Morris County, NJ Auto Accident Lawyers
How Seat Belts Can Affect Your New Jersey Car Accident Claim
Let’s start with the numbers. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Seat belt use reduces crash-related injuries and fatalities by more than 50 percent.
- Air bags provide protection, but are not a substitute for seat belts.
- Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of people younger than 34. Drivers aged 18 to 34 are less likely to wear seat belts than people older than 35.
- Seat belt use could have prevented an estimated 12,000 injuries and saved 450 lives in 2009.
New Jersey has a primary enforcement seat belt law, which means that the police can stop you simply because someone in a vehicle is not wearing seat belts. That law applies to everyone —the driver and the passengers in both the front and rear seats. If it is your first offense, it can cost you $46 in fines. If you are involved in an accident, it can cost you much more.
The car accident attorneys at the law offices of Smith & Doran, P.C. in Morristown help people who have been injured in a car accident recover damages. But under New Jersey’s comparative negligence personal injury laws, your damages could be reduced if you were not wearing your seat belt – even if another driver’s negligence caused the accident. Here’s why:
Comparative Negligence Lawyers Parsippany, NJ – not wearing a seat belt can hurt
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that want to pay you as little as they can in compensation for your injuries. If you were injured in a car accident and were not wearing a seat belt, the insurance company will seek to reduce the amount of money it has to pay you under a legal principle that is known as comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, the injury victim’s damages are reduced by the percentage of fault that the victim bears for his or her injuries. For example, if your total damages were $100,000 and you were 10 percent at fault, you would be awarded only $90,000.
The insurance company will argue that if you had been wearing your seat belt, your injuries would have been far less serious. Even if the other driver’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident, you still bear some responsibility for the severity of your injuries because you were not wearing a seat belt.
There are no specific guidelines for assessing comparative negligence in New Jersey. The percentage of fault is determined on a case-by-case basis. As your attorneys, we will fight to maximize your compensation. But you can help yourself — and perhaps even save your life and the lives of others — by making sure everyone in your car wears a seat belt.
Contact a Morristown Car Accident Attorney with experience handling Comparative Negligence
Robert A. Smith of Smith & Doran is a Certified Civil Trial Attorney. This means that he specializes in civil court cases, including accident and injury cases of any kind. It is an accolade given by the New Jersey Supreme Court to only 2% of the active lawyers in the state. His fellow lawyers have also accorded him the highest possible Martindale Hubbel rating of AV® Preeminent in recognition of his excellent legal knowledge, communication skills, and ethical standards.
Bob Smith prides himself on providing personal but professional legal counsel, and he believes open and honest communication with his clients is the key to building a long-lasting partnership based on trust. If you would like to discuss your car accident case with Bob Smith and the law team of Smith and Doran, contact us online or through our Morristown offices at 973-261-6254 to schedule a free consultation. Weekend and evening appointments are available. If you are unable to travel, one of our lawyers will meet with you at the hospital or your home.
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