What Happens If You Get Into a Crash Without a Seat Belt?
Nevada Revised Statute 484D.495 makes seat belts a legal necessity for anyone who is over either 6 years of age or 60 pounds; those younger or smaller than that are expected to use child restraint devices as appropriate. Wearing a seat belt is just one of many ways to promote road safety, and should be a habit of any responsible motorist, all the more so if they have passengers in the vehicle and families to get back to. However, whether by willful ignorance or extenuating circumstances, it’s not uncommon to get into a car accident in Nevada without wearing a seat belt, which begs the question of what happens next, as well as whether you can still file a legal claim for compensation.
Getting into a crash without a seat belt will generally have two types of consequences—those you experience immediately at the time of the crash, and those that will come back to bite you during the claims process.
It goes without saying that without a seat belt, you’re significantly more likely to be injured or killed in the course of the accident; this can be due to the possibility of an ejection, but even at lower speeds, secondary collisions within the vehicle (and with the airbag) can be more damaging than the primary impact itself.
Additionally, you’ll be penalized with the charge of driving without a seat belt, although this is overall the more minor consequence:
- Driving without a seat belt is a secondary offense and misdemeanor; meaning that you can’t be pulled over for it alone, and it’s treated fairly lightly. If convicted, you’ll be fined $25 and will not have any license points assessed.
How Compensation Will Be Affected in Nevada
Nevada utilizes a modified, or partial, comparative fault system. Under such a system, your compensation will be reduced based on your level of fault in an accident. If you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, you’ll automatically be at least partially at fault for your injuries. For example, if your lack of seat belt usage renders you 20% at fault for an injury, and your medical damages are determined to add up to $10,000, you’ll only be able to recover $8,000. However, that’s just comparative fault; the “modified” portion of that rule comes from Nevada’s stipulation that you can’t recover at all if you’re mostly at fault. In that same example with $10,000 of medical damages, if you were 49% at fault, you could still recover $5,100; however, at just 51% fault, your recoverable damages would drop to $0.
Wearing a seat belt does not immediately bar you from receiving the compensation you deserve for your crash. Our Las Vegas accident attorneys can help you learn more about options for a legal claim if you’ve been in a crash without a seat belt. You should schedule a free, no-pressure consultation today by calling us at (702) 550-1111. The claims process is complex and difficult, all the more so if you were not wearing a seat belt during your accident, but you don’t have to go through it alone. We can take that burden off of your shoulders, giving you time to focus on your recovery in the face of likely extensive injuries.