Can Not Wearing a Seat Belt Affect Your Car Crash Claim?

not wearing a seat belt in a car accidentIn Wisconsin, all drivers and most passengers must wear seat belts. Wearing a seat belt routinely and properly is one of the most effective ways to help prevent serious injury in a car accident. But what happens when you become injured in a crash while not wearing a seat belt? Find out how failing to buckle up could affect your potential claim and your ability to pursue compensation for your damages.

Our Appleton car accident lawyers are here to help every step of the way. If you have a valid claim, we are ready to advocate for your rights and protect your best interests. Our initial consultations are free.

Wisconsin’s Seat Belt Law

Under state law, any vehicle bought, sold, leased or traded is legally required to have proper working seat belts. Drivers and passengers over the age of four must be buckled in when a vehicle is in motion.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Seat belt use is generally not required in certain emergency vehicles, if a vehicle makes at least ten stops per mile that require the driver to frequently enter and exit the vehicle, or if someone has a medical condition that prevents him or her from wearing a seat belt.

It is important to note that this seat belt law applies to anyone operating a vehicle in the state. It is not exclusive to Wisconsin residents. You are expected to comply even if traveling from out of state.

What About Younger Children?

Children under the age of four must be properly restrained in a child safety seat in accordance with the state’s car seat law. Children must use a car seat until they are four years old and at least 40 pounds or use a booster seat until they are eight years old, at least 80 pounds, or taller than four feet nine inches. 

Failure to Wear a Seat Belt

Wisconsin’s seat belt law holds primary enforcement, which means that police officers can pull drivers over and issue tickets and fines for failing to wear a seat belt, without another traffic offense happening.

The fine is $10 and no points are assigned to your driving record. The fine can increase if there is a child under four years old or between the ages of four and eight years old found unrestrained in the vehicle. Multiple offenses could reflect poorly on your driving record and impact your insurance coverage.

Contributory Negligence in Car Accident Cases

Evidence of your failure to comply with state law on wearing a seat belt can be admitted in a civil action for personal injury or property damage. Even if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time the crash happened, you may still be able to pursue compensation in a car accident claim. Under state law, your failure to wear a seat belt cannot reduce the value of your claim by more than 15 percent, and your claim cannot be thrown out because you failed to wear a seatbelt.  

It is important to be aware that the other side’s insurance company will likely attempt to argue that not wearing a seat belt was the primary reason for you being injured and that you should be financially responsible for your own injuries. An insurance adjuster may say that had you been buckled in, perhaps you would not have been as seriously hurt. He or she will do anything to discredit you in an effort to reduce compensation. This is why it is in your best interest to have an experienced lawyer by your side.

Learn More About Your Legal Options

If you have been injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our lawyers at Sigman Jansen as soon as possible for help with your claim. You may be eligible for various forms of compensation.

Find out what legal options may be available to you in a free consultation. We charge no upfront fees should we represent you and only collect payment if you obtain a recovery via a settlement or verdict.

Our phone lines are open 24/7. (920) 335-1394.