Clarksburg Seat Belt Laws
Clarksburg seat belt laws may impact your car accident claim due to a provision in the code allowing your award for damages sustained in a car accident to be reduced by as much as 5% if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the collision.
In practice, this means that if a jury or judge finds in your favor and awards you $100,000 for your injuries in your car accident claim in Clarksburg, you will only receive $95,000 if it is proven that you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your car accident.
West Virginia Seat Belt Laws
West Virginia seat belt laws became effective on September 1, 1993, and state that all persons riding in a passenger vehicle must wear seat belts if they are in the front seats, and all passengers aged 8 – 17 years must wear seat belts in any seats, front or back.
Furthermore, West Virginia seat belt laws require children under the age of 8 years to be secured in either a child safety seat, or a booster seat, as applicable under the code. Any child younger than 8 years old who is at least 4′ 9″ tall can ride as a back seat passenger secured by a seat belt.
These laws are written and enforced to protect people from the hazards of a severe impact in a car accident. However, non-use of your seat belt does not necessarily indicate that your injuries were the result of not using a seat belt, which is why you are still entitled to damages for your car accident injuries.
The impact that West Virginia’s seat belt laws will have upon your award or settlement is not cut and dry. Your car accident claim in West Virginia will only be affected under certain procedural rules.
West Virginia uses a legal system called modified comparative negligence – 50% bar rule to determine negligence in an auto accident. This means that an injured party can only recover monetary damages if his or her fault in causing the injury is deemed to be less than 50%.
Under West Virginia seat belt laws, non-use of a seat belt is specifically prohibited from indicating negligence in your West Virginia car accident. Nor does non-use of a seat belt prove contributory or comparable negligence in your West Virginia car accident.
West Virginia Seat Belt Code
Even though West Virginia uses the modified comparative negligence system, your Harrison County car accident lawyer will explain to you that non-use of your seat belt does not count toward self-negligence.
The seat belt code of law states that a violation is not admissible as evidence of self-negligence in any civil action proceeding for damages.
However, if it can be proven that you were not wearing your seat belt during your West Virginia car accident, you and your Harrison County car accident lawyer must still contend with the possibility of an “in camera hearing.”
An in camera hearing is a procedure for claimants in a West Virginia car accident case to determine if the injured party was not wearing a seat belt, and whether that failure was a proximate cause of the injuries sustained.
Clarksburg Camera Hearings
The seat belt in camera hearing provision is simply an effort on the state’s part to promote safety through seat belt use. Handling the issue of non-use of a seat belt in your West Virginia car accident case can greatly benefit from the legal services of a well-qualified Harrison County car accident lawyer.
Your Clarksburg car accident lawyer can also fully explain the implications of an in camera hearing upon the jurors, some of whom may be prejudiced by learning that you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your crash. As a result, your lawyer may offer to stipulate that you were not wearing a seat belt, regardless of whether non-use was a proximate cause to your injury.
During the trial of your West Virginia car accident case, once your Harrison County car accident lawyer stipulates non-use to the judge, an automatic 5% deduction of your award will be set aside. However, stipulation will prevent the jurors from learning of any accusation or evidence that you failed to wear your seat belt.
Contacting a Clarksburg Car Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, car accidents are a regular occurrence on West Virginia roadways such as I-79, I-77, Route 50, Route 33, and I-68. In fact, our state averages over 40,000 car crashes, over 400 deaths, and over 11,000 serious injuries each year. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a West Virginia car accident, order a FREE copy of our consumer guide, The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Wreck Your West Virginia Car Accident Claim then contact the Harrison County car accident lawyer team at The Miley Legal Group for a FREE consultation – 304-326-1800