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Florida’s Seat Belt Law – Click it or Lose Your Auto Accident Case

July 24, 2009

Beginning July 1, 2009, police officers in Florida may now stop the driver of a car based upon a simple suspicion that the driver is not wearing a seat belt.  If the police officer’s suspicion is right, you can receive a citation that will cost you $100.00 under the new Florida law.  Before, motorists could not be stopped for just the seat belt violation.  A police officer would have to see some other type of traffic violation, and then could cite a person for failing to wear a seat belt once that person is pulled over.   

      Putting aside the financial reasons for wearing your seat belt, there are also safety and legal issues to consider.  Wearing a seat belt has been proven to save lives.  The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles estimates that Florida’s seat belt law will prevent approximately 1,700 serious car accident injuries, and approximately 140 car accident deaths on an annual basis.  In 2007 alone, of the 1,972 that were killed in car accident crashes, 61% of them were not wearing a seat belt.  You do not have to look far to find an auto accident in Florida where a person’s life was saved simply because they were wearing their seatbelt. 

      There are also legal reasons to wear a seat belt in Florida.  If you suffer an injury in a Florida car accident, and you pursue a car accident claim against the person responsible for causing the accident, the at-fault party can raise Florida’s “seat belt defense” in an effort to minimize any car accident injuries you may have suffered.  In order for Florida’s “seat belt defense” to be raised in a Florida auto accident case injury claim, that party must prove there was “an available and fully operational seat belt” that the injured person failed to wear.  Sometimes this is more difficult to show than it seems, particularly in serious car accidents where a car sustains a very large amount of property damage.   If a party can show that there is an available and fully operational seat belt available to the person that was injured in the car accident, Florida Law allows for a jury to reduce a damage award.   

      There are ways to counter the seat belt defense.  These include showing that the seat belt was not “available and fully operational”, arguing that the injury would have occurred even if the person had been wearing the seat belt, or attack the basis for the assertion that the injured person was not wearing their seat belt. 

      A motorist in Florida has many reasons to wear their seat belt.  It is obviously in their financial best interest to wear their seat belt or otherwise be subject to a $100.00 citation from a police officer.  If the driver is involved in a serious car accident or suffers a serious car accident injury, a seat belt is certainly going to give the person a better chance of walking away from the accident versus suffering a serious injury or death.  And finally, if you are injured in a serious car accident, any experienced Florida auto accident case lawyer will advise you that you will have difficulty overcoming Florida’s seat belt defense.   

     Joseph Maus has been specializing in representing those people who have a Florida auto accident case for over 15 years.  To determine whether you may have a claim, the lawyers at Joseph M. Maus, P.A. offer a free, no obligation consultation to answer your questions, and help evaluate your claim.  For more information about the seat belt law or a Florida auto accident case, contact Joseph M. Maus, P.A.at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.jmmlawyers.com, or email him today.

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