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Car accidents happen far more often than we like to think. And if you’ve been in a car accident when you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, you may be wondering if this can decrease available compensation in your personal injury case. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t any easy way to answer that question without taking a look at your specific situation. One of the most important things you can do for your injury claim – whether you wear a seatbelt or not – is to work with a dedicated Ohio personal injury firm like Cooper Elliott to determine the details of your case and your potential compensation.

Ohio Seatbelt Laws

As a general rule, wearing a seatbelt is an essential part of operating a vehicle safely. 

Seatbelts save lives and reduce the severity of injuries in accidents, being the primary component that prevents deadly ejections during rollovers. 

In Ohio, the seatbelt laws are governed by Ohio Revised Code § 4513.263, which mandates that all drivers and passengers in the front seat must wear seatbelts while the vehicle is in motion. Additionally, all passengers under 15 years old must be wearing a seatbelt or harness, regardless of their seating location within the vehicle. 

When these guidelines are ignored, they can result in fines and more.

Ohio’s Comparative Negligence System

Understanding how your compensation can be affected by your lack of a seatbelt is crucial to your personal injury case. 

Ohio has adopted what is known as a “comparative negligence” system, which means that the courts will apply a comparative negligence standard to any compensation you’re awarded. This means that if you are found to be partially at fault for your injuries, by not wearing a seatbelt, your potential compensation can be reduced by a proportionate amount.

This sounds complex, but it is relatively simple. If you are awarded $100,000 in damages but are found to be 25% at fault for your injuries for not wearing a seatbelt, your damages would be reduced by that same 25%, meaning you are awarded $75,000. 

With Ohio’s comparative negligence framework, however, as long as you were not found to be more than 50% at fault, you should still be eligible for some degree of compensation.

Compensation In Your Car Accident Case

Since you can still obtain compensation if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, it’s important to learn what else can affect that compensation. 

Here are additional factors that can impact how much compensation you receive:

  • The overall severity of your injuries
  • If there are long-term or permanent disabilities or disfigurements
  • Total medical costs, both current and all future related costs
  • Pain and suffering, which is the non-economic compensation you can receive for serious injuries due to the intense mental suffering that happened
  • Emotional distress and trauma

While not wearing your seatbelt does not directly decrease your available compensation in Ohio, it can have significant indirect effects if you are found to be partially at fault. To make sure your case is as strong as possible, you should always work with experienced Ohio personal injury attorneys like our team at Cooper Elliott.

Contact Cooper Elliott Today

At Cooper Elliott, we have a seasoned legal team that is dedicated to advocating for your rights and fighting for you to receive maximum compensation. Our team has a deep understanding of the complex Ohio personal injury process and can help you build the strongest case possible to recover every bit of compensation you may be entitled to. Reach out today to get started.