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I Was a Passenger in a Car Wreck and Was Not Wearing My Seatbelt… Can I Make a Claim?

Oct 15, 2014 - Car Accident by

That is a question currently pending before the Texas Supreme Court. The question is, if you are injured through the negligence of another person in a car wreck, but at the time of the wreck you were not wearing your seatbelt, can you still make a claim for your personal injuries?

This question has actually already been answered by the Texas Supreme Court but because of changing times and the current court’s trend toward favoring insurance companies, the question is again before the Texas Supreme Court. Originally in 1974, this same question was presented to the Texas Supreme Court. The case was Carnation Company v. Wong.

The court held that where an accident was not a person’s fault but they were injured through the non‑use of a seatbelt, that fact could not be used as evidence to reduce the damages they might otherwise be entitled to. The court had two theories for reaching this decision.

First, in 1974, seatbelts were not required to be used. Since there was no requirement, the court did not feel that the injured party should be punished. More importantly, the court held that there was not sufficient evidence to show that had the injured party been wearing a seatbelt, his injuries would have been reduced.

This decision was codified by the Texas legislature. The Texas Legislature added a law that held that the use or non‑use of a safety belt could not be admissible into evidence in any civil trial for damages arising from the automobile collision. The law remained unchanged until repealed in 2005.

Despite the law being repealed, many courts continued to hold that the use or non‑use of a seatbelt was not admissible. Although the law repealed, the original Texas Supreme Court decision was never changed.

Now, however, there is a similar case pending before a new, more conservative Texas Supreme Court that raises the same issue. That is, can an innocent person who is an automobile wreck through no fault of their own have their damages denied or reduced because they failed to wear a seatbelt? Given the current pro‑insurance, pro‑business make-up of the Texas Supreme Court, many outsiders believe the court will allow the use or non‑use of a seatbelt to be a factor in determining an injured party’s damages.

No matter what the law, wearing a seatbelt makes sense. Study after study and wreck after wreck have clearly established that those that wear seatbelts are less likely to be seriously injured.

If you, or someone you know or love, have been seriously injured in a car crash, big truck wreck, or a motorcycle accident… call the personal injury attorneys of Roberts and Roberts. These car wreck lawyers have been representing injured Texans for nearly 30 years. They have the skill, resources, and staff to help injured people get their car repaired or replaced, collect any lost wages, and get the medical care they need. The call costs you nothing… it could mean everything.

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