Long before mandatory seatbelt use became a statutory requirement in Arizona, there was case law that gave a Defendant the opportunity to reduce the value of a Plaintiff’s case, in some instances, for the Plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt.
An obvious example is the case of an occupant of a vehicle being hurled through a windshield and killed in a head-on collision. The Defendant must not only prove that the occupant would not have been ejected from the vehicle had he been wearing a seatbelt, but also that he would not have been killed had he been secured by this safety device. This proof might be far easier to establish if another occupant in the same vehicle who was wearing a seatbelt only sustained minor or no injuries.
In a less dramatic example, let’s say that a beltless occupant of a vehicle in a collision is jostled and bangs against the dash or a window. The Defendant must prove that either this occupant would not have been injured had he been wearing a seatbelt or that his injuries would not have been as severe if wearing a seatbelt.
The Defendant has the burden of showing how much the injury was aggravated by the occupant’s failure to wear a seatbelt. If the case had a full value of $50,000.00 and the Defendant established that the occupant’s failure to wear a seatbelt aggravated the injury by 25%, then the $50,000 case value would be reduced by $12,500 for an award of $37,500. If the occupant’s omission is proven to be a 100% because of his injuries, then he gets a zero-dollar award.
Despite there being no mandatory motorcycle helmet law in Arizona, a rider can likewise see his claim reduced or negated by his failure to wear a helmet. Again, it is the Defendant’s burden to prove that the rider’s head injury would not have occurred or would have been much less severe had the rider been wearing a helmet. Of course, a leg or some other type of non-head injury would have no applicability to the lack of a helmet.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident or pedestrian accident, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Select Law. With our extensive experience in the legal field, we know what it takes to win your case. Call us at (425) 891-6691 to arrange your FREE CONSULTATION with an experienced attorney (in person, phone, zoom or your residence/hospital)
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