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Failing To Wear Your Seatbelt Affects Your Personal Injury Case

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How Does Failing to Wear Your Seatbelt Affect Your Personal Injury Case

By: Heath C. Murphy +Car Accidents

Almost everyone wears their seatbelts these days. It has become second nature to almost all drivers. As of today, there are 49 states that have enacted laws requiring motorists to wear seatbelts. New Hampshire is the lone hold out and even it requires drivers and passengers under the age of 18 to utilize a seatbelt. Some states, Florida included, do not require adult passengers in the back seat to wear seatbelts, but it is undeniable that most people now strap in automatically whenever they get into a vehicle.

What is the Florida Safety Belt Law?

Florida law requires that all motorists occupying the front seat of any motor vehicle in Florida to utilized seatbelts.[1] The law also states,

A violation of the provisions of this section shall not constitute negligence per se, nor shall such violation be used as prima facie evidence of negligence or be considered in mitigation of damages, but such violation may be considered as evidence of comparative negligence, in any civil action.

This means that in the event that an unseatbelted driver is involved in a car accident which is otherwise not the fault of the unseatbelted driver, the at fault driver will raise a defense stating, that the failure to use the seatbelt either were the complete or partial cause of the driver’s injuries.

How Does the Defense of Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Affect My Personal Injury Case

This issue though long ago settled, still comes before Florida Courts in various forms. In Jones v. Alayon, the deceased driver was rear ended by an off duty police officer who fled the scene.[2] The off duty police officer then reported his car stolen. Testimony was heard that the deceased driver always wore his seatbelt, however, during the accident the deceased was ejected from the vehicle during the crash which seemed to indicate that he was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident. Furthermore, the investigating officer stated that the clasp mechanism had coins or another obstruction preventing the deceased from using the seatbelt at the time of the accident.

The jury was never permitted to hear that the driver of the other car was an off duty police officer or that he had fled the scene of the crash. It was deemed to be too prejudicial for the jury to hear. However, the jury did hear that the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt and he likely died when he struck the road or when other cars struck him during his ejection from the vehicle. The jury found that the deceased was 70% at fault for his injuries and the other driver only 30% at fault. The jury returned with a verdict of a little more than $300,000 in damages which due to the apportionment of fault were reduced by 70%. Ultimately, the deceased’s family was awarded a little less than $100,000 in damages relating to the death of their husband/father.

Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer at Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash caused by the negligence of another, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707



[1] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.614.html

[2] http://www.4dca.org/opinions/April%202015/04-08-15/4D12-4546.op.pdf

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio