Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim If I Wasn’t Wearing a Safety Belt?

As a Virginia personal injury lawyer,  I’m often asked the question “Can I make a personal injury claim if I wasn’t wearing a safety belt?”

A surprising number of people injured in car accidents contact us worried they cannot make a personal injury claim because they were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the wreck.

Given the number of calls we receive, I’m concerned there are many people out there forgoing their right to pursue an injury claim, and their right to be reimbursed for medical expenses, under a mistaken belief they do not have a case just because they were not wearing a safety belt.

While we encourage people to always wear a safety belt, the law could not be clearer:  the insurance company and their lawyers cannot use the fact you were not wearing a safety belt against you.

Making a personal injury claim when you didn't wear a safety belt

A public information poster from 1941. However, not wearing a safety belt won't impact your injury claim

Under the law, your case is no different from someone who was wearing a safety belt.  Not wearing a safety belt is not a defense the insurance company or its lawyers can use against you.  Even if the officer gave you a ticket for not wearing your safety belt, as long as the accident was not your fault, then it will have no bearing on your case.

I Wasn’t Wearing a Safety Belt – Why You Can Still Make a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia

Under Virginia Code §46.2-1094(D), the law explicitly states that “a violation of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising from the operation… of a motor vehicle….”

This Virginia law is the friend of anyone injured in an accident who was not wearing a safety belt.  This law prevents the insurance company from arguing you were negligent because you were not wearing a safety belt.

The law requires negligent parties to take their victims as they find them.  Second, the insurance companies and their lawyers are not allowed to argue that you deserve less compensation because you would not have been injured as badly if you had used your safety belt.  Finally, the insurance companies and their lawyers are not even allowed to mention at trial that you were not wearing a safety belt.

A negligent driver who rear-ends and injures someone at a stop light, for example, should not be held less responsible just because the occupant of the car was not wearing a safety belt.  This great law keeps the focus on the real wrongdoer, and prevents the insurance company from inappropriately pointing the finger and blaming the injured person.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, through no fault of your own, do not let the fact you were not wearing a safety belt influence your decision to pursue a personal injury claim.

If you were injured but were not wearing a safety belt, don’t be deterred from making a claim. Call me at (757) 455-0077 or contact us via this form.

Bill O'Mara

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