Will It Hurt My Car Accident Lawsuit In Buffalo If I Was Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

by Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC on January 23, 2015

in Buffalo Car Accidents

Any experienced Buffalo personal injury lawyer will tell you that everyone should wear their seat belt. Not wearing a seat belt greatly increases the risk of suffering a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident. Also, while failure to wear a seat belt does not prevent an injured person from pursuing a personal injury claim, it may have an impact on the amount that can be recovered.

Under New York law, not complying with the laws requiring the wearing of seat belts may not be used in a personal injury lawsuit to argue that the injuries were the fault of the unbelted person. It may be used, however, to argue that he or she would have suffered lesser injuries if a seat belt had been worn.

If the party responsible for the motor vehicle accident wishes to make an argument that the injuries would have been less severe, he or she must comply with certain rules. First, the defendant’s attorney must have affirmatively informed the injured party’s personal injury lawyer that they will be raising failure to use a seat belt as an issue. Second, the courts of New York State have found that it is not enough to simply argue that seat belts reduce injuries.

Instead, the defendant must submit competent evidence regarding how wearing a seat belt would have changed the specific injuries suffered by the plaintiff. This usually means that the defense must have an expert who can analyze and explain how wearing a seat belt would have altered the injured party’s movement within the vehicle in a manner that would have reduced the injuries.

If you have been injured in a car accident and have any questions, we can help you. Please call Friedman & Ranzenhofer at 716-631-9999.

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