When you were young, you were probably reminded by your mom to put on your seatbelt more times than you can count: first thing, every single time you get in a car. For many of us, we don’t even think twice before buckling up – it’s become second nature. The possibility of an actual car accident may not even cross your mind. Better safe than sorry.
Against what anyone would recommend, some of us still forget to put on our seatbelts sometimes. Some people don’t buckle up when running a quick errand, or just going around the corner. Worse still, there are many drivers in Louisiana who get on the highway with no seatbelts on at all. If you read the news regularly, you’ll often come across news of vehicular deaths in which some or all of the victims weren’t wearing seatbelts. Since we know that not wearing a seatbelt is, to put it mildly, risky, how does it affect a victim in a personal injury lawsuit?
Are you any less a victim if you forgot to wear your seatbelt?
According to Louisiana law, simply put, no, you’re not.
Louisiana RS 32:295.1(e) states:
"In any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence. Failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be admitted to mitigate damages."
This means that insurance companies should not use your failure to wear your seatbelt against you in court. They can’t admit your failure to wear your seatbelt as evidence against you, and they cannot attempt to adjust your amount in damages accordingly.
There are lots of possible reasons that seatbelts aren’t a consideration in car accident cases in Louisiana. After an accident, it’s nearly impossible to consider or contemplate all of the “what-ifs” if someone did or didn’t wear a seatbelt. While it’s certainly better to wear one, the restriction of the seatbelt at the time of impact may actually cause an injury to the victim.
If you’ve been in a car accident, and especially if you've suffered an injury, know that the individual attention of a qualified and educated attorney is an extremely helpful tool in the personal injury litigation process in Louisiana.