Seatbelts and Comparative Negligence in SC

| Jan 12, 2018 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

The statistics don’t lie: You are far more likely to survive a car accident if you are wearing your seatbelt. But about 15 percent of people still don’t strap themselves in.

If you’re the kind of daredevil who isn’t motivated by a fear of death, here’s another reason to buckle up – it can save you money.

If you file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, you may be entitled to less money if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt.

Why Don’t People Wear Seatbelts?

Maybe some folks just don’t care. But usually, people who don’t buckle up have bought into one or more of these common myths.

  • It’s nobody else’s business! This is not true. Wearing a seatbelt doesn’t only protect you – it protects everyone in the car with you. Seatbelts help you maintain control of your body during a crash, and they keep you from flying around the inside of the car.
  • Seatbelts don’t make much difference. They do. Seatbelts save about 14,000 lives in the U.S. every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • My seatbelt will trap me in a burning car! This is just bad logic. Seatbelts are designed to prevent you from getting knocked unconscious. Your odds of maintaining consciousness are much higher if you’re buckled up. And you are certainly more likely to escape a wrecked vehicle if you are conscious than if you are knocked out cold.
  • I’d rather be thrown clear of the car. No, you wouldn’t. You are four times more likely to die if you are thrown from the vehicle than if you remain strapped in your seat.

So, forget about these dangerous myths. Seatbelts really do save lives. And, of course, the law requires you to buckle up.

But what difference do seatbelts make when it comes to personal injury lawsuits?

Seatbelts and the SC Comparative Negligence Rule

If you file a personal injury suit after a car accident, the amount you can collect – and whether you can collect at all – is determined by what percentage of fault for the accident is assigned to you.

During the trial, your attorney calls witnesses and makes arguments, and the defendant’s attorney does the same. Then the jury takes all that information, divvies up the blame, and applies the comparative negligence rule.

If you are determined to be 51 percent or more at fault, then you cannot receive any damages.

If you are 50 percent or less at fault, then your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of fault you are assigned in the accident.

So, if you were 30 percent at fault and you received a $100,000 settlement, you would only get 70 percent of that amount, or $70,000.

Got Axelrod?

Failing to wear your seatbelt doesn’t mean you can’t file a personal injury claim, or that you can’t collect damages. But, the other driver’s attorney will argue that at least some of your injuries are the result of your failure to wear your seatbelt – in other words, some of the fault belongs to you and not the other driver. This can affect how much compensation you receive.

Your Myrtle Beach auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to determine who was at fault and whether the SC comparative negligence rule will affect your case. Call us at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form today to set up a free consultation.


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