I Was Hurt in a Crash, but I Wasn’t Wearing A Seat Belt. Can I Claim Damages?

I Was Hurt in a Crash, but I Wasn’t Wearing A Seat Belt. Can I Claim Damages?Wearing a seat belt saves lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of all teenagers and drivers under 40 who died in car crashes in 2016 were not wearing a seat belt.

Tennessee statute 55-9-603 requires that drivers, and passengers in the front seat who are four years of age or older, must wear a safety belt while the car is in forward motion There are some exceptions such as for people with a disability. The statute imposes fines and penalties for violating this law.

Tennessee statute 55-9-604 provides, however, that violations of the seat belt law cannot be used as evidence in a personal injury trial based on negligence. The failure to wear a seat belt can be used if the plaintiff files a product liability case.

Negligence cases generally state that a driver was careless because he/she failed to follow the local traffic laws such as running through a stop sign or speeding. Drivers can be negligent even if they followed the traffic laws but didn’t operate their car responsibly. For example, drivers should know to be extra cautious when it is raining.

In product liability cases, the injured victim claims that a manufacturer used defective parts and that the defect caused the injuries or worse, a death. Defects are typically based on poor design, shoddy workmanship, or unclear or incorrect instructions. Distributors and car sellers can also be liable for product defects. Defendants in product liability cases who want to assert a seat belt defense must make a timely and proper defense.

The defendants must also show the failure to use the seat belt made the injuries worse. For example, the failure to wear a seat belt probably wouldn’t help if a car ignites due to a defective fuel tank. If anything, not wearing the seat belt might help the passenger get out of the car faster.

Contributory negligence in Tennessee

In Tennessee, the fault of a plaintiff can be used to reduce the amount of any award.  Since the failure to use a seat belt normally can’t be introduced in a Tennessee car accident, contributory negligence is not an issue in non-product liability cases.

If the defendant can prove fault, then a judge or jury determines the percentage of the fault. For example, if two cars collide and one went through a red light but struck another car that was speeding, a jury could find that the plaintiff (the one who was speeding) was 20% at fault. In this scenario, the plaintiff’s jury award would be reduced by 20%.

At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we fight for every injury victim. We understand many laws that counter typical defense arguments. We have been fighting for injury victims in Tennessee for nearly two decades. Please phone us now at 615-246-5549 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment  We have offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville. We handle car, truck, and other vehicle accidents for anyone injured in Tennessee.

 

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Mary T.

"5 stars! This is the greatest Law firm I have ever seen. They make you feel like you are being taken care of and you are not just a number, but a name. They are very concerned with your every need. Rocky we love your LAW FIRM!!"

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Linda S.

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Linda S.

"5 stars! To whom it may concern: Rocky McElhaney Law Firm went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to handling my case. Rocky McElhaney and Russell Belk were there for me 100% of the way."

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“You and your staff again are amazing…”

"As much as I love all the "thank you's" my friend is giving me for recommending you, I of course cannot take all the credit. You and your staff again are amazing and when I can, I wil refer you always. My friend is overwhelmed (her exact words) for how well you took care of her and her daughter."

Kerry W.

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2015-02-06T15:32:17+00:00

Kerry W.

"As much as I love all the "thank you's" my friend is giving me for recommending you, I of course cannot take all the credit. You and your staff again are amazing and when I can, I wil refer you always. My friend is overwhelmed (her exact words) for how well you took care of her and her daughter."

“Rocky McElhaney Law firm is filled with great people…”

"5 stars! If you’re looking for a team of great attorney’s, then you’ve reached the ones and no longer need to search. Rocky McElhaney Law firm is filled with great people that are empathetic, and will fight for you like they are fighting for themselves! Call them up and see for yourselves!"

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2015-02-06T16:37:49+00:00

Phillip H.

"5 stars! If you’re looking for a team of great attorney’s, then you’ve reached the ones and no longer need to search. Rocky McElhaney Law firm is filled with great people that are empathetic, and will fight for you like they are fighting for themselves! Call them up and see for yourselves!"

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2015-02-06T16:39:03+00:00

Eddie H.

"5 stars! I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you and all the attorneys who handled my case from The Rocky McElhaney Law Firm for your excellent representation in my case. Words cannot express my heartfelt thanks for your outstanding professionalism, expertise, and legal consultation."
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