You may have heard a lot lately about the seat belt defense in car accident claims. This is because some states allow defendants in car accident lawsuits to use the safety belt defense to try to lower the amount of money the insurance company must pay for the claim. Louisiana has decided not to adopt this defense and has adopted specific laws that prohibit defendants from using this defense in court.
If you have been injured in a traffic accident, our attorneys can help sort out questions of fault to protect your right to recover compensation for your injuries. Call (504) 587-1440 or 1-800-587-1889 for a free consultation with a New Orleans car accident attorney.
What is the Seat Belt Defense?
In the case of a traffic accident, the defendant argues that a failure to wear a safety restraint is a lack of due care. In other words, you should have taken the step of protecting yourself by wearing your safety belt. Therefore, the defendant should not be required to pay all your damages because you were partially at fault for your injuries.
Under comparative negligence laws, your compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for not buckling up. In other words, if the jury says you are 20 percent responsible for the severity of your injuries because you did not wear a seat belt, your compensation is reduced by 20 percent. Louisiana does not recognize the legal theory of a seat belt defense.
What is Louisiana’s Law Regarding Comparative Negligence and Seat Belts?
Louisiana has a mandatory seat belt law that requires occupants in a motor vehicle to buckle up when the vehicle is in motion. Violating the seat belt law can result in a fine. However, the code section specifically exempts a defendant of using evidence of non-use of a seat belt to mitigate damages. The code section states in part that “a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence.”
In other words, another driver cannot claim that you are not entitled to receive full compensation for your damages because you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the collision. This does not mean that insurance adjusters won’t try to use this argument with you to lower the amount of money the company pays to settle your claim, especially if you are not represented by an attorney. An insurance adjuster is not going to tell you that the law prohibits this type of defense. You need an attorney on your side who knows the law and who will fight for you right to full compensation for your injuries.
Call a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney for Help
Dealing with an insurance adjuster can be very stressful, especially if you are trying to recover from an injury and the adjuster is pushing you to provide information or settle the claim. Our New Orleans accident attorneys can lessen your stress by dealing with the adjuster for you.
Call Attorney Fred Olinde of The Olinde Firm at (504) 587-1440 or 1-800-587-1889 to request a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you with your car accident claim.