Can I Sue If I Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt?
Can you sue for injuries in a car accident if you were not wearing a seatbelt? Yes. Even if the law requires that you wear a seatbelt in a car you can sue for injuries suffered despite not wearing a seatbelt. The law in New York is that all drivers, front seat passengers, and children be properly restrained by seat belts or other safety devices. If you are injured while not wearing a seatbelt you can sue for damages caused by the negligence of others, whether or not you were properly wearing a seatbelt. However, defendants may argue that they should not have to pay for any damages that would not have been suffered had an available seat belt been used. In such case the burden is on the defendant to show how the injuries would have been lessened had a seat belt been worn. New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1229-c mandates the use of a seatbelt by an operator and any front seat passenger 16 years of age or older. Further, it states that with the exception of passengers under the age of 4 (who must be in child seats) all individuals "seated in a sitting position equipped with both a lap safety belt and a shoulder harness belt" must utilize both. When an available seat belt is not worn and there is expert testimony from which the jury could find that some or all of the plaintiff's injuries would not have been incurred had the seat belt been worn, plaintiff cannot recover for such injuries. Obviously, both to comply with the law, and for safety reasons, you should always wear a seatbelt, even when in a taxi, car service, or limo. However, the failure to do so will not preclude you from suing. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in New York you should contact an experienced NY personal injury lawyer who handles motor vehicle accidents. Zalman Schnurman & Miner PC is a NY law firm that is experienced in handling motor vehicle cases, including obtaining recoveries for many people injured in car accidents who were not wearing seatbelts. For a free consultation call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) to discuss your rights. All cases are handled on a contingency fee basis and there is no fee if there is no recovery.