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seat belt lawThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has calculated that in 2017 alone, seatbelts saved 14,955 lives in the U.S. and could have saved an additional 2,549 lives if those who had perished in crashes had been wearing seatbelts. There is no question that seatbelts save lives. Yet, for various reasons, many Californians are hesitant to wear them. If you have questions about California seatbelt mandates or your rights and options under the law, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates, PC. You can always schedule a free legal consultation by calling 949-727-9300 or contacting us online

Car And Truck Occupants

California requires all car and truck operators, as well as all car and truck passengers, to be properly belted when these vehicles are in motion. Adults may be cited for failure to wear a belt, and they may be cited if any occupants under the age of 16 are not properly fastened in their seats. A seat belt citation will cost more than $150, and the total goes up to more than $450 if a child is not adequately restrained.  

Bus Occupants

While most states don’t require seat belt usage on buses, California is the exception. For example, California is the only state in the union that mandates lap and shoulder belts on school buses. Buckle up if you’re traveling by a four-wheeled vehicle on a California road. 

Car Seat Mandates

Children under two must ride in a secured, rear-facing system until they reach 40 pounds or a height of three feet four inches. Children under the age of eight who have not yet reached a height of four feet nine inches must be secured in a forward-facing system that has been federally approved. Only after reaching the age of eight or a height of four feet nine inches may a child wear a standard adult seatbelt. 

Why Seat Belt Observance Matters

The most important reason to wear a seatbelt is to keep yourself as safe as possible in the event of a motor vehicle collision. However, a secondary reason exists to “click it” before putting a vehicle in motion. In the event that you’re involved in an accident, if you are not properly belted, you could be held responsible for a significant degree of your harm, even if you are otherwise faultless concerning the circumstances leading to the crash. 

California is known as a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that when someone is injured in an accident in California, they remain entitled to sue others who are partially responsible for their harm, even if they are also partially at fault for the harm they’ve sustained. Regarding seatbelts, an accident victim may be held accountable for a percentage of fault for a crash simply because they weren’t buckled up at the time of impact. The logic behind this fault determination is that if the victim had been properly belted, the harm they sustained likely wouldn’t have been as severe.

Say, for example, that you were otherwise blameless in a crash scenario where you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. The value of your harm is calculated to be $250,000. You are assigned 20% of the blame. Although you’re still entitled to pursue $200,000 in damages from others responsible for the crash, you’ll need to shoulder the burden of the remaining $50,000 in related costs due to your failure to observe California’s seat belt laws. In short, even if you find them to be annoying, always use seat belts when you’re driving or traveling as a passenger in motor vehicles operating on California roads. 

Call an Orange County Car Accident Attorney Today!

The legal team at the Law Offices of Samer Habbas is dedicated to helping our injured clients reach the best monetary settlement when they are involved in any type of accidents.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident and seriously injured, our experienced Orange County car accident attorneys are available to personally review your case. Call us at 949-727-9300 to schedule a free, complimentary consultation with our legal team today.

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Our firm is well experienced in injury matters and we understand the difficult time you are going through. We will guide you through the process and fight for you and your family to get the compensation you deserve.

Samer Habbas