Tennessee, like nearly every other state, has a law that requires drivers and front-seat passengers to be buckled into a seatbelt any time the vehicle is moving.
This is why, if you were injured in an accident and you were not wearing your seatbelt, you might wonder whether you may still be eligible to pursue compensation for your damages.
Here are a few things you should know about pursuing a personal injury claim in this situation. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Knoxville auto accident lawyer from Greg Coleman Law.
Tennessee’s Seat Belt Laws
Tennessee has a primary seat belt law requiring drivers and front seat passengers to buckle up whenever the vehicle is in forward motion. When a driver violates a primary law like this, police officers have the right to pull the driver over and ticket them. do not need any other offense to pull them over. Secondary seat belt laws prohibit police officers from pulling people over simply for not wearing their seat belt.
If you are charged with violating Tennessee’s primary law, you can go to court or pay a fine of $30 instead. The fine for a second or subsequent violation is $55.
Drivers are responsible for buckling themselves and all minors in the vehicle. Tennessee’s Graduated Driver Licensing laws say licensed passengers age 16 or older are responsible for buckling themselves. Tennessee’s Child Passenger Safety law requires children under age 18 to wear a seat belt, all the time. If a licensed passenger does not buckle up, but the driver does, the passenger can be ticketed instead of the driver.
Violating the Child Restraint Law can result in a fine of $50 and being charged with a Class C misdemeanor. Additionally, the state may require you to attend a class on the dangers of not properly restraining child passengers in an infant or booster seat.
Can I Still Pursue a Claim for Injuries?
If you were not wearing your seat belt at the time you were involved in an accident, you may still be able to pursue a claim for your injuries. Generally, the other party cannot use your failure to wear a safety belt or receiving a citation for failure to wear a seat belt against you in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
However, evidence might be admissible in some situations. For example, the fact you were not wearing a seat belt might be admissible if the other side offers to provide evidence that you wearing a seat belt would have caused your injuries to be less severe.
Either party may also be able to request a hearing with the trial judge to argue whether evidence should be admitted.
How Does Tennessee’s Comparative Fault Apply?
Tennessee applies comparative fault principles when more than one person’s negligence contributed to an accident.
Under this system, if the injured victim is assigned any portion of liability for the accident, he or she can still pursue recovery of damages, but that compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned. For example, if the plaintiff is found 20 percent at fault and the total award is $200,000, then the compensation amount would be reduced by 20 percent, or $40,000.
However, if you are found to be at least 50 percent at fault, you cannot recover any damages.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer for Help with Your Claim
The insurance company or defendant may claim your injuries were caused by your failure to follow Tennessee law.
This is why you should contact the Knoxville car accident legal team at Greg Coleman Law. We are prepared to review your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation and discuss your legal options. There are no upfront charges if we represent you, and we do not get paid anything if we are not successful in recovering damages for your injuries.
Contact us today to schedule your free case review. Call (865) 247-0080.