Failure to Use a Seatbelt is Usually Not Admissible in Personal Injury Claims

by John
(Frederick, MD)

Even though most states now have mandatory seat belt laws, the failure to use a seatbelt is almost never inadmissible either to reduce the amount of money a person may recover for their personal injury claim, or to prove contributory negligence.

Even in those few states where the nonuse of a seatbelt can be raised in defense of a personal injury claim (including Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado), the Defendant must be able to present evidence that the failure to wear a safety belt or harness contributed to the specific injury being claimed. In those states, the Defendant may be able to raise the argument that by not using an available and working seatbelt, the injured person assumed the risk of injury.

However, proof that the injured person knew and understood the risk of not wearing a seatbelt and the voluntary acceptance of that risk would be essential. This would rule out at least most personal injury claims made by minors.

This article is written for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel. We encourage all vehicle occupants, drivers and passengers included, to ride safely.

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