If you experienced injuries in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, but you were not wearing a seatbelt, you may wonder whether you can claim compensation from the liable party. The short answer is yes. However, not wearing a seatbelt during the accident may complicate your case and impact your payout.
Read on to learn the answer: “If I was not wearing a seatbelt while in an accident, can I sue the other driver in Oklahoma?” Then contact attorney Bryan Garrett for assistance.
Oklahoma Seatbelt Laws
Wearing a seatbelt is one of the best ways to prevent injuries in car accidents. However, seatbelt use is also the law in Oklahoma.
According to the Oklahoma Mandatory Seat Belt Use Act, the driver and the front seat passenger in a vehicle must always wear a seatbelt. An officer can pull you over solely for not wearing a seatbelt.
Failure to obey this law may result in a fine. As a result, if you were not wearing a seatbelt during a car accident, the officer who came to the scene may issue you a fine.
Different states have different processes to determine liability in car accidents. Oklahoma uses a comparative negligence policy, which allows multiple parties in an accident to have partial responsibility. Insurance companies can assign all parties involved in an accident a percentage of the blame, then correlate their payout to that percentage.
For instance, let’s say another driver was 100% at fault for the accident. However, because you were not wearing a seatbelt during the accident, you are partially responsible for the injuries you experienced. As a result, the insurance company may assign you a percentage of the blame, such as 30%.
If the insurer finds you 30% responsible for your injuries, you would only be able to receive compensation for 70% of the cost of your injuries and damages.
The Seat Belt Defense
Some states allow defendants in personal injury cases to use the “seatbelt defense” when discussing liability. This defense enables the at-fault driver in an accident to provide evidence of your non-use of a seatbelt to reduce their liability for the accident.
The defense may also collect evidence that supports that your injuries would not have been as severe or would not have occurred at all had you been wearing your seatbelt during the accident. For example, they may examine your medical records and bring in expert witnesses to support this claim.
How to Increase Compensation When You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt
All in all, while you can probably still receive compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit, you may not receive the full amount necessary to cover your injuries. However, you can take a few steps to maximize your payout:
- Gather as much evidence as possible: The more evidence you have to support your injuries and damages, the stronger your case will be.
- Secure an expert witness: The defense may call upon an expert witness to explain how your injuries would have been less severe if you had been wearing a seatbelt. As a result, having your own expert witness can counter their testimony.
- Hire an attorney: Not wearing a seatbelt in an accident can make for a complicated, stressful case. However, hiring a competent attorney is an effective way to improve your case outcomes and navigate your case successfully.
Now that you know the answer to, “If I was not wearing a seatbelt while in an accident, can I sue the other driver in Oklahoma?” contact our Bryan Garrett Personal Injury Law Firm at 405-369-4498 for assistance.