A car accident east of St. Joseph highlights not only the danger of not wearing a seatbelt, but also the legal implications of being in a car without wearing a restraint.
Car Accident Hurts Unrestrained Driver
The incident happened this past weekend on U.S. 36 in Caldwell County. According to police reports, one car rear-ended another on the highway. The collision caused a pileup that injured both drivers and a passenger in the leading vehicle.
Both of the occupants of the leading car were wearing their seatbelts. They suffered minor injuries despite their car overturning from the collision.
The driver of the trailing vehicle was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the car crash. He suffered serious injuries when his vehicle overturned in the accident.
Seatbelts Save Lives
It is well reported that using a seatbelt drastically reduces the costs of a car accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control, using a seatbelt is the most effective way to avoid a serious or a fatal injury in a crash. In fact, people who do not use a seatbelt account for 53% of car occupants who die in a car crash, while accounting for only 15% of the people on the road.
Not Using a Seatbelt Can Slightly Alter a Personal Injury Case
What is not as widely known is the fact that not wearing a seatbelt can slightly reduce your ability to recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident in Missouri, even if the other driver caused the accident.
Missouri’s personal injury law uses the doctrine of comparative negligence. This concept forces the jury in a personal injury case to compare the negligence of each party in creating the accident and the resulting injuries. Any compensation that the victim of a crash can receive will be diminished by how at-fault they were for their injuries.
This seems like it would mean that an unrestrained driver would recover far less compensation than they deserve because their decision not to wear a seatbelt caused some of their injuries. However, Missouri Statute 307.178 says that not using a seatbelt can only be counted, at most, as 1% of the cause of the victim's injuries.
This is a far cry from how unrestrained car accident victims used to be treated. Missouri moved to comparative negligence rules from contributory negligence rules only as recently as 1983. Before then, contributing to your injuries in any way could doom a personal injury case.
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Even if you were unrestrained at the time of a car accident, you can still recover compensation for your injuries. The personal injury attorneys at the Smith Law Office in St. Joseph know this, and understand how to manage an unrestrained driver’s case to make sure you recover as much as possible. Contact us online or call our law office at (816) 875-9373.