Is Not Wearing a Seatbelt Considered Contributory Negligence?
In North Carolina, it’s illegal to not wear a seat belt. Regardless of age, or whether you’re the driver or a passenger, everyone is required to wear a seat belt. We’ve all seen the ad campaigns and the “click it or ticket” slogan to encourage drivers to wear their seatbelts, and hopefully this is a law that we all take very seriously. Seat belts save lives: they protect not just you, but other passengers in your car as well.
However, let’s say one day you forgot to put on your seatbelt. And while you were driving through an intersection, a car coming from the other direction runs the light and crashes into your car. Your car is damaged and you’ve sustained more injuries because you weren’t wearing a seat belt. The accident was in no way your fault. Apart from not wearing your seat belt, you were obeying the laws of the road. Would you still be able to claim insurance money? Or would your lack of seat belt be considered contributory negligence?
It is important to know that North Carolina rejects what is known as the “seatbelt defense.” A case in 1968 (Miller v. Miller) ruled that failure to wear a seat belt might mean that the amount paid out could be lessened because your injuries could have been less substantial had you been wearing a seat belt. Again, no matter what, please be safe on the roads, and buckle up.
Oxner + Permar encourages all drivers to wear a seatbelt. If you have any questions regarding what constitutes contributory negligence in the instance in which a driver is not wearing a seatbelt, be sure to contact an attorney.