The Barnes Firm

close up of a person buckling their seat belt

Can I Sue For Compensation If I Wasn’t Wearing A Seat Belt?

Can I Sue For Compensation If I Wasn’t Wearing A Seat Belt?

The United States adopted federal seat belt legislation on January 1, 1968, which required all vehicles (except for buses) to be fitted with seat belts in all seating positions. Since then, seat belts have saved countless lives and reduced the severity of potential injuries in car accidents. If you were hurt in a car accident while not wearing a seat belt, you might be wondering if you can still file a claim for compensation or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver?

The short answer is, yes, you can; however, due to the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt, the court may perceive you as acting negligently, thus contributing to your own injuries. Ultimately, although you can collect damages, you might receive a smaller sum if you did not wear a seat belt than you would have had otherwise. 

Seat Belt Law Applies to Children and Adults

New York and California require people to wear their safety belts in the car at all times, including all passengers. A child who does not wear a seat belt or who is not placed in an age-appropriate child restraint or booster seat may cause the driver to receive a ticket and points against his or her driver’s license.

What is the Seat Belt Defense?

California and New York are two of several states which permits the seat belt defense in personal injury claims. At-fault drivers may claim this defense when fighting against an injured party’s claim for damages. Under this defense, the victim can be found to bear all or a portion of the cost of their injuries if it was determined that they failed to wear a seat belt when the accident occurred. The seat belt defense reduces the amount of compensation the victim may recover for damages.

Defendants relying on the seat belt defense must show the following:

  • The plaintiff had seat belts available;
  • The plaintiff unreasonably failed to use the seat belt before the accident;
  • The plaintiff’s failure to wear the seat belt caused him or her to sustain aggravated injuries or aggravated injuries which would have been less severe with the seat belt.

Many opposed to the seat belt defense claim that it attempts to pass the blame for the crash onto the victim, while those who believe it is sound policy believe that it encourages the use of seat belts, which save lives. Ultimately, if you were hurt in a car crash in which you did not use a seat belt, your lawyer will have to prove that you were not responsible for the injuries you sustained.

Obtaining Compensation after a Crash with No Seat belt

Just because your auto accident claim might be slightly reduced if you did not wear a seat belt, does not mean that it is not worth pursuing. The experienced car crash lawyers with The Barnes Firm will know just what information to look for in your accident claim to show the court that you deserve the full value of your claim.

We have decades of combined experience fighting for victims’ rights throughout the country, and will not take a fee until we win your case. Contact us at any time to speak with an attorney near you for a free consultation.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000

“The Barnes Firm did an excellent job on my car accident case. Jade was extremely helpful at answering all of my questions.”

Ghyar A.

“The Barnes Firm was very friendly, always quick to respond to our calls and emails. When we had any questions or concerns, they were there to walk us through everything. I would definitely recommend them to anyone that is looking for an attorney that will honestly fight for you and has your best interest in mind.”

Nichole W.

“They handled everything with my accident and got me the maximum amount of money back, more than I thought I would get! Thanks!!”

Philip F.