CAN DAMAGES BE RECOVERED WHEN NOT WEARING SEAT BELT AT THE TIME OF ACCIDENT?

Across the country, there are about 16 states that have litigation on claimants called the ‘seat belt defense’. This seat belt defense decreases the amount of the settlement fee if the claimant wasn’t wearing seat belt at the time of the accident even if the other driver was purely at fault.

The seat belt defense is not yet an equally adopted form of law in the U.S. It remains a controversial topic with one side against it saying that the rule is harsh and unfair while the other side supporting it says that as the law requires the usage of seat belt, it should be dealt by law on violation.

It is more closely practiced in the liability laws of some particular jurisdictions. The seat belt defense when ascertaining who was at fault in causing the accident or injury goes right into the centre of the liability analysis. That means whoever is a victim in that particular jurisdiction, if not having a seat belt worn at the time of the accident will be noted by the insurance adjuster, the jury, and the judge. The outcome will be the claimant not being awarded the full compensation intended.

Most of the U.S states, however, have not approved the seat belt defense. They, instead, use the principles of comparative negligence and other legal methods in determining who is at fault and mandate settlements for the damages from the liable third parties. Which means, the victim even when not wearing the seat belt at the time of the incident, will be awarded the full compensation by the insurance companies, thereby not bringing this factor as evidence to trial. Nevertheless, the use of seat belts is also mandated by these states too.

Some states, where the law is applied, also function around it by reducing and limiting the percentage of the auto accident claim to 15 percent as most of the state sees this act as unfair and harsh.