Seat Belt Laws and Car Accidents
You may find them annoying or uncomfortable, but there’s no doubt that seat belts save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seat belts have prevented over a quarter of a million motor vehicle accident fatalities since 1975. In fact, over half of all those who are killed in car accidents each year were not wearing an appropriate restraint at the time of the crash. Seat belt use isn’t just a good idea for safety reasons; seat belt use is mandatory under New York State law, and failing to use a seat belt can reduce your recovery if you’re injured in an accident.
If you’ve been hurt in a Hudson Valley car accident, you need trustworthy and dedicated legal representation to ensure you receive the amount you’re owed from insurers or the at-fault driver. The personal injury lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP have spent decades fighting for accident victims and can help you obtain the award you deserve. For a no-cost consultation, contact our accident lawyers as soon as possible after a crash.
Laws mandating seat belt use
New York requires that drivers and passengers sitting in the front seat of a vehicle wear a seat belt, regardless of their age. Drivers and adult front-seat passengers may receive a fine of $50 should they fail to wear a seat belt. Passengers under age 16 who are riding in the back seat are also required by law to wear a seat belt. Children under age 8 must be restrained using a child safety seat or booster seat. New York’s seat belt laws are what’s known as “primary enforcement” laws, meaning that New York law enforcement officers can pull over a car simply because they believe that one of the car’s occupants is not properly restrained.
Seat belt defense can diminish recovery for unrestrained accident victims
Since there is abundant support for the fact that wearing seat belts prevents injuries and saves lives, all occupants of a vehicle are expected to take the small step of wearing one to protect themselves when riding in a car. Under the so-called “seat belt defense,” car accident victims can even be held partially responsible for their injuries if they failed to wear an available seat belt at the time of an injury accident. This defense allows at-fault parties to argue that, had the victim been wearing a seat belt as required by the law and principles of safety, they would not have suffered as severe of injuries in the crash. If successful, the victim will be forced to bear all or part of the cost of their injuries.
Challenging the seat belt defense
At Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP, our decades of experience have shown us that there are ways to defeat the seat belt defense. Attorneys for accident victims can argue that the seat belt defense should not apply if the victim’s injuries would not have been prevented with the use of a seat belt, or that no functional seat belt was available. While there are yet other ways that the seat belt defense can be weakened by a skilled plaintiff’s attorney, this argument is yet another reason that all passengers should wear a seat belt any time they’re on the road in New York.
Get All The Compensation You are Entitled to after a New York Car Accident
If you’ve been hurt in a crash in New York, find out if you’re entitled to money damages for your injuries by contacting the seasoned, knowledgeable, and effective Hudson Valley motor vehicle accident lawyers at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a consultation, in Marlboro at 845-236-4411, or in Kingston at 845-331-4100.