Car crash victims who weren't wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident often wonder if Indiana's seat belt and comparative fault laws prevent them from filing a personal injury lawsuit, or damage their chances of receiving compensation for injuries and other losses.
Fortunately for accident victims, this isn't the case.
Indiana is one of more than a dozen states that require vehicle occupants in both the front and rear seats to a wear a seat belt while the car is in motion, or risk facing a fine. Indiana's seat belt law applies to adult drivers and passengers age 16 and older (infant and young children must be restrained in an approved child seat) and, as a primary law, means that law enforcement officers can stop vehicles to check for compliance, even if no other traffic infraction was observed.
Indiana is also a comparative fault state. This means that even if a victim is partially (50 percent or less) responsible for his injury, it's still possible to receive compensation in a personal injury case. However, a victim's financial recovery could potentially be reduced commensurate with the degree of fault. For example, if a plaintiff's damages totaled $100,000, but he was found 20 percent at fault for the accident, he may only be awarded $80,000.
The good news is that accident victims who are worried that these laws may negatively affect their personal injury lawsuits can breathe a sigh of relief. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in 2015 that civil defense attorneys can't introduce a plaintiff's failure to wear a seat belt as proof of comparable or contributory negligence in personal injury cases.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent motorist, experienced personal injury lawyer Randy Sevenish can help you pursue the financial award you deserve. And, if you weren't wearing your seat belt at the time of the crash, Sevenish will work to ensure that the other side doesn't try to use that as an excuse for offering you an unfair settlement.
Contact Sevenish Law today to schedule a free initial case consultation. In the meantime, request a copy of our free car accident guide, Indiana Crash Book, for additional information.