Unfortunately, the short answer to your question is “Yes”. However, the value of your claim may be significantly or barely effected by your failure to wear a seat belt.
For example, if you were sitting in the backseat of the vehicle, Florida law does not require you to wear a seat belt. Therefore, your failure to wear a seat belt probably would not be very relevant to your personal injury claim.
However, if you were sitting in the front seat, you were violating Florida law by not wearing a seat belt. This most certainly will be raised by the defendant or his insurance company when negotiating your personal injury claim.
Additionally, in order to be a valid defense to a personal injury claim, the defendant must prove that wearing a seat belt would have reduced or eliminated the kind of injury complained-of by the injury victim. Generally, this requires some medical or biomechanical engineering testimony.
Sometimes, the failure to wear a seat belt will clearly make no difference to the injury. For example, if the roof of the vehicle is crushed in a crash, the injury victim suffers a brain injury, there is probably very little that a seat belt could have done to protect this from happening or to reduce the injury.
On the other hand, when vehicle occupants are ejected from their vehicles during a crash, failure to wear a seat belt is almost always a serious contributing factor.
If you have any questions regarding seat belts and the seat belt defense, call Orlando personal injury attorneys Cullen-Hemphill at 407-644-4444.