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How Not Wearing a Seat Belt in a Car Accident Impacts Claim Value

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), using seat belts in passenger vehicles saved the lives of around 18,000 people in 2017. Not wearing one, however, can cause significant injury to the driver or passengers following a car accident. It can even make it more difficult for you to receive fair compensation for your injuries in some cases. For example, insurance companies may try to use your failure to wear a seat belt, known as the “Seat Belt Defense”, in order to reduce the value of your claim.    

Seat Belt Defense

The Seat Belt Defense is a tactic that’s deployed by an insurance company or a defendant’s attorney to reduce the value of an injured party’s injury claim. If you were not wearing a seat belt in a car accident, the Seat Belt Defense may be raised to argue that you are at least partially responsible for your own injuries. This defense can be used for both passengers and drivers who’ve filed personal injury claims. Although a large majority of states don’t allow the Seat Belt Defense, more than 12 states still permit some forms of it.


The Seat Belt Defense can be used in two legal ways: comparative negligence and mitigation of damages. 

Under the comparative negligence doctrine, the money that a victim receives for an accident should be reduced if they were also negligent in some way.

Failing to wear a seat belt may also be considered a failure to mitigate damages. This would then serve as justification for a reduction in the compensation the victim receives, as a result.

Missouri Law

Missouri is one of the few states that allows the fact that an injury victim was not wearing a seat belt into evidence. That said, the state still has a safeguard in place to prevent this from disproportionately impacting the value of a victim’s injury claim. Under Missouri law, only one percent (1%) of fault can be attributed to a victim for not wearing a seat belt during an accident.


Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers at McShane & Brady Today

 In order to schedule a free consultation with our car accident lawyers in Kansas City, MO, be sure to contact McShane & Brady or complete the form on our website today. Our team will be able to get back to you within one business day.

McShane & Brady is a Kansas City law firm that represents those who have been injured due to the negligence of others. We have successfully represented many car accident victims over the years, winning millions in settlements. If you or a loved one have been injured and are seeking compassionate, experienced attorneys with a proven track record of success, call us at 816-888-8010.