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Proposed Legislation Might Hurt Accident Victim Claims if Seat Belts Were Not Worn

After six years of steady declines the number of traffic fatalities increased in the first nine months of 2012. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 25,580 people died in auto accidents from January through September compared to 23,884 during the same period in 2011.

 

Consulting a Clayton County attorney after an auto accident enhances a victim's ability to receive a reasonable settlement. If you have been injured in an automobile accident you should discuss your case with an accident attorney at the Law Offices of Shane Smith.

 

Insurance companies have pressured legislators to create laws that would allow evidence of seat belt non-use to mitigate a victim's damage claim. Georgia House Bill 504 and House Bill 532 were introduced for this purpose. One would allow a defendant and his insurer to use expert testimony to prove that not wearing a seat belt contributed to injuries. The bill are being promoted online by the Chamber of Commerce.

 

According to current Georgia law, the culpable driver in an auto accident and his insurance company may not mitigate an injured party's damages by introducing evidence that the victim was not wearing a seat belt. The law was created so the responsible party does not pass off the accident's responsibility and because juries are not capable of determining how much the lack of a seat belt contributed to injuries.

 

O.C.G.A. Section 40-8-76.1(D) states:

The failure of an occupant of a motor vehicle to wear a seat safety belt in any seat of a motor vehicle which has a seat safety belt or belts shall not be considered evidence of negligence or causation, shall not otherwise be considered by the finder of fact on any question of liability of any person, corporation, or insurer, shall not be any basis for cancellation of coverage or increase in insurance rates, and shall not be evidence used to diminish any recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, occupancy, or operation of a motor vehicle.

 

If you or someone you know has been hurt in an auto accident, meet with a Clayton County auto accident lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Shane Smith to schedule a free legal consultation.

 

 


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia