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Legal Blog

Can I Still File a Car Accident Claim If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt?

A serious car accident can leave you with a long road to recovery, and you may want to seek compensation from another party whose negligence you believe caused your wreck. However, you may be wondering if you’re allowed to sue someone else for your injuries if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Texas law requires the use of a seat belt, and while not wearing it can affect your claim, it will not stop you from filing a lawsuit for damages after a car accident. Every car accident case is unique, and a skilled Houston car accident lawyer can help you recover compensation and understand how the details of your case.

Do not delay to contact your lawyer after being in a serious car accident. The Krist Law Firm, P.C., has years of experience helping our clients seek compensation after car accidents, and we know what is necessary to win your case. To speak with a skilled accident lawyer, call our office at (281) 283-8500 to schedule a free, initial case consultation.

Texas Law Has Been Reversed To Now Allow Evidence Of A Failure To Wear A Seat Belt

When seeking to determine exactly who was responsible for the injuries caused by an accident, Texas law had long sought to find only whose negligence caused the crash in the first place. It was concluded that information regarding whether someone had been wearing their seat belt was irrelevant, and therefore should not be provided in an accident claim. However, this 40-year practice was reversed in 2015 after an accident that involved eight plaintiffs suing a truck that knocked their car off the road, causing injuries and one death. In this case, the truck company wanted to reduce their liability by introducing evidence that seven of the eight plaintiffs were not wearing their seat belts.

The court found the following:

  • The court can determine to what extent the lack of wearing a seat belt resulted in the damages sustained in an accident
  • Passengers can be partially responsible for their injuries if they were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident
  • Therefore the defense must be allowed to introduce on their behalf the fact that seat belts weren’t worn

The Modified Comparative Negligence System Can Affect Your Case

If you are injured in a car accident that was caused by another person, you can seek damages in order to help you recover. The modified comparative negligence process used by Texas courts will assess to what extent you are also responsible for your injuries, and your compensation award will be reduced by that amount. For example, if the court finds that you hold 15 percent of responsibility for your injuries since you failed to wear a seat belt, and they believe that your compensation should be $100,000, you will be only paid $85,000 after the 15 percent reduction.

It’s hard to say what percentage of responsibility for your own injuries will be assigned to you for your failure to wear a seat belt, or for any other safety precaution that you failed to take. A skilled Houston car accident lawyer can help the court understand that even if you failed to wear a seat belt, it was the other party’s recklessness that caused the crash, and they should be primarily responsible. Texas’ comparative negligence rules are as follows:

  • If you were not at all negligent in your accident, you will be awarded the full sum of damages that the court determines should be paid
  • If you share some negligence in your accident, but it is determined to be less than 51 percent of total responsibility, your award will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility that you were determined to have
  • If it is found that your share of responsibility for the accident was 51 percent or higher, you will not be allowed to recover damages

A Houston Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

You may be out of work and have huge medical bills after a car accident caused by the carelessness of another driver. Recovering compensation will be very important for you and your family, and you may be wondering if you can recover anything due to the fact that you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the wreck. While Texas’ modified comparative negligence law might place limits on what you can recover given the details of your case, it does allow for you to file a claim for damages. Contact a Houston car accident lawyer at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible after being in a bad car accident.

To speak with an experienced attorney today, contact us at (281) 283-8500.