Wearing a seatbelt is an important way to reduce your risk of serious injury in a car accident. Seat belt usage has been shown to prevent fatal injuries and minimize the risk of catastrophic injuries, too. This is why many victims of vehicle accidents may be concerned about Idaho seatbelt laws if they weren’t wearing one at the time of a crash. Working with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Idaho may help you respond to the “seatbelt defense.”
The seatbelt defense is an Idaho law that allows an at-fault driver to reduce their damages owed to a car accident victim if that driver can show the victim was not wearing a lap belt during a crash.
For a victim with substantial damages from an accident, managing a seatbelt defense strategy from the other driver involved can be crucial for helping a victim recover damages, focus on healing, and move forward into the future. Discover the seatbelt laws in Idaho that might influence your personal injury suit.
If you or someone you know has been hurt in a car accident caused by a distracted, reckless, drunk, or drowsy driver, you have rights. The team at The Sargent Law Firm Injury Lawyers can tell you more about what’s required to recover compensation in your claim, even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
What Is Idaho’s Seatbelt Law?
An officer must have another violation that prompts the traffic stop, but a citation can be issued for only the Idaho safety restraint violation.
Proper restraints are required for children in Idaho and adult drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt inside a car per Idaho Statute 49-673. Penalties apply for those drivers operating a car in which people are not wearing seatbelts. This includes:
- Adult drivers must pay $10 for passengers under the age of 18 who don’t have proper restraints
- Passengers and drivers aged 18 and above must pay a $10 citation for not wearing a seatbelt
- Court costs also apply to the penalty for a driver or occupant under age 18 not wearing a seatbelt
Child seat belt laws require the use of an appropriate restraint, such as a rear-facing car seat or booster seat. Modern cars all come with a belt across the chest option for adults for most seats.
If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, you may have suffered severe injuries. Seatbelts are designed to keep you in one place during an accident, and without one you may move around inside the car or get ejected from it. If you were not wearing a seatbelt, the liable driver may allege that your injuries were more serious than they would be if you were restrained during the crash in an effort to reduce your damages.
Fault in Accidents Without a Seatbelt in Idaho
Idaho is a fault state, meaning that the person found responsible for causing the accident must pay for property damage and injuries for those hurt in the accident. All Idaho drivers must carry liability insurance coverage to pay for victim medical expenses and vehicle damage.
Drivers in Idaho are able to open personal injury claims to get compensation for basic medical expenses and other costs, such as lost wages. In no-fault states, however, drivers must first use their own personal injury protection to pay for basic medical costs after a wreck, no matter who was at fault. PIP does not apply in Idaho, however, which makes determination of accident fault a key component of your personal injury claim.
When an accident happens, each driver will notify their insurance company. Those insurance carriers assign adjusters to determine fault for the crash. Drivers with comprehensive or collision coverage might also open a claim with their own insurance carrier before fault has been determined. That driver’s insurance company may cover costs and then get reimbursed from the at-fault driver’s insurance company if their policyholder is found not at fault.
What is comparative fault?
Idaho uses a comparative negligence system. Drivers who are found less than 50% at fault for an accident can collect damages from other parties. However, a driver found to be 51% or more at fault for a crash will have damages reduced by their percentage of fault. A driver found 40% at fault, however, is only able to recover 60% of their damages.
A common tactic for reducing the damage liability for an at-fault party is to argue that the other parties in the crash were not wearing seatbelts. Any victim who was not wearing proper restraints at the time of the crash should hire a personal injury lawyer experienced with the seatbelt defense.
Can I Still Recover Damages if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?
Evidence of improper restraints cannot be used to show comparative fault and can only be admitted to court for the purpose of assigning damages. Further, seatbelt defenses do not apply in underinsured or uninsured motorist claims, or those actions used to recover on behalf of a minor who is not able to drive except in a case brought by a parent suing a driver for wrongful death.
The party using the seatbelt defense must make a strong case that failing to wear a seatbelt was a contributing cause for the damages or injuries suffered. The submission of misleading evidence can be very harmful to someone who was legitimately injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligent behavior. A talented and experienced Idaho personal injury lawyer is essential for arguing any case involving the seatbelt defense.
You may still be able to recover damages after an Idaho car accident, even if the other side raises the seatbelt defense.
Contact Sargent Law Firm Injury Lawyers Today
The attorneys at The Sargent Law Firm know what to do when the other drivers argue the seatbelt defense. We leverage resources to help tell the story of the accident and its impact on your life. You have enough to worry about after a critical vehicle accident. Focusing on your medical recovery is vital, and we’ll handle the legal and insurance aspects of your case so you have the best possible chance of recovering compensation.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation about your accident. We’ll discuss your rights, deadlines, and potential challenges that may emerge during your lawsuit. Hiring the right lawyer is crucial for giving you the best chance to recover damages to pay your expenses after an accident; don’t hesitate to get help as soon as possible.