Feb 14, 2024

Florida Seat Belt Laws Explained: Your Guide to Staying Safe and Legal

When it comes to staying safe on the road, taking the right precautions is a must. Modern cars are built with these needs in mind, from airbags, anti-lock brakes, and crunch-zoned frames that reduce the force of impact to occupants, and also seat belts. In Florida, the rules regarding wearing seat belts are pretty straight forward and depend largely on the vehicle’s type and year made. 

If you have been injured in a car accident and you cannot recall if you were wearing a seatbelt (maybe because the crash caused you to lose consciousness), you need to consult an experienced accident lawyer in Florida about the details of your crash, what steps you should take, and what laws you should know about that can impact your personal injury claim. Our team at Nuñez Law, P.L. has the legal expertise you need to take action if you are injured. 

Photo of a Boy Fxing Seat Belt

Seat Belt Laws in Florida

Before you enter your vehicle, understanding Florida’s seat belt laws can help you stay safe and aid you legally – not to mention it can help avoid being pulled over by law enforcement and given a citation. Below are a few of the basic aspects Florida drivers and passengers should consider.

The Basic Seat Belt Requirements

Drivers must wear their seat belts if they are operating a motor vehicle. The same goes for passengers in the front seat, and some rear passengers. 

If you or your front-seat passenger fail to wear a seat belt, you could be pulled over by law enforcement. More importantly, seatbelts may avoid or reduce injuries upon collision.

While all front-seat passengers and drivers are required to wear their seat belts, this rule is different for most backseat passengers; if you are in the backseat and an adult, you may not be required to wear a seatbelt in Florida. 

Compliance and Consequences

The laws and regulations are geared towards safety of vehicle occupants if and when a crash happens. So what happens when this law is broken? 

Non-compliance can result in penalties, such as monetary fines, and having to undergo additional training, but it can also impact your ability to recover when you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. And so you must stay aware of what can happen if you do not buckle up, including not subscribing to common seat belt myths

How Seat Belt Laws Impact Personal Injury Claims

When you are involved in a car accident, wearing a seat belt matters. While your seat belt may not play a role in whether an accident happens, it can impact the extent/severity of injuries. 

Florida car accidents are governed by modified shared-fault laws, which can reduce your percentage of compensation (or prohibit recovery if your percentage of fault passes a certain threshold). While you may be due compensation for the accident, the at-fault party may claim that your injuries would not have been as severe if you were wearing a seat belt or if your seatbelt was being properly worn during the crash.

If the at-fault driver can successfully place some of the blame on what caused your injuries back onto you, you may not receive the full compensation that would otherwise cover all your damages. In other words, an adverse driver can be fully or solely at-fault for the crash and may convince a judge or jury that you could have avoided your injuries because of seatbelt defenses. Such a scenario can leave you paying out-of-pocket for the some damages from a crash that you in no way caused.

Safety Benefits of Wearing Seat Belts

When you wear a seat belt, you use a potential safety tool. The belts are designed to protect you by keeping occupants restrained, which can reduce the extent/severity of injuries caused in a car accident. 

When you are unrestrained, your body can be subjected to different amounts of force. In some cases, unrestrained passengers are even ejected from the vehicle, which greatly increases the chance of death. Wearing a seat belt can protect you and save your life. 

Oddly enough, there are certain types of injuries that can occur because an occupant was wearing a seatbelt when the crash occurred – for example, some people suffer shoulder tears when rear-ended while wearing their seatbelt, and surgery may be the only fix. It is safe to assume that someone involved in a crash would prefer to deal with a tear than being flung from the vehicle for lack of a seatbelt properly restraining them.

Statistical Evidence Supporting Seat Belt Use

One of the key reasons to wear a seat belt is to reduce the chance of serious injury or death. Fortunately, statistics from recent years have proven that seat belts can work. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a seat belt reduces the risk of front-seat passenger deaths by 45% and moderate to critical injuries as well. This is a huge step up in preventing car accident fatalities in many cases.

Maximizing the Value of Your Injury Claim

When the at-fault party tries to claim that you were at least partially responsible for the accident, there may be steps you can take to maximize the value of your compensation. Making a strong case can help you protect your financial future and overcome the injuries you are currently recovering from. 

For example, you and your lawyer may seek evidence that you were wearing a seat belt and/or force the at-fault driver to prove his assertions of the seatbelt could have prevented certain injury. Evidence may include eyewitness testimony and surveillance footage, as well as expert opinion. This evidence can back-up your version of events and ensure the at-fault party is not able to avoid responsibility for the crash he caused. 

Seat Belts and Personal Injury Cases

When you need to file a personal injury claim, your seat belt use may matter and could be used against you by the at-fault party. Specifically, the at-fault party is most likely going to have an insurance company defending him, and the insurer is going to argue anything and everything possible to avoid paying an injury claim, or to at least minimize what it has to pay. Sadly, insurers throughout the U.S., and especially those in Florida, prefer to pay defense lawyers rather than to pay claims for crash victims’ injuries.

When filing a personal injury claim, know your rights and what you can expect when you file your claim. This is why it is important to contact an experienced attorney that can help you navigate a personal injury claim involving seat belt usage.

Navigating Personal Injury Cases Involving Seat Belts

If the at-fault party can establish you were not using a seat belt, it can hurt your chances of getting fully compensated for your injuries. That can lead to a lack of the coverage you need to recover from your injuries. 

You may need to come to the courtroom prepared with a strong presentation. If you are unsure what evidence you need for your injury claim, your attorney can provide the guidance you need for your case (whether or not there is a lawsuit filed).

Photo of a Woman Fixing Seat Belt

How Nuñez Law, P.L. Can Assist

When you are facing issues with getting the compensation you deserve following a collision, you may need a Florida car accident attorney to help you. Your attorney can guide you through the claims process, prosecute your case, and help you maximize the compensation you can receive under the particularities of your injury claim. 

One of the key ways an attorney can help you is by providing legal representation before ever needing to step foot into a courtroom. An experienced and persistent attorney has the resources and know-how to help clients get the compensation they deserve. That know-how also helps ensure that the defense meets its burden as the at-fault party is required to do under Florida law, meaning the other party cannot simply allege your injuries could have been lessened or avoided, he has to properly prove such via admissible evidence.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney About Seat Belt Laws 

If you are involved in a car accident in Florida, whether you were properly wearing a seat belt may affect the amount you are able to recover for your injuries. If you were not wearing a seatbelt, you may experience pushback from the at-fault party to reduce your compensation.

If you are concerned about the details of your claim, and whether your compensation may be reduced by a seat belt defense, reach out to an attorney that regularly fights injury claims for crash victims. Our team at Nuñez Law, P.L. has the resources and know-how to help our clients get the maximum compensation deserved for their cases. We provide top-level guidance to car accident victims who may suffer serious injuries resulting from another’s negligence. 

When you are ready to learn more about your car accident case and your options for compensation, reach out for a free consultation. Remember, at AccidentLawFirm.com, Our 5-Star Reviews Are No Accident.