One of the major reasons that people are injured or killed in car accidents is because of failure to properly wear seat belts – regardless of who caused the accident. According to the CDC, more than half of the teens (aged 13-19 years) and adults (aged 20-44 years) who died in crashes in 2016 were not buckled up at the time of the crash. Additionally, of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 47% were not wearing seat belts. In 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts, according to the NHTSA.
Does Seat Belt Use Affect Claims for Compensation in New Mexico?
Car accidents are the most common form of personal injury accidents – meaning the most common type of accident where one party’s negligence causes another party’s harm, according to AllLaw.
But while personal injury claims usually deal with the negligence of the other party, sometimes accident victims are also partially at fault for their injuries.
So if you’re injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, but you weren’t wearing a seat belt, can you still claim compensation? Will your lack of seat belt use be considered negligence?
New Mexico is one of the states that does not have a comparative fault law about wearing seatbelts. That means that in New Mexico, even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, your personal injury compensation cannot be decreased because of it.
However, even though New Mexico law protects your right to claim full personal injury compensation, it’s likely that the other party (including the other party’s insurance company) will still put up a fight! The opposing party might try to claim various reasons why you are responsible for some or all of your injuries. It’s in your best interest to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney right away!
Tips for Correct Seat Belt Use
Even safe drivers can’t always prevent a car accident, but every driver can take safety precautions that decrease the chances of serious injury or death. One of the easiest ways you can protect yourself from serious injury or death caused by a car accident is to properly wear your seat belt every time you get in your car.
Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%, according to NHTSA.
Seat belts are the best defense against hazards you can’t control: impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers. Being completely ejected from a vehicle is almost always deadly, and seat belts act to prevent this.
Remember that airbags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Failing to wear your seat belt could mean that you are thrown into a rapidly opening frontal airbag, and such a force can cause serious injuries or death, according to NHTSA
The NHTSA suggests the following seat belt guidelines to prevent injuries and death:
- The lap belt and shoulder belt should be secured across the pelvis and rib cage, which can better withstand crash forces than other parts of your body.
- Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from your neck.
- The lap belt rests across your hips, not your stomach.
- NEVER put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
Next Steps for Claiming Compensation in New Mexico
Were you injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence? Remember that in New Mexico, you can not be withheld compensation simply because you were not wearing a seatbelt. Even if you were not responsible for your injuries, the opposing party will fight to try to prove that you’re guilty or at least partially guilty for the accident. Even your own insurance company will likely try to come up with reasons to withhold the compensation you’re relying on. Don’t risk losing the money you deserve. Car accidents can lead to overwhelming medical expenses and repair costs. A personal injury attorney like Brian K. Branch can help you claim your full compensation! Best known for his skill in the courtroom and his care and compassion for the clients he represents, Brian K. Branch can help give you the chance to tell your side of the story and prove that you deserve financial compensation. Contact your personal injury attorney at 505-207-4401 or online!
Law Office of Brian K Branch, PC
715 Marquette Ave. NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102