No Fee Guarantee
EspanolSí, Hablo Español

Can A Plaintiff Be Faulted For Not Wearing A Seatbelt In An Indiana Auto Accident?

Your Indiana Accident Lawyers

Half of all States require all adults in a vehicle to wear safety belts and in all States children must be in restraints. Not too long ago Indiana also expanded its safety belt law to cover rear-seat occupants. SeatbeltEven though Indiana law requires adults and children to wear safety belts, evidence of the failure to use a seatbelt is inadmissible in a lawsuit for injuries in an auto collision for the reason that the lack of a seatbelt does not constitute a “proximate cause” of the injuries sustained in the car crash.

Indiana has an active Statute that requires motor vehicle occupants to wear seatbelts. The statute states the following:

Each occupant of a motor vehicle equipped with a safety belt that: (1) meets the standards stated in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 208 (49 CFR 571.208); and (2) is standard equipment installed by the manufacturer; shall have a safety belt properly fastened about the occupant’s body at all times when the vehicle is in forward motion.

Ind. Code Ann. § 9-19-10-2 (West). Another portion of Statute, IC 9-19-10-7, expressly forbids evidence of the failure to wear a seatbelt for the purpose of demonstrating fault or for the purpose of showing failure to mitigate the person’s damage. It should be noted that Indiana case law has excluded several vehicles from this statute. “The term ‘vehicle,’ as used in the seat belt enforcement statute … is a ‘passenger motor vehicle,’ and does not include trucks, tractors, and recreational vehicles, but does include sport utility vehicles (SUVs). State v. Price, App.2000, 724 N.E.2d 670.

In the 1999 case of Hopper v. Carey, 716 N.E.2d 566 (1999), the Indiana Court of Appeals carefully analyzed the seatbelt defense in the State of Indiana. That case involved the driver of a fire truck and his son brought against another motorist and a company which had paved the road. The company wished to bring in evidence that the driver and his son were not wearing seatbelts. The Court held: (1) [a] seatbelt defense is not admissible to demonstrate fault under the common law defense of contributory negligence or the Comparative Fault Act, and (2) defense of incurred risk [by the driver] is likewise unavailable unless the defendant has actual knowledge of a specific risk, which means more than a general awareness that a future accident is possible. Hopper v. Carey, 716 N.E.2d 566 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). One unique situation came in in the case of Burge v. Teter. That court held that evidence that motorist’s children were not restrained in a child restraint system at time of accident could not be used to prove contributory fault and therefore, could not be used to mitigate damages. Burge v. Teter, 808 N.E.2d 124 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004). On the other hand, the Indiana Supreme Court spoke to the issue of not wearing a seatbelt as “misuse of a vehicle” in the products liability case of Morgen v. Ford Motor Co. The court claimed that “When a manufacturer does not reasonably expect it, a plaintiff’s failure to use available safety devices can constitute misuse in a crashworthiness case.” Morgen v. Ford Motor Co., 797 N.E.2d 1146, 1149 (Ind. 2003). Therefore not wearing a seatbelt can be brought up under certain specific circumstances.

Contact Us For a Free Consultation Fill out the form below to receive a free and confidential initial consultation.

FAQs
Our Fees

It cost $0 up front to hire our office. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we settle your case or obtain a verdict on your behalf.

If we’re unable to obtain a settlement of verdict for you we eat the costs we’ve advanced to litigate your case, which includes costs for ordering medical records, filing your case, hiring experts, deposing witnesses, and many other things.

If we do settle your case or obtain a verdict for you our standard rate is 33% of the settlement or verdict, plus reimbursement for the expense we’ve previously advanced. Our fee never increases like some personal injury attorneys, even if we have to take your case to trial.

Our Fees

It cost $0 up front to hire our office. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we settle your case or obtain a verdict on your behalf.

If we’re unable to obtain a settlement of verdict for you we eat the costs we’ve advanced to litigate your case, which includes costs for ordering medical records, filing your case, hiring experts, deposing witnesses, and many other things.

If we do settle your case or obtain a verdict for you our standard rate is 33% of the settlement or verdict, plus reimbursement for the expense we’ve previously advanced. Our fee never increases like some personal injury attorneys, even if we have to take your case to trial.

Case Worth

As a victim, establishing damages, negotiating with the insurance company, or filing a lawsuit can be daunting and next to impossible without the assistance of an experienced lawyer. As a result, if you have been hurt in an accident, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled under Indiana law.

Why Hire?

Choosing an attorney that has experience dealing with personal injury law is important to protect your legal rights. If you are trying to recover damages from a business or other type of organization, you can bet that they are going to have a legal team on their side.

Medical Bills

If you were injured by an accident you may be struggling to determine who is responsible for paying your medical bills and holding them accountable. Speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer at The Law Office of William W. Hurst and learn if we may be able to help.

Recovery

After you have been injured, you are entitled to compensation. The type and amount of compensation depends on the injury, bills, the cause of the injury, negligence/bad faith of the defendant, etc. The attorney you retain can also heavy influence your recovery through knowledge, experience, and dedication. Legal terms and phrases can be confusing even after you retain an attorney. If you have been injured, you may wonder how much your case is worth or what your “damages” are. The worse the injuries, the higher the value of the case and the greater need for an experienced attorney