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What if I Was Not Wearing My Seatbelt When I Got in a Car Accident?

Dec 22, 2021 | Auto Accident


Indiana law states that all vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt. Failing to wear a seatbelt could impact a personal injury case if you are not wearing one at the time of injury.

However, not wearing a seatbelt will not prohibit you from bringing a case against the at-fault driver in a car accident. We’ll explain how failing to wear a seatbelt could impact your personal injury claim and what you need to know about comparative negligence.

Indiana Seatbelt Laws

Failing to wear a seatbelt in Indiana is a primary offense, meaning law enforcement can pull you over and ticket you solely for this infraction.

Additionally, the state also has child restraint laws designed to protect youths riding in motor vehicles. These laws include the following:

  • Children under the age of 1 and less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing car seat. While not the law, parents are encouraged to keep their child rear-facing until they are 30-35 pounds for added safety.
  • Children over the age of 1 and more than 20 pounds must be in a child safety seat with an internal harness system. This seat can be forward-facing.
  • Once a child weighs 30 pounds, parents can move them to a booster seat. However, children are safest when they remain in a car seat with internal harnesses until 40 pounds.
  • All children under the age of 8 must use a child restraint system in accordance with the seat’s manufacturer’s recommendations based on a child’s height and weight.
  • All children under the age of 16 must be restrained while in a vehicle by either a child safety seat or the seatbelt within the vehicle.

Impact Failing to Wear a Seat Belt Could Have on Your Case

With a clear understanding of Indiana’s seat belt laws, now you’re prepared to gain a better understanding of the impacts that failing to wear a seat belt could have on your personal injury case.

If you’re injured due to another driver’s negligence, you can still pursue a personal injury case regardless of whether you were wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

However, the total amount that you can recover might be reduced under the state’s comparative negligence law. The courts will evaluate what percentage of your injuries you are at fault for by failing to wear a seat belt. The total amount you will receive to compensate you for your injuries will be reduced by that amount.

For example, if the courts were to order the at-fault driver to pay you $100,000 for your injuries but find that you were 25 percent at fault for your injuries, you will only receive $75,000.

Role of a Personal Injury Attorney in Seatbelt Related Accident Cases

The other party involved in the accident will do all that they can to prove that failing to wear a seat belt had a large impact on your safety during the accident. They’ll present evidence against you to get the courts to rule you were 51 percent or more at fault in the case, which would mean you cannot receive any compensation for the accident.

That’s why it is so important to have a skilled attorney on your side. Your attorney will work to prove the negligence of the other driver to mitigate the court’s view of your failure to wear a seat belt.

If you need legal representation for car accident injuries, contact Stewart & Stewart. Whether you were wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident or not, we’ll fight to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.

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If you have been involved in an Indiana personal injury accident, contact us at Stewart & Stewart Attorneys. Our Indiana personal injury lawyers represent victims throughout the state, including Carmel and Anderson. We have also successfully advocated for clients throughout the area, including Fort Wayne, Gary, Indianapolis, South Bend. Complete a free online consultation form or call us at (800) 33-33-LAW!

Stewart & Stewart Attorneys have the knowledge and experience to defend your rights in the following areas of Indiana injury law: auto accident, brain injury, drug injury, defective product, fire and burn injury, insurance dispute, medical malpractice, motorcycle accident, nursing home abuse, slip and fall,  truck accident, workers’ compensation and wrongful death.