Many statistics and reports show that using seat belts when driving or riding in an automobile saves lives. Indeed, the numbers are encouraging: for those in the front seats, wearing a seatbelt correctly can reduce the risk of moderate to critical injury by up to 50%. For those in the back seats, rear seat belts may reduce risk of injury by more than 70%. Of course, many people do not use their seatbelts correctly, so the next time you get into your car, check to make sure the belt feeds smoothly and that you hear it click into place. Also be sure that the harness fits over the appropriate shoulder and over your chest.
Not wearing a seatbelt while driving in the San Fernando Valley can have serious consequences. At a minimum, you could be pulled over and fined. In California, the fines depend on the age of the person riding without a seat belt. You could be given the option of going to traffic school instead of paying the fine on the first offense.
Depending on the circumstances, you could also be responsible for the other passengers. California’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act requires people riding in automobiles to wear seat belts, although there are exceptions for those riding in the back seats of taxicabs and limos. The driver is responsible for securing himself and all passengers if everyone in the car is over 16, or if there are children whose parents are not present. If there are children riding with their parents, the parents are responsible for securing the safety belt.
If you are in an auto accident, the consequences of not wearing a seat belt are even greater. Several states, including California, have adopted the so-called “seatbelt defense.” This defense means a defendant may be liable for a smaller amount of damages if the injured party was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. The defense may be used even if the other driver was completely at fault. The defense also applies to passengers injured in car collisions who seek damages. In other words, your potential recovery, as the auto accident victim, could be lessened by your decision to not wear a seat belt.
As an example, if a driver is rear-ended and suffers head injuries, the driver’s Woodland Hills auto accident attorney will argue that the car behind her caused the injuries. The driver of the other car will seek evidence as to whether the driver was wearing her seatbelt. If she was not, the driver of the other car will try to convince the judge, jury, or even simply the claims adjuster that the injured driver should receive a smaller damages award, because she contributed to her own injuries.
Do not let this happen to you. Wear your seat belt while driving in the San Fernando Valley and contact personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg today if you were injured in an auto accident.