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Can Not Wearing a Seatbelt Impact My Car Accident Claim in California?

Although wearing a seatbelt may seem like an inconvenience to some drivers and passengers, seat belt laws have saved almost 400,000 lives since 1975. California seatbelt laws require both drivers and passengers to wear this safety device whenever a vehicle is in motion. However, even if you violate California seatbelt laws, you may still be eligible to pursue a car accident claim for injuries sustained due to another driver’s negligence.

If you were seriously injured in a car accident in California, you may still hold a negligent driver accountable for the injuries and other losses you have suffered due to their lack of care. At Benchmark Injury Law, we are dedicated to developing strong relationships, prioritizing personalized legal service and the unique needs of our clients to deliver the best possible results in a car accident claim.

Seat Belt Laws in California

California Motor Vehicle code § 27315(d) states that it is unlawful to operate a vehicle on any roadway unless the driver of the vehicle, and all passengers 16 years of age or over are wearing a seatbelt.

The penalties for not wearing a seatbelt while traveling in California are the following:

  • A $20 fine for the first offense
  • A $50 fine for each subsequent offense
  • With the fine and other penalty assessments, you will likely pay around $162 for a first time “seatbelt violation,” while the total fines and penalties increase to around $490 for failing to ensure passengers under 16 are restrained
  • In lieu of assessing fines, the court may order a person convicted of a first offense to attend traffic school.

While it is a good idea to wear your seatbelt, receiving a ticket for not wearing a seat belt does not affect your ability to open a car accident claim in California. For an assessment of your unique car accident claim, speak with an experienced California car accident lawyer at Benchmark Injury Law for prompt answers to your accident-related legal questions, including your chances of success in recovering compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident.

Filing a Car Accident Claim if You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt

If you were in a car accident and were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision, there are a few things to consider. While the failure to wear a seatbelt does not bar you from pursuing a car accident claim in California, it may affect your chances of success, for example, how much money you could receive in compensation. Here’s how:

California Seat Belt Defense

To avoid liability for injuries you sustained in a car accident, the at-fault party or the insurance company may employ a “seatbelt defense”, reasoning that not wearing a seatbelt contributed to the severity of your injuries. In other words, had you been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, your injuries would not have been the same, or as severe. Essentially, this defense paints you as being comparatively negligent for the failure to wear a seatbelt.

An experienced car accident lawyer at Benchmark Injury Law understands how to dispute the “seat belt defense,” including arguing that the at-fault party’s negligence -not the lack of wearing a seatbelt – caused the car accident. Speak with a skilled car accident lawyer for experienced legal guidance navigating the complexities of this type of claim.

Speak With the Experienced California Car Accident Lawyers at Benchmark Injury Law

If you have experienced a California car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, hiring a skilled car accident lawyer at Benchmark Injury Law is essential. We are well-versed in the complexities of going up against the many defenses employed by insurance companies and their lawyers, including the “seat belt defense,” and will advocate on your behalf so you may secure the justice you deserve.

At Benchmark Injury Law, we have your best interest at heart and will fight the insurance companies so that you receive the compensation you deserve as you focus on your healing. Starting the car accident claims process may seem daunting, but we are here to help you every step of the way. Schedule a free consultation at (949) 504-9031 or fill out our contact form today.

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