Auto Accidents and Seat Belt Use
On the morning of October 31, a rare ejection accident occurred on U.S. 90 when the driver of a white sedan swerved into another car, then bounced off the median into the path of an 18 wheeler. He was ejected from his vehicle and died at the scene, while the drivers of the other car and the big rig were unharmed. While this is obviously a tragic event for all involved, it is important to note that the driver was almost certainly not wearing a seat belt. If that precaution had been taken, it is reasonable to assume he might still be alive.
Seat Belt Use Is Mixed
While Texas law is stringent with regard to seat belts and the fines levied if belts are not warned, this does not prevent many from going without. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that since 2003, motor vehicle deaths have consistently been above the national average in Texas, by as many as 3.8 per 100,000 drivers in some age groups. Seat belt use in Texas is generally above the national average, but this does not necessarily correlate to lower deaths and injury counts.
Texas does enforce the laws on its books in a fairly effective manner, using tactics like increased penalties for violations (points on one’s license even if you are not the one violating the law), and periods of very visible enforcement like speed traps combined with social media postings. Many drivers simply do not notice enforcement of relatively low-level laws such as seat belt requirements unless it is deliberately designed to catch eyes and ears. Texas seat belt laws are also primary laws, meaning that a law enforcement officer needs no other reason to stop someone if they see the person not wearing a seat belt.
Do I Have a Case?
It is important to keep in mind that if you are in an automobile accident and you did not wear a seat belt, it does not mean that you have no possibility of obtaining compensation for your injuries. The defendant will try to argue that under Texas’s theory of comparative negligence, you may have negated your right to compensation because you did not wear a seat belt and mitigate the risks. You may be able to explain it away using the facts of your case, but you may also wind up losing your case if you ever officially admitted to not wearing a seat belt.
If you admit on the record to not wearing a seat belt, you may wind up being found to have committed negligence per se. Negligence per se is a theory of law under which you may be found liable if you (1) break a law, and (2) harm someone that the law was intended to protect. If you violate Texas seat belt laws and harm another person, you have harmed a person the law was intended to protect.
Contact Our Auto Accident Lawyers for Help
Texas seat belt laws are generally misdemeanors, but breaking them can still have serious ramifications. If you have found yourself in such a situation where you have cause for concern, our passionate New Braunfels car accident lawyers will do our best to try and help.