Car Accidents and California’s “Seat Belt Defense”
While we all know that California state law requires that drivers and their passengers wear seat belts while behind the wheel, there may be trips that we assumed would be so short and uneventful that putting on a seat belt wouldn’t be necessary. Unfortunately, Southern California’s roads and freeways can be a chaotic and unpredictable place, and an accident can happen on even the briefest trips.
California’s seat belt defense can reduce your damages award
You might assume that, if you were driving responsibly and not putting anyone else’s life in jeopardy, you’d be fully entitled to the value of your injuries in a crash even when you weren’t wearing your seat belt. Yet California law makes it more difficult to recover the full value of your injuries from a crash in which you as the victim weren’t wearing your seat belt. Learn more about the seat belt defense below, and speak with the skilled and experienced Diamond Bar personal injury lawyers at Blasser Law for a consultation if you’ve been injured in a San Gabriel Valley crash.
California is one of a minority of states that allows drivers at fault for a crash to use the seat belt defense. The seat belt defense is what’s known as an affirmative defense. Defendants will make this argument as a way to reduce the money they owe to a victim. With the seat belt defense, if the defendant in a car accident lawsuit can prove 1) that the victim had access to but wasn’t wearing a seat belt, 2) that the average reasonable person in the victim’s position would’ve worn a seat belt, and 3) that the victim’s injuries were more likely than not to have been nonexistent or greatly reduced had they worn a seatbelt; then the defendant can reduce or eliminate the money they owe to the victim for their injuries.
Skilled California injury lawyers can counter the seat belt defense
The seat belt defense shouldn’t be seen as a deal breaker for accident victims’ claims for damages. Skilled plaintiffs’ attorneys, such as the seasoned Diamond Bar practitioners at Blasser Law, are prepared to counter the seat belt defense with expert testimony and evidence that sheds doubt on the infallibility of seat belts in preventing all injuries in a crash. For example, many crash tests are conducted using dummies that bear little physical resemblance to the average American. Data from these crash tests, often used by defendants at trial, don’t represent the real-life experience of victims in a car accident, and they shouldn’t determine the damages that victims are entitled to recover. It is with this and other forms of evidence that personal injury attorneys can reduce the impact of the seat belt defense on a victim’s damage award from a personal injury lawsuit, but victims are strongly advised to seek the help of a car accident attorney in fighting these claims. The Los Angeles County car accident lawyers at Blasser Law are prepared to help.
Call Blasser Law after a Serious Car Accident in Los Angeles
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Los Angeles car accident, contact the compassionate, effective, and trial-ready Diamond Bar personal injury lawyers at Blasser Law for a no-cost consultation at 909-843-6363.