When it comes to proper driving etiquette and safety – especially when you’re an inexperienced teenager who has only recently acquired your driver’s license – few things are more important than the wearing of seat belts. Neglecting to wear a seat belt could result in serious injury or even death if you’re involved in an accident; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens and young adults often have the lowest seat belt use rates, and among teen drivers and passengers 16–19 years of age who died in car accidents in 2019, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
While New York has been rated as the safest state in the country for teen drivers in 2021, automobile crashes are nonetheless the main cause of death for teens aged 16 to 19; in addition, while teens and young adults aged 15 to 24 account for just 14 percent of the population in the United States, this group is also responsible for approximately a third of all car accident-related costs.
However, research has conclusively shown that the most important thing a driver of any age can do to improve their changes of avoiding death in an accident – and reducing the chance of serious injury – is to wear a seat belt at all times when the vehicle is in operation.
Seat belts serve a plethora of vital functions when it comes to protecting you, including preventing you from being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash; stopping you from being impacted against the hard interior surfaces of the vehicle, such as the dashboard or steering wheel; and distributing impact across your body more evenly, which helps to prevent trauma to more vulnerable body parts.
In any one of these scenarios, wearing a seat belt can indeed save your life; for example, having your body ejected through a windshield can result in death or critical injuries, so it always pays to buckle up.
Unfortunately, many drivers and passengers make the choice not to wear seat belts, especially young adults aged 18 to 34; in addition, men of all ages are less likely to wear them than women.
Of course, there’s always a convenient excuse for not wearing a seat belt, with people saying anything from them being uncomfortable or inconvenient to wanting to look cool for friends or not feeling they are necessary for a quick trip to the corner store.
However, these excuses are just that- excuses. Reports indicate that 15,000 lives were saved in 2019 thanks to seat belt usage, so it’s obvious that they work and contribute greatly to the safety and well-being of drivers nationwide.
If you end up having a car accident, whether or not you were wearing a seat belt at the time – you could look to get compensation for any personal injuries or damage to your vehicle; typically, your auto insurance policy would cover some of the damages you have suffered, but every policy has its limits, and if you’ve reached yours, it’s always possible to file a claim with the insurance company covering the other participant in the accident.
Issues related to car accidents you can potentially receive compensation for include past and future medical bills; lost wages and earning ability; pain, suffering, and disfigurement; property damage, and much more.
In addition, if you have lost a relative or loved one in an accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit that could compensate your for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and a variety of other maladies and misfortunes.
If you have been involved in a car accident, New York State gives you three years to file a claim to cover compensation for injuries, damage, and distress; when it comes to wrongful death claims, plaintiffs have two years. However, certain extenuating circumstances may extend those deadlines, including the death of a minor. But regardless, it’s always best to begin any legal actions relating to a car accident as soon as humanly possible to ensure the best possible outcome and allow you to get on with your life.
Do you need to know more about the risks of not wearing a seat belt? Have you been injured in a motor vehicle crash? Contact the accident attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at 866-878-6774 now or fill out our simple form for a free consultation.