Seatbelt Evidence Laws Spark Debate in Georgia
GA- Georgiarecorder.com writes about how in Georgia and 30 other states, evidence regarding a victim’s non-use of a seatbelt has not been permitted in personal injury trials for personal injury claims. This means that if a victim is severely injured or killed in a car crash, the person responsible for the collision cannot argue that the victim suffered those injuries because he or she failed to use a seatbelt.*
A victim’s non-use of a seatbelt would become evidence that could lead a jury to reduce an award to that injured person or that person’s family. Insurance companies are pushing to have this evidence admissible, stating that it impacts the case and the jury should have the right to weigh all of the relevant evidence. Insurers also argue that insurance premiums are high because trial awards are extremely expensive. Seatbelt usage information could cut down high jury awards in many cases.
Trial attorneys are on the other side of the issue and claim that insurance companies and defendants would assert that victims were not using seatbelts in just about every case. The injured party in this scenario would be forced, in many cases, to hire expensive experts to refute those claims. Attorneys say that insurance companies would feel empowered to deny many more payouts to injured people.
Georgia has a seatbelt law in effect, and a high rate of people in the state - 97 percent – who wear their seatbelts. Attorneys say that increasing the fine for failing to use a seatbelt could help discourage people from failing to use a seatbelt.
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