In previous blogs on my website, we have discussed the mind-boggling fact that Massachusetts drivers rank among the worst users of seat belts! As of 2017, we moved to 45th in the nation from a low of 48th, but our usage dropped. Just last year, our drivers were restrained an average of 78.2% of the time while driving. Current statistics have our drivers buckling up at only 74 %. Our sister state, New Hampshire, is dead last at just over 70%.
The safest state is Georgia, which boasts an amazing rate of 97.2 %, and the national average is 90%. Does this mean that our southern brothers and sisters are smarter than us when it comes to commonsense? Massachusetts has the finest institutions of higher education in the world and our progressive laws and policies are studied and copied in other states. But we somehow have lost our direction, or our minds, when it comes to the simple practice of wearing a seat belt.
A traffic safety advocate, Mary Maguire of AAA Northeast, commented that you are 30% more likely to be ejected from a vehicle if not belted. Once you are ejected, your chances of surviving are slim–only 15% to 20%. Being ejected means going through the windshield or out a side door. If you do survive, expect your injuries to be catastrophic. We have represented families whose family member was ejected and suffered a wrongful death.
Are Seat Belt Laws Contributing?
Massachusetts is one of 15 states where seat belt violations are a secondary offense. This means that an officer cannot stop you and cite you for a violation unless you are pulled over for a separate violation. Attempts to change this law have been turned down in the past but legislators are pushing for a new law that would make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense.
Just as a comparison, Georgia is one of the 35 states where seat belt violations are a primary offense. New Hampshire does not make usage a violation at all unless the driver and passengers are under 18. Is there a correlation here?
Legal Consequences of Not Wearing a Seat Belt in an Accident
Suppose you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts that was caused by another motorist and you were not wearing a seat belt. Proof of your not wearing one is not admissible for your injury case, but it can be a violation in a criminal case. Thus, you may have a civil case for pain and suffering, but be a defendant in a criminal case!
Damages in a Car Accident Claim
The amount of damages in a car accident claim vary according to the nature and extent of your injuries. Most claims include these damages:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Consult The Law Offices of Neil Burns
Trust your car accident injury claim to an attorney with 30-years experience defending the rights of injured claimants throughout the state. Neil Burns is a car accident lawyer who has handled the most complex cases, including those persons injured in accidents where they were not wearing a seat belt, and has still obtained reasonable compensation for his clients. Contact his office today at (617) 227-7423 if you want an opportunity to get the most compensation for your accident claim.