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Can a person recover damages if he didn't wear a seat belt?

A single moment can change a person's life forever. While these sudden changes can bring positive change, there can also be devastating and life-long impacts from a sudden incident like a car accident.

For example, two Knoxville families recently described the aftermath of a head-on collision that occurred about a month ago when a SUV going the wrong way hit their vehicle. The driver of the SUV has since been charged with second degree murder, after the crash killed the driver of the vehicle that was struck.

The two daughters of the deceased woman have also been left with severe injury. One recalled having her back broken in the accident, as well as cracked ribs, a fractured collar bone, wrist and foot. Another individual had to have a titanium rod inserted in her right femur, as well as total facial reconstruction.

While the injured individuals are on the road to recovery, they expressed their regret that nobody in their vehicle was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. One person indicated the damage would not have been as bad if seat belts had been worn.

This is not an uncommon occurrence for individuals to be seriously injured after not wearing their seat belt. Questions can arise as to how this may impact a personal injury lawsuit, given that injuries could have been less severe had seat belts been worn at the time of the accident.

Typically, a person can still recover damages from a negligent driver even if the injured person was not wearing a seat belt at the time. However, the failure to wear a seat belt could reduce the amount of compensation the person may recover in the lawsuit. As with other issues, different states have different laws that can apply in this situation, and therefore individuals should understand what impact it will have in their case.

Source: WATE, "Knoxville families remember surviving a deadly accident in West Virginia," Kristen Holloway, April 18, 2015

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