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Comparative Negligence and Seat Belt Laws in California

How Comparative Negligence Laws Can Affect Drivers Who Do Not Wear Seat Belts

Comparative Negligence Defined 

Comparative negligence can negatively affect the amount of damages awarded in a personal injury claim. If the plaintiff is deemed partially responsible, the amount discounted from their claim is measured based on the court’s determination of fault

In states that abide by  comparative negligence statutes, a victim or plaintiff may be partly responsible for an accident. In car crash cases, this could refer to a victim’s lack of following road rules, level of intoxication, or even the condition of their automobile. 

For example, a plaintiff would have a difficult time earning damages if they were heavily intoxicated and ran into the street without warning. Courts will determine comparative negligence based on reasonable considerations. There are 3 comparative negligence categories

  • Pure Comparative Negligence. When a plaintiff or “victim” is deemed responsible for most or 90 percent of the accident, they are only able to recover 10 percent of their damages. California is a Pure Comparative Negligence State and usually allows the plaintiff to at least recover a partial claim.    
  • Modified Comparative Negligence 1. States like Colorado and Maine will NOT grant any rewards if the plaintiff is deemed exactly 50 percent liable for the accident.
  1. Modified Comparative Negligence 2. In Hawaii, Iowa, and other states a plaintiff may NOT be granted any awards if they are found to be at least 51 percent responsible

If you have any questions in regards to your car accident case or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form

In 2018, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issued 27,136,792 driver’s licenses and registered over 25,646,228 automobiles. New drivers are on the road practically every day, along with newly registered vehicles. With a frequent increase in drivers and car owners, the possibility of an accident may continue to rise.

California has many cities that are known for its busy traffic and reckless drivers. These two factors contribute heavily to a car crash. If you are a victim of a car accident and would like to file a lawsuit against the driver at-fault for damages, West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you get the maximum compensation you deserve. 

If you have any questions in regards to your car accident case or would like to schedule 

Contributory Negligence

States that abide by “contributory negligence” laws mainly favor the defendant. If the plaintiff is considered responsible for even 5 percent of the accident, they are not awarded any compensation. 

In contributory negligence states, if the injured party is judged to have any responsibility in the accident, they will typically be burdened with the full cost of their medical bills, property damage, loss of income, and pain and suffering.  

Seat Belt Laws in California 

According to California seat belt laws, all passengers in the front and back seats are required to wear a seat belt if they are at least 16 years old. Depending on the type of car you have, your seat belt may be customized. 

The Seat Belt Law however, only states that the seat belt must cover the lap and doesn’t have to cover the chest, as it does in most modern vehicles. The law also states that the owner of the car must provide working seat belts for all passengers in the vehicle. This also applies to taxis and rideshare cases. 

Fines and Penalties 

If you do not follow the seat belt law in California you are subject to the following fines: 

  1. $20.00 for first time offenders 
  2. $50.00 for each charge afterwards 

In some states this fine might be accompanied with mandatory traffic school classes.

Child Seat Belt Law 

Based on weight and size, children are more likely to suffer personal injury and wrongful death during a severe car crash. Therefore, California holds children to a higher level of safety regulations. These rules include:

  • Children under 2 years old are to be placed in a rear-facing seat. If the child is over 40 inches tall or over 40 lbs they can be placed in a front-facing seat.
  • Children under the age of 8 are required to be strapped in a booster or car seat in the back of the car. 
  • Safety belts are used for children who are over 8 years old or any child that is 4’9. 

If a parent or guardian violates the seat belt law by not properly restraining a child under 16 years old, they will be fined $490.

Will Wearing a Seat Belt Affect Your Insurance Claim? 

Since California is a comparative negligence state, abiding by the seat belt law is highly recommended. In fact, the rewards from your insurance claim can be heavily reduced if you are found negligent. Wearing a seat belt will not only sway the jury in your favor, but will help you get the largest settlement possible. To increase your chances of the best possible settlement be sure to talk to a car accident lawyer today. 

What Can a Car Accident Lawyer Do for You?

If you have sustained injuries as a result of another person’s carelessness, you have the right to hold that individual responsible. Our car accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury. 

Contact us today by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.

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