Seat Belt Usage Up in the United States

You weren't going far. Maybe you just wanted to drive two blocks to the store. Maybe you were moving your car down the street. Either way, you didn't put your seat belt on. You always do, but you didn't do it that day. Then, of course, you were hit by another driver and you were hurt. Can you still seek compensation for your injuries?

State Laws

The reality is that it depends where you live. This is governed by state law and it is different in different states. There is no blanket answer that covers all cases.

In some states, you may be able to seek compensation, but you simply won't get as much. They may claim your injuries were only as bad as they were because of the lack of a seat belt. With one on, for instance, you may have just had a cut and some bruising on your arm. Without the belt, you hit the steering wheel harder and broke your arm. The court may not force the other driver -- even if he or she caused the accident -- to pay for injuries that shouldn't have happened if you hadn't broken seat belt laws. However, the court will still give you something, acknowledging that the other driver was at fault and you wouldn't have been in a wreck at all without his or her actions.

In some cases, though, your ability to seek compensation can be negated entirely.

Comparative Negligence

The seat belt defense may be used in states like Ohio, which use comparative negligence laws. Essentially, these laws mean that both parties may be given a percentage of the responsibility, and then compensation is paid accordingly. Not wearing a seat belt could increase your own responsibility for your injuries, even when most of it falls on the other driver.

Seeking Compensation

If you were hurt in an accident, no matter how it happened, you need to know your rights. Be sure to look into all of your options for compensation.