auto accident, the defendant or the insurance company will usually try to bolster their defense by claiming that you were at least partially, if not completely, at fault and responsible for the crash. This may include arguments directed at your failure to wear a seat belt, and how this act of negligence on your part should reduce the proportion of damages they need to pay.
Usually, under the comparative negligence law, the potential damages to be borne by the defendant or their insurers stand reduced in proportion to the degree of your fault. However, Mississippi law states that the plaintiff shall not be penalized for not wearing their seat belt in an accident.
The Mississippi Law Does Not Punish You for Not Wearing Your Seat Belt
The Mississippi Code M.C.A. § 63-2-3 states that the failure to wear a seat belt shall not be treated as comparative negligence. What this means is that the at-fault individual or entity shall remain liable to pay for all of your injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering, even if you did not have the seat belt on at the time of your accident.
However, since insurance companies are businesses out to maximize their profits, expect them to still use your failure to wear a seat belt as an argument to beat down the settlement amount that they offer you. Do not put it past them to use every tactic in their books to reduce or deny your claim, including keeping you in dark about the seat belt laws in Mississippi.
Instead, they will try to make it seem as if the accident and your subsequent injuries were solely your fault because you failed to use your seat belt. It thus becomes imperative that you consult with an experienced Mississippi personal injury attorney who is well-acquainted with the laws in the state and can help protect your legal interests as well as secure the maximum compensation for your injuries.
Establishing Fault and Assigning Liability for Damages
Although the law grants you the right to seek maximum damages for a motor vehicle accident, despite you not wearing a seat belt, you still need to prove fault before you can actually recover the compensation. To do so, you must be able to satisfy these four elements:
- Duty:You were owed a duty of care by the defendant who needed to drive in a reasonable, cautious, and prudent manner
- Breach of Duty: The defendant breached their duty of care towards you, through their sheer negligence or gross misconduct
- Causation: you as a plaintiff need to establish that the breach of duty by the defendant led to your injuries and losses
- Damages: You suffered injuries and sustained damages as a result of the accident
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Mississippi to Recover Fair Compensation
Often, victims of a motor vehicle accident suffer debilitating injuries and yet shy away from seeking compensation because they feel they were at fault for not wearing a seat belt. If you are in such a situation, you could miss out on the compensation you rightfully deserve if you do not hire a competent personal injury attorney who is well-versed with the Mississippi personal injury laws.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of whether you were wearing a seat belt or not, do not wait any longer. Contact the attorneys at the Gardner Law Firm today to schedule a free and no-obligation consultation. Call today at (228) 900-9618 or contact us online.