Can I Get Insurance Money If I Wasn’t Wearing A Seat Belt?

Everyone knows that wearing a seat belt is very important to protect yourself from being seriously injured in a car accident.  In fact, in 2016, 48% of all fatalities in auto accidents were caused by people not wearing seat belts.  But, sometimes, people get busy and forget to buckle up.  Our clients often ask whether they can still get insurance money if they were not wearing a seat belt.

What Does Virginia Law Say?

Virginia law requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear a seat belt when traveling in a car.  Even though the law requires that seat belts be worn, the same law also says that the fact that someone was not wearing a seat belt is not admissible as evidence at trial.  Basically, this means that the fact that someone wasn’t wearing a seat belt in an accident can’t be brought up at trial.

But, if you are trying to settle your case, an insurance adjuster might try to lower the value of your case if you weren’t wearing a seat belt.  Often, they will do this regardless of whether they are aware of the Virginia law saying that not wearing your seat belt is not admissible.  So, what does all of this mean?

What Does All Of This Mean?

This means you should still pursue an insurance claim if you suffered serous injuries in a car accident and, weren’t wearing a seat belt.  But, because the insurance adjuster will probably try to devalue your case because you weren’t wearing your seat belt, it will be important for you to talk to a lawyer before you talk to an insurance adjuster or sign any documents.

Even though not wearing a seat belt can’t be used against you in court if you are in a crash. that shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to wear one.  It’s always a good idea to buckle up and encourage your passengers to wear their seat belts too.

Recently in our area, there have been several accidents where drivers or passengers who were not wearing seat belts were seriously injured.  On April 16 around 9:20 p.m., a 2006 Dodge Ram was traveling north on Peake Mountain Road in Rockingham County when it attempted to pass a northbound 2001 Chevy Silverado at a high rate of speed. The Dodge hit the Chevy, ran off the right side of the roadway, overturned several times, and struck several trees.

The driver of the Dodge, Tyler W. Custer, 21, of Fulks Run, Va., was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. Derika Crites, 18, of Maysville, WV., was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle and later died of her injuries.

 

How Long Can I Wait to Call a Lawyer?

When you’re injured in an auto accident in Virginia, you must be aware of the statute of limitations which applies in your particular case. The statute of limitations refers to the time you have following an accident to file a lawsuit.  In Virginia, this time limit depends upon the circumstances of your accident and injury.  The time limitation starts to run on the date of the accident.  Filing a claim with an insurance company does not extend or delay the time.

The longer you wait to contact an attorney, the greater the risk that the statute of limitations time limit will expire. If it does, you may lose your right to sue the at-fault party and recover compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been seriously injured and someone else is at fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney at the earliest possible time.  Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer early in your case will help prevent deadlines from expiring and will allow your case to be properly prepared.

To be able to determine whether you have a case, your lawyer needs to thoroughly investigate the details about your accident and injuries. Investigating the accident and collecting information is much easier if it occurs quickly after the accident has happened. A time delay can result in many problems like lost evidence and witnesses who can’t be found.

When you hire a lawyer to handle your car accident claim, he or she will first negotiate with the insurance company to try to settle your claim. If settlement negotiations break down, your attorney will prepare to file a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial. For this reason, it is especially important that you get an experienced lawyer to help with your case, such as one certified through the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Talk with a Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a car accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at

800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.