A total of 38,680 people died in highway vehicle accidents in the United States in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Not only is this a 7 percent increase over 2019 fatality totals, indicating an additional nearly 2,600 deaths, but it is also the largest number of car accident deaths reported since 2007. Safety experts suggest the rise in fatal crashes may be linked to an increase in unsafe driving behaviors, including a Driver Not Wearing Seat Beltdecline in seat belt use.

More Deadly Accidents, Despite Fewer Vehicles

In 2020, with various parts of the country under COVID-related restrictions, there were fewer vehicles on the road. Unfortunately, NHTSA data shows that drivers who did venture out during the pandemic were more likely to engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel, including driving without using a seatbelt.

Traffic deaths involving drivers or passengers who weren't wearing seat belts jumped 15 percent—a particularly concerning statistic considering that, in a typical year, nearly half of all people killed in fatal accidents weren't properly restrained at the time of the crash.  Other driving behaviors associated with the rise in highway accident fatalities include:

  • Speeding, with speeding-related deaths increasing 15 percent
  • Driving under the influence, with fatal crashes involving alcohol or drugs jumping 9 percent

If You or a Loved One Was Injured in a Collision, the Defense Will Look at Seatbelt Use for a Defense

If you were hurt in a crash you didn't cause, the defense will look to see if you were utilizing your seatbelt appropriately at the time of the colision.  The use of a seatbelt can help reduce the seriousness of injuries suffered by an accident victim.  The failure to use a seatbelt for your own protection equates to contributory negligence on your part.  The defense will argue, and the law supports the argument, that the defense should only be responsible for the injuries caused by the negligence of the defendant driver, not the negligence in failing to comply with the law to wear a seatbelt.  For example, if a case involves a death of a passenger and that passenger was ejected from the vehicle due to the falure to wear a seatbelt, then the defense can argue that the death was due to the passenger's negligence in failing to wear a seatbelt, not from the collision itself.  This would especially be true if the driver of the impacted vehicle suffered limited damages from the collision.

While the burden of proof is on the defendant to show the difference of the possible injuries, you do not want to have to defend your actions while you are attempting to secure compensation for your injuries.  Further, if you can reduced your injuries by clicking in a seatbelt, the better off you will be if you are involved in a collision.  

Seatbelt use is often monitored by a vehicle's event data recorder.  If you say you were wearing your seatbelt at the time of the collision, the event data recorder can verify this fact or prove it false.  

Even in relatively small collisions, the absence of a seatbelt can result in serious injuries.  Consider a collsion that brings a vehicle to a sudden stop at 20 mph.  An unrestrained person will continue to move at 20 mph until that person strikes the interior of the car, such as a windshield or dashboard.  Striking your head at 20 mph can do a lot of damage to your brain.  Don't risk it.  Wear your seatbelt.

If your case involves a person who was not wearing a seatbelt, all is not lost.  You may still be entitled to damages from the collision.  However, you need the right attorney who can help minimize the amount of negligence attributed to the injured person, while maximizing the amount of financial recovery for the injury or death.  At the Inland Empire Law Group, our legal team works diligently to build a winning case for damages, gathering the necessary evidence to prove that the defendant's negligence caused an accident and the associated injuries and losses. Ready to learn more about what we can do for you? Talk to us about your case.

Talk to Us About Your California Car Accident Injury or Wrongful Death Claim

After a serious car accident, there's far too much at stake to go it alone. Fortunately, you don't have to. The Inland Empire Law Group's talented attorneys fight for the rights of clients just like you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss your case with a member of our team.  Call us at 909-481-0100 or submit your information online and we will contact you regarding your legal needs.

David Ricks
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Rancho Cucamonga Personal Injury Lawyer Serving the Inland Empire Community
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