Car insurance companies and at-fault drivers will look for any reason to avoid liability for the damages you suffered in a crash. For example, not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident is likely to be used against you to try to underpay or even deny your claim.
This strategy is known as the seat belt defense, and the at-fault party may be able to use it against you. However, it is important to understand what Louisiana law says about evidence of seat belt use in an auto accident claim. The law was changed in 2021 in a significant way.
If you were injured in a car crash caused by another driver and you were not wearing your seat belt, you should contact an experienced attorney to review your legal options. Galloway Jefcoat’s Lafayette auto accident lawyers have been representing car crash victims for more than 25 years, and we have secured millions on behalf of our clients.
Louisiana Law on the Seat Belt Defense
Under Louisiana law, you are required to wear a seat belt when your vehicle is in motion. This requirement also applies to other occupants of vehicles that are in motion.
Up until 2021, state law prohibited a violation of Louisiana’s mandatory seat belt law from being used as evidence of comparative negligence. In other words, if you did not wear a seat belt in a crash, and your case goes to court, the other side cannot present this as a reason to devalue or deny your claim.
Louisiana has a comparative fault law that says your percentage of fault will be deducted from your compensation award. In other words, if you are 20 percent to blame, your compensation award will be reduced by 20 percent.
Before the law was changed, not wearing a seat belt could not be used to devalue your claim under the comparative fault system.
However, as of 2021, defendants in a court case are allowed to bring this up to a jury or judge. That means not wearing a seat belt could impact the value of your claim, unlike some states that prohibit the seat belt defense from being used against you.
Although the law applies to court cases, you can be sure the insurance company will bring it up when you file a claim for compensation.
How Not Buckling Up Could Hurt Your Claim
The argument the defense will use to try to deny or devalue your claim is that you would not have been injured, or your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing a seat belt. In other words, you were more likely to be injured so the value of your claim should be reduced.
This can be a difficult argument to counter, which is why you need a licensed attorney representing you. He or she can review your injuries and determine how they may have been less severe if you had been wearing a seat belt.
The attorneys at Galloway Jefcoat have the resources to counter the seat belt defense. For example, we are ready to bring in experts to show the true impact a seat belt would have likely had on your injuries.
The bottom line is that drivers need to make sure to wear their seat belts. Not only can a seat belt help save your life and prevent serious injury in a crash, it can also protect the value of your claim for compensation.
According to statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts reduce the risk of death for front-seat passengers by 45 percent. Seat belts also cut the risk of severe injury by 50 percent.
Call Today for Help with Your Claim
You should not count on the insurance company to take care of you after getting injured in a car crash. They will be looking for any reason to either deny your claim or offer less than what it is worth.
You need a strong advocate who will be looking out for your best interests. At Galloway Jefcoat, we are committed to seeking full compensation for your injuries and damages. We are prepared for the insurance company’s attempts to deny or undervalue your claim because we have been obtaining compensation from insurance companies for more than two decades.
Galloway Jefcoat. A Law Firm You Can Trust. Call (337) 984-8020.