Does Connecticut Recognize The “Safety Belt Defense” In A Car Accident Case?
According to Connecticut’s seat belt laws (CT Gen Stat § 14-100a (2015)), “failure to wear a seat safety belt” cannot be used as evidence in court nor can it be considered evidence of contributory negligence. In other words, if you are not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the collision, the other driver cannot say that you are to blame for your injuries because you were not obeying the state’s seat belt laws. However, this rule does not prevent insurance companies from trying to argue the point during settlement negotiations.
Insurance companies take advantage of the fact that many people do not know the laws regarding contributory negligence and comparative negligence. They will not tell you that it cannot use these arguments to try to lower your compensation. Our attorneys protect you from these unfair tactics. We know the laws regarding car accidents and personal injury claims. We use our knowledge and experience to help you recover the maximum compensation allowable by law for your claim.
What is the Safety Belt Defense?
Connecticut Safety Belt Law requires that all drivers and passengers in the front seat wear seat belts. Children between the ages of four years and 16 years are required to wear seat belts regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle. Children who are under the age of four years and weigh less than 40 pounds must be secured in a safety child seat designed for the child’s age, weight, and height.
In some states, a driver can argue that if the accident victim was not wearing his or her seatbelt, the victim should not be entitled to full compensation. The reasoning behind a safety belt defense is that seat belts reduce the risk of injury and death in motor vehicle accidents. By not wearing your safety restraint, you are contributing to the cause of your injury. Therefore, your compensation should be reduced by the percentage of “fault” assigned to you for not buckling up.
Thankfully, negligent drivers and their insurance companies cannot try to use this argument in Connecticut. They may attempt to use the argument, and it may work with victims who do not have an attorney and do not know that law, but we protect our clients from this unfair and outrageous tactic used to devalue an injury claim.
Seat Belt Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that seat belt use saved 13,941 lives during 2015. Even though seat belts have been standard equipment in vehicles since 1968, many people did not begin wearing safety restraints until the state began to enact and enforce seat belt laws. Many people today still ignore the research and facts that seat belts save lives. It is estimated that 11.5 percent of Americans do not buckle up.
Unfortunately, ignoring the law costs billions of dollars in damages each year because of injuries and deaths sustained in motor vehicle accidents. This is one of the main reasons why insurance companies want to use the safety belt defense. Under the theory of comparative negligence, the insurance company could reduce what it must pay to settle an accident claim.
We Fight to Make the Insurance Companies Treat Victims Fairly
If the insurance company for the reckless driver who caused your accident tries to deny or reduce your claim based on this theory, call us immediately. We fight to ensure you are treated fairly by ensuring insurance companies abide by the laws in Connecticut.