Is not wearing my seatbelt Contributory Negligence in Virginia?

Often, when speaking with insurance adjusters regarding my client’s Virginia car accident case, they point out that my client may have not been wearing their seatbelt when the crash happened.  In some instances, they imply that this behavior constitutes Contributory Negligence, which may bar my client’s claim. Alternatively, they argue that had they been wearing their seatbelt, my client wouldn’t have been as seriously injuried.

When talking to insurance adjusters, don’t just assume what they say is right.

Every time, I come armed with Virginia Code Section 46.2-1094 (D), which provides:

A violation of this section shall not constitute negligence, be considered in mitigation of damages of whatever nature, be admissible in evidence or be the subject of comment by counsel in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, nor shall anything in this section change any existing law, rule, or procedure pertaining to any such civil action.

What this means is that a person’s failure to wear a seatbelt does not constitute Contributory Negligence under Virginia Law.  What’s more, this fact cannot be used to argue that an individual’s damages should have been less.  Indeed, they aren’t even allowed to bring it up at trial. 

Does this mean you should drive without wearing a seatbelt?

No. It does not! Indeed, in fact, Section 46.2-1094 explicitly requires you to wear a seatbelt when in a car.  And provides for consequences if you fail to do so. So, it’s required by law.

Even more importantly, however, you should wear a seatbelt because they save lives.  I cannot tell you how many cases I’ve dealt with in which folks weren’t wearing their seatbelts and suffered devastating injuries.  And had they been wearing their belts, the outcomes would have most likely been very different.

In fact, NHTS estimated that in just 2017, almost 15,000 lives were saved because of seatbelt usage.  And this number doesn’t even account for devastating injuries that were avoided because of seatbelts.

Wearing a seatbelt isn’t just about you.

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely a mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, uncle or aunt.  Perhaps you have someone special in your life, or you have a great group of friends.  Maybe you serve an important role in your community or at your job. Wear your seatbelt for these folks. 

Still have questions?

Make sure to check out our Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Practice Pages where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have.  James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews.  Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.