Insisting that your passengers fasten their seatbelts before you shift your vehicle into "Drive" is a simple way to avoid a hefty traffic ticket in the event that a police officer sees you drive past. However, ensuring that your passengers are buckled up is about more than just preventing a ticket. If you're in a car accident and the investigators learn that your passengers aren't wearing their belts—something that is easy for paramedics and physicians to tell—this could be detrimental to any legal case that you want to bring forward. Your car accident attorney will always want to know if your passengers were wearing their belts. Here are some ways that an unsecured passenger could harm your case.
He or She Could Impede Your Visibility
When a passenger isn't belted into his or her seat, there's no telling how this person may be positioned in your vehicle. For example, instead of having his or her shoulders and back against the seat, the passenger could be leaning forward for any number of reasons. A passenger in the front seat could thus be impeding your visibility, making you at least partly responsible for the accident. The other driver or a witness on the scene may even be able to notice the position of the passenger and relay this information to the authorities.
He or She Could Cause Injuries to You
A big element of any car accident case is compiling the expenses that you've incurred because of an injury and trying to get the other motorist to agree to a settlement that covers these costs. However, if you were riding with a passenger who wasn't wearing his or her seatbelt, this person may have contributed to your injuries. Failing to wear a seatbelt can cause a passenger's body to violently fly around the car during a collision, and a person hitting you with considerable force can cause you an injury. Even if the other driver was responsible for the accident, his or her attorneys will argue that your non-belted passenger was a contributor to your injuries.
He or She May Lack Credibility as a Witness
A passenger who failed to wear his or her seatbelt and was riding with you during the accident can be a valuable witness for your case. However, it's also possible that the attorney for the other motorist will aggressively question this witness, and may harm his or her credibility. This attorney may take the stance of, "Since you were breaking the law by not wearing your belt, why should we believe the validity of what you're saying?" This could end up being a successful tactic, thus potentially harming your case.
For more information about auto accidents and how they can play out in court, contact an auto accident attorney.