If you sustained an injury in a car accident, you have a right to seek compensation for things like medical bills, loss of income, and medical treatments. What if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of the crash? If you were recently in a car accident with no seatbelt, you need to hire an attorney to help you better understand your legal options and what compensation you are entitled to.
You can contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers to speak with our team to retain our help in building a strong personal injury case.
Pennsylvania Seatbelt Laws for Adults
Pennsylvania seatbelt laws are quite straightforward; it is legally required that the occupants in the front seats wear a seatbelt.
Backseat passengers are not required to wear seatbelts in Pennsylvania, although it’s strongly recommended. Wearing a seatbelt is essential for many reasons, including the safety of everyone in the vehicle. Many states have made it a primary traffic offense to not wear a seatbelt because of the risk of bodily harm for those not wearing one.
Dangers of Not Wearing a Seatbelt in a Crash
Seatbelts add an extra element of safety to vehicles in a collision. Buckling up also helps if the vehicle swerves or stops suddenly. Without a seatbelt, people in the vehicle are at a greater risk of severe injuries.
Research has also shown that wearing a seatbelt increases your chance of surviving a crash by up to 60%. There’s a wide variety of life-threatening injuries a seatbelt can prevent. A seatbelt also works in combination with the airbag in the vehicle by helping to reduce your chance of long-term and severe injuries in a vehicle accident.
Here are some examples of the common injuries that result from not wearing a seatbelt as a driver or passenger:
A surprising number of car accident injuries are internal and may not even be visually noticeable.
Some examples of internal injuries include things like abdominal injuries, internal hemorrhaging, and punctured internal organs. These can be some of the most serious injuries from not wearing a seatbelt.
Fractured and broken bones
If the occupant of a vehicle isn’t wearing a seatbelt, nothing is holding them in their seat if the vehicle gets into an accident. The risk of ejection is higher without the necessary restriction of a seatbelt. This creates a high risk of fractures and broken bones, especially regarding arms, legs, and ribs.
One of the biggest risks regarding car accidents is head injuries. These range from mild concussions or head wounds to more severe injuries like brain damage and paralysis. It is also important to remember that many head injuries may not seem severe at the time of the accident. Many head injuries have generic side effects but can quickly grow worse if you don’t get treatment right away.
Muscle and tissue damage
Some of the more minor injuries that are the result of not wearing a seatbelt include muscle and tissue. This can include injuries like dislocations, bruising, and skin abrasions. These injuries are not usually life-threatening unless there is heavy bleeding.
Sometimes these injuries are the result of wearing a seatbelt due to the force it exerts to keep you still in a crash, but you should always wear one anyway.
Back and spine injuries are another serious injury that can come from not wearing a seatbelt. These are quite common in car accidents, ranging from mild to severe and even life-threatening.
The most mild form of back injury is whiplash, which can still come with long-term consequences and the need for physical therapy. Back injuries can also result in slipped discs, severed nerves, and spinal fractures.
Whether you believe you’re injured or not after a car accident, and whether or not you wore a seatbelt, you should always seek medical attention and get checked out. Many injuries are invisible at first but can quickly become life-threatening if not treated as soon as possible.
Penalties for not Wearing a Seatbelt in PA
Not wearing a seatbelt is a secondary offense in Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania seatbelt laws, vehicle occupants must commit a primary traffic offense for law enforcement to stop them if they are over the age of 18. If the police officer notices that they aren’t wearing a seatbelt, they can get a ticket for this, along with penalties for the primary offense. The penalty for not wearing a seatbelt is a standard fine of $10, with the addition of the court costs.
Will Not Wearing a Seatbelt Prevent Personal Injury Compensation?
Unlike many states in the US, Pennsylvania is a modified comparative fault state. This means that the plaintiff’s negligence is usually reduced proportionally when it comes to their liability. It is also important to understand that the lack of a seatbelt does not immediately constitute contributory negligence.
Because of the laws in Pennsylvania, this means that compensation for personal injuries after a vehicle accident is not impacted by not wearing a seatbelt. The full compensation amount awarded by the judge or jury will not be susceptible to reductions.
Getting personal injury compensation is vital for anyone who has sustained severe injuries and now has medical bills to pay. This compensation can also help to replace any income loss that is a result of the accident.
Contact Us at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers to Speak to a Car Accident Attorney
Getting into a vehicle accident can result in a wide range of injuries, especially for those who weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Don’t forget that it’s still vital for victims like you to receive the compensation they need for medical care. Contact us today at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our auto accident attorneys, or you can call us directly at 215-274-0173.