Most states have a catchy seat belt slogan, for instance, Indiana’s slogan is “click it or ticket”. Seat belt laws vary between states; but likely due to the crash statistics, many are becoming stricter and more heavily enforced. Front seat car passengers reduce their risk of fatal injury by 45% by wearing their safety belt. Additionally, the force of an airbag can seriously injure vehicle occupants involved in a crash who fail to wear their seat belt. Further, a majority of states have monetary fines in place for individuals who violate state seat belt laws. If you were involved in a car accident without wearing your seat belt, it is important to know the laws of your state to understand how it may impact your personal injury case.
Indiana’s seat belt law requires “each occupant of a motor vehicle equipped with a safety belt that” meets the federal standard and is installed by the manufacturer, “shall have a safety belt properly fastened about the occupant’s body at all times when the vehicle in forwarding motion.” Other states, like Alabama, only require front seat occupants to wear their safety belts. However, serious injuries can occur in low impact crashes, high impact crashes, on the interstate or a county road, whether someone is driving a large vehicle or small vehicle, and even when passengers are wearing their seat belt.
Indiana seat belt law provides that an occupant’s failure to wear their seat belt does not constitute fault and is not a defense in a personal injury claim. Evidence of an occupant’s failure to wear their safety belt may not be admitted in a civil action to mitigate damages, for example, reduce the damages awarded. In an Indiana case, City of Fort Wayne v. Parrish, the court held that evidence of a passenger not wearing her seat belt when involved in a car crash was not admissible to prove she was contributorily negligent for her injuries. Thus, evidence of your failure to wear a safety belt when involved in a car accident cannot be used by defendants in a personal injury case to show you contributed to your injuries.
However, it is important for vehicle occupants to wear their seat belts regularly. Not only is it the law, but car accidents are unexpected, and wearing a safety belt can lower your chances of fatal and serious injuries. Regardless of vehicle size or occupant age, serious injuries result from car crashes and our experienced attorneys will work to earn the compensation you deserve.