An experienced attorney who enlists experts may be able to help
If you were injured in an accident while not wearing your seatbelt, you may think you're out of luck. An insurance company may deny your claim because you didn't take practical steps to protect yourself, and if it's clear that you weren't wearing a seatbelt, it's tough to argue that claim. Many attorneys may refuse to take your case because they believe it's unwinnable, leaving you stuck with medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.
The truth is that while not wearing a seatbelt certainly won't help your case, it may not mean you're unable to recover financial compensation. Seatbelts do prevent some injuries, but they aren't perfect. There are some injuries that seatbelts actually cause and others that they can't stop.
In one recent case, attorney David Glatthorn represented a man who had suffered a debilitating brain injury while not wearing his seatbelt. At least two other lawyers had turned down his case, saying that the seatbelt would have prevented the injury. However, attorney Glatthorn looked closely at the photographs of the accident scene and enlisted the help of a seatbelt expert. The expert's analysis revealed that due to the angle of impact, this man would have hit his head the same way regardless of whether he was wearing a seatbelt or not - and he won his case.
Every case is unique and safety equipment isn't perfect
Over the years, we've successfully represented motorists and passengers who weren't wearing seatbelts, motorcyclists who weren't wearing helmets and others who did not use safety equipment prior to their accidents. When assessing a new case, we look at the whole picture instead of dismissing it out of hand because of one detail.
Lack of safety equipment is certainly a factor, but there are some accidents where it doesn't particularly matter. For instance, a motorcyclist who wasn't wearing a helmet might suffer road rash or a back injury that the helmet would not have prevented.
Even in cases where not wearing a seatbelt plays a role, you may still have the right to recover damages. Florida uses a legal standard called pure comparative negligence, which means that any financial compensation you are awarded can be reduced by your percentage of fault for the injury.
For example, if a court finds that your injuries were 40 percent due to your own failure to wear a seatbelt and 60 percent due to another motorist's negligence, you could still be awarded compensation - it would just be reduced by 40 percent. In fact, even if you're more than 50 percent at fault, you can still recover some compensation under Florida law.
If you've been hurt in an accident and you weren't wearing your seatbelt, don't give up hope. With an experienced attorney on your side, you may still be able to recover the compensation you need.