When you are injured in an accident for which you are not at fault, you are entitled to seek damages for these injuries, which can be especially crucial if you have a long and costly recovery ahead of you. There are some states in which this claim can be reduced if you were not wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred, known as the “seat belt defense”. Missouri is one of 15 states that allows a version of this controversial defense.
The seat belt defense does not only apply to the driver of the vehicle, but it might apply to any unbuckled passengers who may have been in the car during the accident. Since personal injury litigation revolves around determining who is at fault for causing injury or damage, this defense is often used to deflect liability by the insurance companies, who try and argue that because an individual did not have a seat belt on, they are partially liable for their own injuries, under a “comparative negligence” or “failure to mitigate damages” theory.
It is important to note that not every state that allows this defense applies it uniformly. In Missouri, even when an insurance company successfully asserts the seat belt defense, it only reduces the plaintiff’s damage award by 1%. In Wisconsin, this defense can decrease a damage award by up to 15%.
At Strong-Garner-Bauer P.C., our Springfield auto accident attorneys have recovered more than $7 billion in verdicts and settlements since the inception of our firm over 45 years ago. We only operate on a contingency fee basis, so you pay no fees unless we win your case.
We offer free initial consultations, so call our firm today to see how we can help you pursue justice and the compensation you deserve. (417) 855-2022