The slogan “Click It Or Ticket” is one most drivers are familiar with. This memorable phrase reminds drivers to buckle their seatbelts or face legal consequences, including fines. However, there is an equally important phrase drivers should remember, albeit, far less catchy. Before driving, drivers should also think “Click It Or Be Comparatively Negligent.”
The Michigan No-Fault Act follows a modified version of the legal doctrine called “comparative negligence.” Under this doctrine, the damages an injured party is able to recover from an at-fault driver are reduced by the injured party’s own level of fault. For example, if an injured party is found to be 25% at-fault, perhaps because the injured party was speeding, such action could be taken into consideration by the jury, or the insurance adjuster, to reduce the injured party’s compensation award by 25 %. Continuing with this example, if the injured party had damages of $100,000, the overall compensation award would be reduced by $25,000, resulting in a net award of $75,000.
Some states adhere to a pure “comparative negligence” meaning that an injured party can recover damages even if the injured party is assigned 99% fault for the accident. In such a case, the injured party can still recover 1% of the damages assessed from the at-fault driver. As stated above, Michigan has adopted a modified version of comparative negligence. In Michigan, if an injured party is assigned more than 50% fault for the accident, the injured party is prevented from recovering any damages from the at-fault driver.
Comparative negligence is important in regard to seat belts because failure to wear the same can automatically reduce an injured-party’s compensation award. Michigan law states that “failure to wear a safety belt . . . may be considered evidence of negligence and may reduce the damages” arising from an auto accident. However, failure to wear a seatbelt may not reduce a compensation award by more than 5%. As such, each time a driver fails to “click it” that driver may be forfeiting 5% in potential damages in the event the driver is injured in an accident. Thus, the choice seems clear, “Click It Or Be Comparatively Negligent.”
Barberi Law has the experience and knowledge to help injured parties navigate the complicated, and ever changing, system of no-fault insurance in Michigan. We have helped hundreds of injured parties recover significant compensation awards from at-fault drivers. If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident do not hesitate to contact Barberi Law.