How Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Can Affect Your Personal Injury Case

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, of the 37,461 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, 48 percent of them were not wearing a seatbelt. The NHSA has estimated that in just 2016 seatbelts helped to save 14,668 lives. Needless to say, making the decision to wear a seatbelt is one of utmost importance.

Despite these alarming and very telling statistics, there are still some people who make the decision not to wear a seatbelt. When these people are involved in an accident through no fault of their own, but were not wearing their seatbelt, it begs the question as to whether it impacts the outcome of a personal injury case for the negligent driver.

Evidence of Seatbelt Use Proves Inadmissible

Under Virginia law, any driver of an automobile or any adult in the front seat of the vehicle must wear a seatbelt while the vehicle is in motion. However, this is not evidence admissible in civil actions for damages. A defense attorney is not permitted to bring up whether or not you were wearing your seatbelt in front of the jury. This is the same when it comes to issues of liability and damages – it is inadmissible.

The only way that a defendant driver in a personal injury case may avoid liability is if he or she can prove that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent in the collision. However, once again whether or not the plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt cannot be used as evidence of contributory negligence. The defendant driver cannot argue that the plaintiff’s injuries would have been less severe had the plaintiff been wearing a seatbelt. He or she will be found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries as long as the plaintiff can prove that the defendant acted in negligence concerning the operation of their vehicle and that that negligence was a proximate cause of their injuries.

Discouraging Negligent Driving

Although it may seem rather harsh, this rule makes sense for a couple of different reasons. Regardless of whether or not the plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt, he or she would never have been injured to begin with had it not been for the negligence of the other driver. Also equally important in defense of this rule is the state’s strong desire to deter individuals from driving negligently. Therefore, by placing the full extent of the responsibility for damages upon on the defendant, it will likely help to achieve this goal.

We Can Help!

If you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent driver, you should have a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on your side. At Alavi Law Group, PLLC, we understand how the law works and we will fight to get you what it is that you deserve. To learn more about our firm or to schedule a free consultation, you can find us online at or call us at 703-214-9821 today!

Posted in: Personal Injury