Can Not Wearing a Seat Belt Impact My Car Accident Claim in Virginia?

Seat belt

Whether you simply forgot to wear a seat belt or chose to travel without one, it affects your recovery of compensation for injuries suffered in an accident caused by another motorist. Virginia seat belt laws state that drivers, front seat passengers ages 18 and over, and all passengers under 18 years must wear a seat belt in a moving vehicle. However, this does not automatically indicate you cannot pursue a claim against the at-fault driver. Speak with an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer to understand your legal options. 

At Waterman Law Centers, PLLC, we tirelessly have advocated for countless car accident victims, recovering compensation for their present and future losses. With over 40 years of award-winning service, we know the time-tested ways to build a strong claim on your behalf, even if you were not wearing a seat belt during a car accident. We tirelessly guide you through the legal process to obtain a favorable outcome. 

Virginia Seat Belt Laws 

Seat belts are essential to ensuring road safety and reducing the severity of injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. In Virginia, specific laws are in place to protect drivers and passengers by mandating the use of seat belts. All drivers and any other front-seat vehicle occupants 18 years or older must wear a seat belt. Also, passengers under 18 must wear a seat belt at all times, regardless of seating position. 

While most drivers follow seat belt laws on every trip, some drivers still do not. It is estimated that 2,549 lives could have been saved in 2017 alone if all vehicle occupants had opted to use seat belts. 

How Contributory Negligence Impacts Your Virginia Car Accident Claim 

Virginia has a strict contributory negligence rule: a victim cannot recover damages if he or she contributed to the accident. This means that causally-related acts of negligence by the victim automatically bars him or her from pursuing a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Thankfully, not wearing a seat belt does not constitute negligence. Virginia Code § 46.2-1094 states that violating Virginia’s seat belt laws does not prevent victims from pursuing a civil claim against an at-fault motorist.

However, a victim’s failure to wear a seatbelt can be considered by the judge and jury in mitigation of the personal injury damages for which the offending motorist is liable.  This is to say, if wearing a seatbelt would have resulted in less injuries, the victim can be compensated less. Hence, medical expert testimony becomes critical in such injury causation.

Although under the law, accident victims are able to pursue a car accident claim if they failed to use a seat belt, securing a fair and equitable outcome still is very challenging without an experienced car accident lawyer and expert on your side. Because insurance companies seek to protect their own bottom line, they will often seize any opportunity to deny or devalue a victim’s right to compensation.

Recoverable Damages in a Successful Car Accident Claim 

When pursuing a car accident claim, your recoverable compensation depends on various factors, including the specific details of your accident, the extent of your injuries, and applicable laws that affect your claim. The following are potential economic and non-economic damages that are available based on your circumstances: 

  • Pain, suffering and inconvenience 
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Continuing disability and limitations
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Mental anguish

Consult an experienced car accident lawyer to assess your case and provide tailored legal guidance. We work tirelessly to protect your legal interests and advocate for the maximum compensation you deserve. 

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Waterman Law Centers, PLLC 

Navigating a car accident claim on your own is complex, especially if you were not wearing a seat belt during the accident. At Waterman Law Centers, PLLC, we have the resources, skills and tenacity to help you recover the compensation you deserve. 

Attorney Avery T. “Sandy” Waterman, Jr., Esq. was named to The Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury during 2007-2023, and was voted its “Lawyer of the Year” for Personal Injury by his peers in Southeast Virginia in 2022; and Waterman Law Centers has been listed as a Metropolitan Tier 1 Best Law Firm for Personal Injury in U.S. News & World Report for 2021-2023.

Schedule a complimentary consultation today by calling (757) 881-9881 or filling out our contact form.