Does Wearing a Seat Belt in a Car Accident Make a Difference?
For many people, putting on a seat belt is an automatic thing. The Florida Times-Union reported seat belt usage rose in 2010 to a record 87.4%. The increase in seat belt usage is reflected in a sharp drop in auto accident deaths . In 2007, there were 65 car accident related deaths in a three county area of Florida. By 2010 this number had dropped to 35 with 27 of those not wearing a seat belt in the same Florida counties.
As a car accident attorney in Tampa, I know how important it is to wear a seat belt. Lt. Bill Leeper of the Florida Highway Patrol is absolutely correct in saying, “One of the easiest things motorists can do is buckle up. And it really does save lives.” Furthermore, Florida law requires the driver, all front seat passengers and all passengers under 18 to wear a seat belt whenever they ride in a motor vehicle. In a personal injury lawsuit, this law can be used by the defense to argue that an injured person negligently helped cause their injuries by failing to where their seat belt. They can do this because there is medical literature showing that failing to wear a seat belt increases your chance of injury.
For example, wearing a seat belt keeps you from being thrown from the vehicle in a car crash. Being thrown increases your chance of dying by 5. Seat belts also keep you from being thrown around in the car, reducing the chance of serious injuries.
Prior to 2009 police officers had to have another reason to stop you, but today can pull you over just for not wearing a seat belt.