If I Didn’t Wear a Seatbelt, Can I Still Sue for Accident Injuries?

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People go about their daily lives without considering how their behaviors could affect the rest of their lives. When driving, it’s common for some people not to wear their seatbelts, but can you still receive compensation if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt?

David Aylor Law Offices wants you to know that wearing a seatbelt or not can affect your compensation in the event of an accident. Contact our South Carolina car accident attorneys to review your case.

What are South Carolina’s Seatbelt Laws for Adults?

Unlike other states, South Carolina requires the driver and every passenger in the vehicle to wear a seatbelt. The driver also is responsible for the safety of any passenger below the age of 17, and they can be fined if a minor in their vehicle does not wear a seatbelt.

Before 2005, the seatbelt law was secondary. The police officer could only give a ticket for not abiding by the seatbelt law if you had already been stopped for another violation. Today, it is a primary enforcement, and the police officer can pull you over if any passenger does not appear wearing a seatbelt and fine you for violating the law.

How Lack of Seatbelt Can Heighten Injury Risk

If passengers and drivers wear a seatbelt, the risk of being killed in an accident is significantly lowered.

Wearing a seatbelt can reduce the chances of severe injuries and deaths because:

  • A seatbelt keeps you in a secure position: If your car skids or spins, the seatbelt will keep you in the right position to control your car. Without a seatbelt, you are more likely to lose control of the vehicle and crash.
  • It prevents you from being ejected: Ejection during a rollover or head-on collision is reduced when wearing a seatbelt, thus decreasing the likelihood of a fatality.
  • It distributes the impact force during the accident: The lap and shoulder belt will ensure that the force of the impact is distributed to the strongest parts of your body.
  • A seatbelt secures you to your seat: With no seatbelt in a car accident, you will continue to move after a crash and hit the steering wheel, side window, and dashboard.
  • Your seatbelt also protects the brain and spine: Brain and spine injuries are the most fatal and devastating. Your seatbelt can prevent such injuries by keeping you at the right location.

How Does Lack of Seatbelt Affect Compensation for Accident Injuries?

In some states, there is a defense to personal injury litigation known as the seatbelt defense. In these states, the seatbelt defense can reduce the amount you can recover from damages if you did not wear a seatbelt during the accident.

In other states, the seatbelt defense is not applicable. You cannot be denied your full compensation because you did not wear a seatbelt.

Is it Comparative/Contributory Negligence to Not Wear a Seatbelt in South Carolina?

No, the laws in SC make it clear that failure to wear a seatbelt is neither comparative nor contributory negligence. It is also expressly stated that a seatbelt law violation is not admissible as evidence in a civil action, making it impossible to use it for any purpose during the civil action.

It Is Not Negligence Per Se in South Carolina If You Don’t Wear a Seatbelt

South Carolina seatbelt laws state that failure to wear a seatbelt is not negligence per se. In many car accident situations, violating any traffic law or statute would be considered negligence per se. The statute makes a lack of a seatbelt during a crash inadmissible in a civil action and cannot be used as evidence for negligence, or be the basis for a negligence claim.

All You Need to Know About Personal Injury in SC

In South Carolina, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the person at-fault within three years from the time of the injury. But you must file it as soon as possible when you can still collect evidence and find witnesses. If you decide to solve the case outside the court, ensure that it is settled within three years. After three years, the insurance company or the person at fault may decide not to pay because you cannot legally sue them.

Dealing with Insurance Companies After Car Accidents in SC

The reporting requirements are different for each auto insurance company. The amount of time you have will depend on the time limit specified by the insurance company. Look up for any applicable deadlines to ensure that you are awarded.

When to File a Civil Action for a Car Accident

Sometimes recovering funds for your damages outside the court might be challenging. The insurance company or the responsible party may delay the compensation process for their benefit. In search instances, you should consider filing a civil action immediately. Many people find it necessary to file civil action when:

  • The insurance company is delaying or denying the claim or refusing to make a fair offer.
  • The responsible party does not want to disclose information about their insurance company, preventing you from filing your claim.
  • You cannot recover your damages beyond the responsible party’s insurance limits.

Contact David Aylor Law Offices to Fight the Seatbelt Defense

Injuries sustained during an accident can be devastating. If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt when you were involved in an accident, you could still receive compensation. Contact David Aylor Law Offices today to schedule your case evaluation.

Car Accident Case FAQs

Do I need to go to court if I file a personal injury lawsuit?

After filing your injury lawsuit, you may go to court. But the chances are low since many lawsuits related to personal injury are settled outside court.

What types of damages can I seek if I file a personal injury lawsuit?

You may seek economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages include monetary loss such as unemployment resulting from injury, lost wages, and hospital bills, among other expenses. Non-economic include non-monetary such as emotional distress and mental anguish.

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