Leesburg, Florida car accident lawyer discusses a recent case where a jury found a passenger injured in a car accident was 90% at fault for her own injuries because she wasn't wearing her seat belt.
Florida is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction. This means that a jury will determine the fault of all parties involved in a car accident – and will apportion the percentage of fault based on what they did or what they didn't do to cause the accident and/or injuries.
We all know the importance of seat belts and we are familiar with the slogan click-it or ticket. In car accident cases, Florida law allows a defendant to raise a defense – arguing that the plaintiff (person bringing the claim) is responsible for his/her own injuries because he/she wasn't wearing a seat belt.
In these cases the defendant has the burden to show the following:
- the injured person was not wearing his/her seat belt; and
- the failure to use the seat belt contributed to his/her injuries.
Most of the time, defendant's will hire one or more experts to support the seat belt defense.
The jury's Verdict
In a recent case tried in West Palm Beach, Florida. A passenger broke her neck in a car accident when the driver had a seizure and crashed the car. The insurance company lawyer raised the seat belt defense and took the position that the crash was relatively minor and if the passenger had her seat belt on, she wouldn't have broken her neck. The jury agreed with the defendant and assigned 90% responsibility to the passenger for not wearing her seat belt. In the end, the passenger received 10% of the jury verdict because the verdict was reduced by her percentage of fault.
I bring up these cases to show how juries do not forgive injured people for their errors. It is clear that a broken neck is a serious injury; however, the jury determined that the passenger's choice of not putting on her seat belt was worse than driving a car when you know you could have a seizure.
I have a free book available for folks who have been injured in car accidents, which discusses the ins and outs of bringing a car accident claim. If you would like a free copy of the book, click this link Free Book and I would be more than happy to send you a copy.