Did Not Wear Seatbelt

Auto Collision No Seatbelt - How Will this Affect My Case?
Personal injury lawyers will often come across legal issues that will need to be navigated in order to attempt to obtain a settlement for their clients. Our attorneys have done work all over Texas and as Dallas personal injury lawyer / lawyers for thousands of clients over the years, helping to determine the rights of those injured in automobile accident cases.

Typically, whether you are wearing a seatbelt or not does not come into evidence in a personal injury case. This does not mean that the adjuster will not try to use this against you in negotiations, but it does mean that if push comes to shove and we take the case to trial, it is unlikely that the evidence of whether you had a seatbelt on or not will come into trial.

The following arguments are the ones defense lawyers typically use to try and get the evidence in. I’ll explain why those arguments do not allow the evidence of use or non-use of a seatbelt comes into evidence.

Contributory Negligence argument: An insurance company’s lawyer or defendant’s attorney might try to get the evidence in to show the injured plaintiff had “contributory negligence”. The problem with using this theory is that contributory negligence goes to the cause of the accident. In other words, but for the conduct complained of, the accident would not have happened. Negligent actions that merely increase or add to the extent of loss or injury caused by someone elses negligence is not contributory negligence that defeats a person’s ability to recover from a defendant.

The Texas courts explained the reasoning well in a DWI manslaughter case. The defendant (drunk driver) had killed someone in another vehicle when he caused the accident. The defendant’s lawyer was trying to argue “contributory negligence” by arguing that the decedent caused their own death by not wearing their seatbelt. The court rejected this argument and said that “failure to wear a seatbelt alone was not sufficient to cause the decedants death. The death would not have occurred without the defendant driver’s conduct in how they drove. Torres v. State, 2000 Tex. App LEXIS 5413 at *14-15 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi 2000, no pet.) (unpublished).

Contributory negligence goes to the proximate cause of the original accident itself.

Failure to Mitigate argument: Many insurance lawyers or defense attorneys will try to argue that the injured person “failed to mitigate” their damages by not wearing a seatbelt. This means you did not attempt to keep your damages to a minimum (which is typically required - you can’t just sit back and let your damages go out of control if you have some ability to control the costs).

Texas courts have rejected this argument when it comes to failing to wear a seatbelt. A failure to mitigate defense does not allow in conduct that occurred before the defendant’s wrongful conduct. Not wearing the seatbelt occurs before the defendant’s wrongful conduct that causes the accident. In other words, a person cannot mitigate damages before they ever occur. So this defense is not available to no seatbelt cases.

Failure to mitigate goes to the injured party’s actions after he has been injured and how he tries to keep those damages to a minimum. It does not go to the actions taken before the injury occurs (the failure to put on a seatbelt).

Damages Often Recoverable in Personal Injury Cases Include the Following:
Past and future medical bills, past and future lost earning capacity, past and future lost income, past and future physical impairment, past and future disfigurement, past and future mental anguish, past and future pain and suffering, property damage, loss of use of your property - such as rental car bills, storage, total loss of property, diminished value of property, loss of body member (arm, leg, . . .), loss of body capacity (hearing, eyesight, . . . ), loss of consortium (spouse, parental, child/filial), loss of services, emotional/mental trauma (bystander injury), prenatal injury, exemplary damages, prejudgment interest, attorney's fees, and court costs.

Contact our Dallas personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. We can be reached at (972) 599 4100.

Personal Injury Areas We Help With Are:

Auto Accident and Injury Cases, Personal Injury Cases, 18 Wheeler & Commercial Vehicle Injury Accident Cases, Motorcycle Accident and Injury Cases, Wrongful Death Cases, Pedestrian Injured by Automobile Cases, Slip and Fall & Premises Cases, Workplace & Constructions Injury Cases, Dog Bite Injury Cases, Bicyclers Hit by Automobile Cases .

Types of Coverage in Automobile Injury Cases:

Automobile Liability Insurance, Uninsured Motorist Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Medpay Insurance, Property Damage & Collision Coverages for Your Auto

By Doug Goyen, douggoyen@gmail.com