Wearing a seatbelt while driving is imperative for any driver or passenger. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that the rate of seatbelt use across the country has climbed to approximately 90%. This has saved lives and prevented victims of motor vehicle accidents from sustaining severe injuries.
However, some drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes may not wear seatbelts. While this may have severe consequences for the victim’s health, it may also raise pertinent issues in relation to the rights of the person in a personal injury claim.
Perhaps you’ve been a car accident victim and didn’t happen to have your seatbelt on at the time. You might worry an insurance company will dispute claims or reduce your settlements because of it.
Understanding South Carolina Seatbelt Laws
In South Carolina, the state’s seat belt laws state that drivers and other passengers are obliged to wear fastened safety belts when the vehicle is on the road. Everyone in a vehicle under 17 years old must be secured.
What’s more, the revised law mandates police officers can ticket people for failure to wear seat belts. However, a seatbelt violation does not result in points against an individual driver’s license and is not reported to the insurance company.
Can You File a Personal Injury Claim If You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
Violating the seat belt law does not bar you from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. South Carolina’s seat belt laws provide that a violation of the provision relating to wearing seatbelts doesn’t constitute negligence or contributory negligence. More importantly, any evidence to this effect is inadmissible in a civil action.
This means that you may file a suit seeking compensation from the at-fault party. The insurance company is also barred from introducing any evidence relating to a seatbelt violation in the lawsuit.
And while seat belt-wearing evidence can’t be used in a suit, the insurance company may refuse to settle, deny your claim or compensate you inadequately for your injuries. For this reason, you need to hire a personal injury attorney who will handle your case.
Can You Receive Compensation Even If You Didn’t Wear a Seatbelt?
South Carolina uses a comparative negligence system. Under this system, a claimant can be assigned fault if they contributed to the accident. This means that the amount of compensation will be reduced based on your share of fault. However, if a jury determines that you were 51 percent or more at fault for the accident, you may not be eligible to receive compensation.
Even so, a violation of South Carolina seatbelt laws can’t be interpreted to mean that the victim was at fault, even if the violation heightened the risk of accident and injury. This is because such evidence is inadmissible in the suit and can’t be relied upon.
Ultimately, you can’t be excluded from seeking compensation if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. A knowledgeable attorney at Elrod Pope Law Firm can help safeguard your rights.
Contact a Car Accident Injury Attorney
Suppose you or your loved one sustained an injury due to a motor vehicle accident and were not wearing a seatbelt. In that case, you may still be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
Our attorneys will work hard to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
What are the common injuries caused by not wearing a seatbelt in South Carolina?
Not wearing a seatbelt heightens the risk of sustaining severe injuries like:
- Broken ribs
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding
What should you do after a car crash in South Carolina?
Following a car accident, you should:
- Report the accident to the police
- Take photos and document the scene
- Exchange information with any witnesses or the driver involved
- Don’t admit fault
- Contact an attorney