Wearing your seat belt is required by law and has been since 1968 when the Motor Vehicle Safety Standard was passed, enforcing all car manufacturers to build seat belts into their vehicles. That being said, driving without one on is reckless and can lead to serious injuries.
At the Cardone Law Firm, it is not our aim to point the finger at anyone’s mistakes. Instead, we aim to share over 40 years of knowledge with you about car or truck accidents. Even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, that does not mean that you completely forfeit your right to compensation.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a crash and weren’t wearing your seat belt, read the following to consider what you can do to reap the compensation you deserve.
Seat Belt Laws in Louisiana
As said before, wearing your seat belt is required by law in the state of Louisiana. This applies to everyone unless granted exemption because of disability, the type of work you are performing, or the type of vehicle you are driving.
Fines abound for any driver that refuses or forgets to wear his or her seat belt. The first offense for failing to wear a seat belt is $25, which is then bumped up to $50 for the second and any subsequent offenses. In the Orleans Parish, however, an additional fee of $20 is assessed for any violations.
Louisiana is a Comparative Negligence State
In the state of Louisiana, drivers are allowed to collect damages, even if they are partially at fault. The state is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that when an accident occurs, the fault or negligence of each driver—or party—involved is based on their respective contributions to the cause of the accident.
If you are involved in a crash where you happened to not be wearing a seat belt, applicable fees will certainly be applied for violating seat belt laws. Bad news aside, since Louisiana is considered a comparative negligence state, failure to wear a seat belt is not considered comparative negligence.
While it comes as no surprise that driving without a seat belt can cause numerous injuries, your ability to receive compensation for your crash is not affected because you failed to wear one. It is worth noting, however, that violating other traffics laws like speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield while not wearing a seat belt could potentially reduce your compensation.
Take into consideration that Louisiana is an “at-fault” state as well, and as such, Louisiana law requires auto insurance companies of the driver at-fault to pay for all of the damages caused by the accident. It goes without saying that the driver-at-fault’s insurance company will fight tooth and nail to discredit and prove that most of the blame lies on you, especially if you weren’t wearing a seat belt.
What Does That All Mean for You?
If you are involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, where you had forgotten, or neglected, to buckle your seat belt, you will be fined in accordance to the times you have violated the seat belt law.
But thankfully, when the courts establish who was at fault, you not wearing a seat belt will not affect your ability to seek compensation, nor will it cause any reductions to the total recovery received unless other violations occurred.
You should seek representation well versed in car accidents and Louisiana traffic safety law.
Your voice matters. Don’t shy away from recovery you deserve because you did not have a seatbelt on during your auto accident.
Medical bills can pile up, property damages will be costly, and rehabilitation isn’t cheap. You need compensation to help you cover these expenses. Don’t be embarrassed to file your claim if you weren’t wearing a seat belt.
Phone Cardone today, and speak with Cliff Cardone or Hannah Salter, two of New Orleans’ finest auto accident attorneys. Cardone Law Firm has experience and legal expertise to guide you during this dark hour.