Car Crashes and Ohio Seat Belt Defense
If you are involved in an accident in Ohio that is someone else’s fault, you may be able to seek damages for your injuries and losses. Unlike some states where your own insurance pays for your injuries and property damage, Ohio is a ‘fault’ state where the at-fault driver is responsible for your damages. All driver’s in our state are responsible for the damages they cause.
This means that if you are t-boned by a speeding driver while you are driving to the store, you may be able to recover compensation for any vehicle damage or injuries that you sustain. However, under Ohio’s comparative negligence laws, how much compensation you receive will depend on your role in the accident. For example, you were turning against a red light, and a speeding driver flew through the intersection and slammed into you. In this scenario, you would also be at fault for the accident because you were turning on against the light. If you are deemed 40 percent responsible for the accident, the amount of damages you can receive will be reduced by 40 percent.
The Seat Belt Defense
Under comparative negligence, any driver who is more than 50 percent responsible for an accident is unable to receive any damages from the at-fault driver. This is where the safety belt defense comes in. If you were t-boned on the way to the store by a speeding driver while you were turning against the light, and you sustained injuries to your leg, spine, neck, and face, the other drive can argue that if you had been wearing your seat belt, your injuries would have been injured, or at least not as injured.
In this way, the safety belt defense puts responsibility back onto the injured. It works because vehicle occupants are required by law to wear their seat belt. If the other driver can show that your injuries would have been reduced if you had been following the law and wearing your safety belt, then the percentage of your fault could be increased. If it is increased to 51 percent, you will not be able to seek damages from the other driver.