Can I Still Recover Damages If I Wasn't Wearing a Seat Belt?
You may even believe that, since you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, you are barred from filing a car accident claim in order to get compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Below, we discuss your ability to recover damages after a car accident in Louisiana if you were not wearing a seat belt.
Seat Belt Gag Law in Louisiana
In the late 1980s, the state of Louisiana passed the seat belt gag law. According to Revised Statute §32:295.1, all drivers are required to wear seat belts when operating motor vehicles. However, “failure to wear a seat belt will not be considered as evidence of negligence in any action to recover financial damages from the at-fault driver or insurance company.”
The law also prevents a jury from being made aware of whether a car accident victim was or was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. According to the statute, this information is deemed irrelevant because it does not impact negligence, liability, or fault determinations. In other words, you will not be held partially liable just because you weren’t wearing a seat belt.
Louisiana No Longer Recognizes the “Seat Belt Defense”
Louisiana operates on a comparative negligence rule. This means that two drivers may be considered partially at fault for a crash, and the injured victim will have their award amount reduced by the percentage of fault they were found to have contributed to the crash. However, the same law above states that “a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence.”
While Louisiana used to allow the use of a “seat belt defense” in car accident cases, it is no longer allowed. The other side may still try to claim that you failed to mitigate your potential injuries by not wearing a seat belt, thus they should not have to pay for the entire extent of your injuries and maximum compensation. Don’t fall for this tactic—instead, call an attorney right away.
Injured in a Car Crash Without a Seat Belt on?
Even if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the crash, you should not be held liable for the negligence or recklessness of another driver. However, that does not mean that the insurance company’s defense team won’t try to use this fact against you and your claim.
Ultimately, you should always retain the services of a seasoned car accident attorney to represent you after being injured in a car. When you choose The Chopin Law Firm LLC to represent you, you choose legal advocates to stand in your corner who will fight relentlessly for the compensation and justice that you deserve.
Contact our team at (504) 475-2429 to get started with your free case review! All our clients work directly with trial attorneys, not case managers, so you can rest assured your case is in good hands from the very beginning.