Can Not Wearing a Seatbelt Affect My Personal Injury Case in Pennsylvania?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
May 29, 2024
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If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation if another driver’s careless actions caused the collision. Auto accidents, especially those involving personal injury claims, highlight the critical role of seat belt use and the legal nuances surrounding them, not just in Pennsylvania but across various jurisdictions. These damages may include lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and psychological trauma resulting from the crash. But what if you weren’t wearing a seat belt? Do you still have legal rights to make a car accident injury claim against the at-fault party?

Fortunately for crash victims, failure to wear a seat belt doesn’t count as negligence under Pennsylvania’s comparative fault laws and therefore won’t affect your car accident claim. Additionally, evidence of such actions can’t be used at trial. If you’re facing the devastating consequences of a motor vehicle collision—even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt—the skilled and experienced car accident attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, who are also personal injury attorneys, might be able to advocate on your behalf.

What Are Pennsylvania’s Seat Belt Laws?

Federal law didn’t require seat belts in cars until 1968. Since then, seat belts have become a standard safety feature in all types of personal vehicles. In fact, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all drivers and passengers of motor vehicles who are over the age of 18 are legally mandated to wear seat belts. This law underscores the critical importance of wearing seat belts not only as a safety measure but also as a legal requirement to avoid penalties. In addition, children under the age of 4 must be adequately restrained in a child safety seat, children under 2 must be fastened in a rear-facing car seat, and children ages 4–8 must be in an appropriate booster seat.

If you’re pulled over for another violation, you may receive a second ticket if you or your front-seat passengers aren’t wearing seat belts. However, when it comes to car accident injury claims, failing to wear a seat belt can’t be evidence of negligence, but it’s important to note that wearing seat belts is a legal requirement in most states and not wearing one can significantly affect the outcome of a personal injury claim. This is because the absence of a seat belt at the time of an accident could potentially introduce the seat belt defense, allowing the defense to argue that the injuries sustained were more severe due to the failure to wear a seat belt, which could reduce the compensation for injuries.

Understanding Comparative Negligence and Pennsylvania Seat Belt Laws

Comparative negligence laws outlined in Pennsylvania General Assembly Statute §7102 state that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence doesn’t bar them from seeking compensation for damages in a personal injury case as long as they were less negligent than the defendant. Under comparative fault law, each party in a negligence claim is appointed a percentage of fault. That is, if you were injured in a car accident, you may hold a level of responsibility for the accident and still recover compensation in a personal injury claim.

Examples of negligence may include speeding through a traffic light, texting while driving, or aggressively speeding. Under certain circumstances, both drivers involved may be held liable for the crash in personal injury claims. When this is the case, it’s important to note that failure to wear a seat belt isn’t considered negligence under Pennsylvania’s comparative fault laws, but it can introduce the seat belt defense in a personal injury lawsuit, where the defense might argue that the failure to wear a seat belt contributed to the severity of injuries. Pennsylvania Statutes Title 75 states the following:

“[N]or shall failure to use a child passenger restraint system, child booster seat or safety seat belt system be considered as contributory negligence nor shall failure to use such a system be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action…”

However, not wearing a seat belt can lead to more severe injuries, which is a critical factor in the evaluation of personal injury claims. If the insurance company representing the at-fault party argues that the injuries you experienced arose because you weren’t wearing a seat belt, employing the seat belt defense to potentially reduce compensation, it’s essential that you seek the help of an experienced Montgomery County car accident attorney who can navigate these complexities and fight for your rights.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Montgomery County

If you were injured in a car accident, you might still have a viable claim even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford will meet with you one-on-one to discuss any impending legal action and will help you determine the most strategic method to compensate you for any lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and psychological trauma associated with the crash. Our personal injury lawyer team specializes in navigating the complexities of car accident claims, including those involving personal injury protection (PIP) under Florida’s ‘no-fault’ auto insurance system, ensuring you understand the protections and coverage available to you.

For more than 65 years, our attorneys have been serving clients’ legal needs in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems. Our attorneys serve to protect you and guard your rights. Give us a call at (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
May 29, 2024
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.