Filing an Insurance Claim

You may file a civil lawsuit against a negligent driver who has injured you in a car accident even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt. Before going to court, though, your first step will probably be to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Wages lost due to time off work for treatment/recovery
  • Pain and suffering

Even though your failure to wear a seat belt cannot be used as evidence against you in court if your case goes to trial, the negligent driver’s insurance company could cite your non-compliance with the law as a reason to offer you an unfairly low settlement. Adjusters could deny your claim or offer you unfair compensation, believing you’re not apt to sue them. 

If you do have a lawyer, however, your attorney will work to get you a fair settlement by taking the following steps if necessary:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation to prove the at-fault driver’s liability
  • Calling in expert witnesses such as an accident reconstruction worker
  • Obtaining footage from nearby video cameras
  • Organizing and presenting your medical evidence convincingly
  • Putting a dollar amount on your pain and suffering to evaluate your claim
  • Negotiating with the insurance company and demanding a reasonable award
  • Fighting for you in court if your case goes to trial

Protecting Your Claim

If you’re injured while driving without a seat belt in a Charleston car crash, there are several things you can do at the scene to strengthen and protect your claim. If you’re physically able to do so after the wreck, you should:

  • Move to a safe area. 
  • Call 911 to report the accident.
  • Take photos of all vehicles involved in the wreck, as well as the accident scene.
  • Get names and contact information from any witnesses to the crash.
  • Exchange information with the other driver(s), but don’t discuss the wreck.
  • Don’t admit any fault to anyone.
  • Seek medical attention right away even if you don’t feel you’ve been seriously injured. 
  • Notify your insurance company.
  • Consult a lawyer.


Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.