Why Not Wearing a Seat Belt Decreases the Value of Your Claim

Since the mainstream adoption of seat belts in the 1980s, driving has become a much safer activity. Seat belts reduce the risk of injury by 50 percent and reduce the risk of dying in a car crash by 45 percent, according to Driver Knowledge. However, despite the increase in safety without any real side effects, one in 10 people across the country choose to forgo a seat belt when they drive. While seat belt use has increased prolifically here in Missouri over the last few decades, with just 60 percent of occupants using seat belts in 1998 and now 87 percent of occupants using seat belts in 2018, our state is still behind the national average, according to the Federal Highway Administration Missouri Division. Pickup truck occupants have the lowest seatbelt usage of any type of passenger vehicle, with just 71 percent of Missouri occupants using seat belts.


Calculating the Value of Your Claim in Missouri

The value of a personal injury auto claim depends on a variety of factors, particularly the “damages” that the victim, who did not cause the crash, suffers. These damages include hospital bills, pain, and suffering, lost wages, property damage, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, and much more. The more severe the damages, the more the plaintiff can receive in compensation. However, there are a few circumstances in which the victim’s compensation will be decreased because they had a hand in causing the damages. One includes comparative negligence—if the plaintiff had a hand in causing the crash, such as speeding, their compensation will be decreased by their degree of fault. Another instance in which the plaintiff’s compensation will not match up with their damages is when they failed to wear a seat belt.


Missouri will hold you Liable for Many of Your Own Injuries

Seat belts are known to save lives and substantially reduce the likelihood or severity of injuries. Countless studies have proven this, and all cars must be equipped with seat belts. All new cars are also required to have airbags—another feature that drastically improves safety. When an occupant chooses to leave their seat belt off when they drive or are a passenger, the injuries they sustain in a crash can be deemed their own fault.

For example, if you were driving along a highway road going the speed limit and doing everything correctly, and a texting driver drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic and plowed into you head-on, ejecting you from the vehicle and causing massive brain trauma, the other party’s insurance company could argue that, had you been wearing a seat belt, your injuries would have been substantially less severe. They may only pay you for the estimated injuries that you would have received had you been wearing a seatbelt. Moreover, you will also not be able to collect as much compensation for lost wages, pain, and suffering, and emotional distress—all damages that would have been far less had you not been ejected due to seat belt use.


Call a Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer Today

f you were involved in a traffic collision, you need experienced legal assistance. Our Kansas City auto accident attorneys will help you receive fair and complete compensation for your injuries and other damages. Call the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm at 816-399-3356 to schedule a free consultation today.

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