Car accidents take lives in Texas every day. In 2017 alone, one person died every 2 hours and 21 minutes in a car accident, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. You can significantly reduce your odds of a critical injury in an auto accident if you wear a seat belt. To lower the number of serious injuries and fatalities in auto accidents, many states have passed laws requiring seat belt usage. Texas is one of them.

How Can a Seat Belt Protect You in a Car Accident?

All drivers and passengers in Texas must wear safety belts under state law. The penalty for failing to wear a seat belt is a fine of $25 to $250, plus additional court costs. A seat belt can protect you from bodily injuries. It works with airbags, in most vehicles, to prevent you from colliding with dangerous elements inside the vehicle, such as the steering wheel or dashboard. Securing you to the seat can prevent blunt force trauma injuries such as broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, head injuries, brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.

Without wearing a seat belt, you could fly around the vehicle and strike objects or other passengers. The forces of the collision could also eject you from the vehicle, leading to additional injuries such as lacerations or road rash. Wearing your seat belt keeps you safely in the vehicle, within the protective metal shell of your car. A seat belt’s lap and shoulder structure concentrate the impact of the accident on these points on the body only, helping to reduce injuries to the internal organs, spine and other crucial body parts.

Can I Recover Damages If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt?

Failure to wear a seat belt could adversely affect your personal injury claim after an auto accident in Texas. While the law varies from state to state, Texas’ seat belt statute does not prevent the use of noncompliance with the law as admissible evidence against a plaintiff during a civil trial. A defendant could use evidence that you were not wearing a seat belt against you during an injury claim. You may still be able to recover damages, but the courts might reduce your award amount because you did not wear a seat belt. Speak with a San Antonio car accident lawyer to determine if you will be able to recover damages for your accident.

For the defendant to use your lack of seat-belt wearing against you, he or she must be able to prove that this caused or substantially contributed to your injuries. If a medical or crash expert could prove that you would have your injuries even if you had been wearing a seat belt, this may negate the defendant’s argument. Otherwise, the courts may diminish your recovery award based on the rules of modified comparative negligence. The courts may reduce your compensatory amount by the percentage your lack of seat-belt wearing contributed to your injuries.

Statistics of Seat Belt Use in Car Accidents

Car accidents are a main cause of death in the U.S. A total of 37,133 people suffered fatal injuries in motor vehicle accidents throughout the country in 2017. Seat belt usage brings down the number of crash-related fatalities by a few thousand each year. In 2017, researchers estimated 2,549 additional people would have survived had they been wearing seat belts. Seat belts prevented close to 15,000 deaths in 2017. Almost half (47%) of victims killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts. Currently, the national seat belt usage rate is 90.7%.

For your safety and the protection of your potential right to file a claim, buckle up when driving a vehicle or riding as a passenger in San Antonio. Wearing your seat belt could save you from life-threatening or fatal injuries if you get into a car accident. It can also help protect your passengers, as you could become a dangerous projectile in an accident if you are not wearing a seat belt. In addition, it could help you avoid a defense argument centered on your lack of seat-belt wearing. Buckle up when on the road in San Antonio. If you were in an accident in Texas and believe seat belt use could affect your claim, contact our personal injury attorneys in San Antonio online or call (210) 922-2200  for assistance with your claim.