Everyone knows the importance of wearing a seatbelt. The device can help prevent ejection from a vehicle in a roll over. It can also prevent an occupant from being thrown into the dashboard. So what if a person is not exercising good judgment and fails to buckle up? Well, for one thing it can mean a ticket. It can also mean you lose part of your rights to recover damages if injured in an accident. In Oregon, if a careless driver runs into your car and you suffer an injury, the driver can argue the reason you were hurt is because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. While this seems odd, the law has been on the books now for some time. One of the first questions an insurance company asks after a collision is whether you were buckled up. If not, they will use this admission against you in any injury claim you decide to bring. Fortunately, when the law was passed, the legislature put in a provision that the limits your responsibility to 5%. In other words, should your case go to court you stand to lose only 5% of your damages for not buckling up. The rule in Washington is just the opposite. If a driver is careless and injures you in Washington, no evidence of your lack of seatbelt usage is allowed at trial.
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