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How not wearing a seat belt can impact your personal injury claim

Getting into a crash that results in serious injuries can have a profound impact on your life. Obviously, there is the pain and suffering that relates to suffering an injury and managing the healing process. Beyond that, there is also the property damage to your vehicle, as well as your lost wages if you have to miss work.

When someone else is responsible for the crash, you may have the ability to hold them accountable for those financial losses through a civil lawsuit. However, in some circumstances, you may not have the right to as much compensation as you might like. Failing to wear your seat belt while in a vehicle could actually affect your rights in a personal injury lawsuit later, even if you didn't cause the crash.

Arizona law mandates the use of seat belts

To keep citizens safe and to mitigate the potential risk involved in motor vehicle collisions, Arizona law requires that people riding in or driving vehicles must wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion. Failing to wear a seat belt in the vehicle could result in a civil penalty.

Law enforcement can issue a ticket or citation for someone in a vehicle without a seat belt. Any evidence that you are not wearing a seat belt at the time of a collision caused by another driver can also impact your right to compensation in a lawsuit related to that crash.

Failing to wear a seat belt increases your contribution to the outcome

Obviously, the injuries that you suffered in the crash were the result of someone else causing the collision in the first place. However, it is likely that their attorney can also demonstrate at least to some degree that the severity of your injuries relates to your not wearing a seat belt. The courts will consider this so-called seat belt defense when reviewing your case for compensation.

As a result of their consideration, they will likely assign a percentage of fault in the accident to you for not wearing your seat belt. That percentage will have a direct impact on how much compensation you actually receive. The best approach, obviously, is to always secure yourself into a vehicle.

However, in the event that you have already been in a crash and were not wearing a seat belt, you may want to take steps to demonstrate that the collision, more than your lack of seat belt, contributed to your injuries. Just because you were not wearing a seat belt does not mean you have lost the ability to seek compensation for your injuries. It may just mean a more complex legal battle or a reduced final figure for the compensation you receive.

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