Indiana law states that all vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt or be in a child safety seat regardless of where they are sitting inside the car. Therefore, failing to wear a seatbelt at the time of a car accident could mean that the courts find you partially responsible for the injuries you sustained in the accident under Indiana’s contributory negligence law.
Proving negligence is the key to winning a personal injury settlement. And even if you can prove that the other driver was negligent for speeding, failing to observe traffic signals, or driving recklessly, your decision to not wear a seatbelt could make you negligent.
The best way to know whether you can sue the other driver after a car accident is to discuss the matter with an Indiana car accident attorney. To guide you in understanding how seatbelt laws apply after an accident, we’ll outline Indiana’s seatbelt law, what contributory negligence is, and how to know if you should still pursue a lawsuit if your seatbelt was not fastened at the time of the accident.
Indiana’s Seatbelt Law Explained
Even if you’re in a low-speed accident, you and your passengers could be ejected from the vehicle if you aren’t wearing a seatbelt. That’s why Indiana has a seatbelt law that makes failure to wear one a primary offense.
That means that law enforcement can pull you over for observing that you were not wearing a seatbelt. You don’t have to break another law, such as speeding or failing to fully stop at a stop sign, to face fines for failure to buckle up.
Indiana law is more stringent than other state laws on seatbelt usage. Here’s an overview of some of the most important aspects of the state’s laws.
- All people within a vehicle – including both the driver and passengers – must wear a seatbelt regardless of where they are sitting in the vehicle.
- Indiana’s seatbelt law is a primary enforcement law, meaning you can be pulled over just for that.
- Children under the age of 8 must be in a child restraint system according to a car seat’s manufacturer instructions.
- Violating the law means paying a $25 fine.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
Now that you know the extent of the Indiana seatbelt law, you can see there are no excuses for failing to wear a seatbelt, even if you were a passenger at the time of the accident.
Breaking the seatbelt law means that the money the courts require the other driver to pay you for your injuries could be decreased by the percent that your failure to wear a seatbelt contributed to your injuries under the contributory negligence rule.
This means that if the courts find you 20 percent at fault for an accident and require that the other driver pay you $10,000 for your injuries, you’ll only get $8,000 since you were responsible for 20 percent of your injuries.
The percentage that the courts find you responsible for will depend on many factors but could include the nature of the accident, what part of your body you sustained injuries, the extent of your injuries, and much more.
Should I Still Sue the Other Driver if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt at the Time of the Accident?
The best answer to this question is, it depends. The specific circumstances of the accident you encountered will dictate whether it’s a good idea for you to sue even if you know part of the fault for your injuries rests on you.
The best way to know whether you should pursue a lawsuit is to discuss your circumstances with an attorney. At Stewart & Stewart, we offer a free case evaluation to learn more about the circumstances surrounding your car accident so we can advise you on the best next steps.
Allow us the opportunity to review your case and provide our insights. Schedule your free Indiana car accident case evaluation now.