Seatbelt Non-Use Cannot Be Used to Show an Accident Victim Was Contributorily Negligent in an Indiana Car Accident Case

Recently, an Indiana news report covered a fatal car accident that occurred on I-70. According to Indiana State Police, the accident victim was driving on the highway when he swerved into another car. The driver died on impact, and the other driver was taken to the hospital for life-threatening injuries. Investigations revealed that the accident victim was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

In Indiana, seat belt use is a mandatory requirement that can help to protect many accident victims from severe injuries or death. Seat belts help drivers and passengers by preventing them from flying through their vehicle’s windshield, smashing into the dashboard, or falling out of the car. Seat belts are proven to mitigate the injuries and damages that accident victims suffer during a car accident.

When an individual is involved in an accident with a negligent driver, the other driver may try and limit their liability by pointing to the victim’s failure to wear their seat belt. Insurance companies and defendants might claim that the plaintiff’s injuries and damages would not have been as severe had they were wearing a seat belt. Although this may be true, Indiana law does not allow defendants to use evidence of an accident victim’s seat belt non-use as a factor in a comparative negligence determination.

Comparative negligence is a legal theory that can reduce a victim’s damages award based on their level of fault. Indiana follows a modified comparative fault system, which allows plaintiffs to recover if they were less than 51% at fault. Importantly, plaintiffs will not be able to recover if they are more than 51% at fault for the accident.

Indiana’s Seat Belt Act states that a person who does not use a seat belt in an accident cannot face consequences under Indiana’s comparative fault rules. In effect, defendants cannot use a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt to establish partial fault or negligence. Even though defendants cannot use seat belt use to limit liability, there are many other defenses that they may employ. Injury victims must understand that their actions may affect their award. Factors such as cell phone use, speeding, and distraction may be used against them. Plaintiffs should make sure that they retain an experienced Indiana car accident attorney to represent their interests.

Have You Suffered Injuries in an Indiana Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in an Indiana car accident, contact our experienced legal team at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse. Our attorneys have a strong reputation for representing Indiana injury victims in all types of personal injury lawsuits. We have vigorously advocated on behalf of countless injury victims and their families. The attorneys at our firm understand the importance of diligence and compassion when handling Indiana car accident lawsuits. We also have the necessary knowledge and skills to get you the compensation you deserve. Compensation often includes payments for your past medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, property damage, as well as for your pain and suffering. Contact our office at 888-532-7766 to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.