What Happens if I Wasn't Wearing a Seat Belt in My Car Accident?

Seat belts are a huge safety feature when driving, and they saved 15,000 lives in 2017 alone. That is why most states have seatbelt laws in place to promote their importance. When you fail to wear a seat belt, not only does it increase the risk of a severe injury, but in many other states, it can be used by an insurer to reduce or deny your compensation. Fortunately, in Virginia, you might still have a claim.

How Failing To Wear a Seat Belt Can Affect Your Compensation

If you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of a car accident, then it’s only natural that some of the responsibility for your injuries might fall on you. In Virginia, the courts operate under the harsh law of contributory negligence. This law bars you from recovering any compensation from the other driver if you are at all to blame for a collision. Even if you were only 1% at fault, you cannot pursue a claim. This rule impacts your case if it makes it to trial but also guides an insurance adjuster’s willingness to settle. For example, if you pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company and the adjuster decides your claim based on how they believe the court will rule, they will not offer you fair compensation if there is evidence that you contributed to the collision.

Fortunately, Virginia law forbids using the failure to wear a seat belt as a reason to bar you from compensation. Under the state statute, not wearing a seat belt is not an example of negligence and cannot be used to reduce the value of your claim or deny it.

What is Virginia’s Seat Belt Law?

All drivers and passengers sitting in front must wear a seat belt, as well as passengers in the back under the age of 18. If found in violation of this law, you can be fined up to $25. For adults over 18, Virginia’s seat belt law is a secondary enforcement law. That means a police officer cannot pull a driver over for only a seat belt violation but can fine you for it if they pull you over for a different violation, such as speeding.

Virginia Rear-Facing Car Seat Law

Children under the age of 2 will travel in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the height and weight limit set by the seat manufacturer.

Virginia Forward-Facing Car Seat Law

Once children reach the car seat manufacturer’s weight and height limit, they must travel in a forward-facing car seat.

Child Booster Seat Laws in Virginia

Children under the age of eight must travel in a child restraint system. When they have outgrown a forward-facing car seat based on the manufacturer’s limits, they must graduate to a booster seat.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

Navigating a car accident claim on your own can be challenging, even if not wearing a seat belt can’t be used against you. The insurance company will look for any reason to shift blame onto you to avoid liability. An attorney will ensure that you are treated fairly and not taken advantage of.