IF YOU ARE IN A CRASH AND NOT WEARING YOUR SEATBELT, CAN THAT BE USED AGAINST YOU IN YOUR INJURY CASE?

Seat belt usage is mandatory in Tennessee.  Tennessee made seat belt usage mandatory in 1986.  The fine for a first-time offense for not wearing your seat belt is $25; $50 for second and any additional violations.

Man not wearing seat belt in car

However, if you were injured as a result of another driver’s carelessness in that crash while not wearing your seat belt, the fact of not wearing your seat belt cannot be used against you.   Tennessee law requires that you wear the safety device, but does not allow it to be used against you in any case where you were injured.  (Tenn.Code Ann. 55-9-604)  The law states that the failure to wear a safety belt or receipt of a citation for same shall not be admissible as evidence in a civil action.  There are certain exceptions listed in the statute where it may be used against you if you have filed a products liability claim (only). 

This may not seem to make sense to some.  However, the reason for the exclusion of this evidence is sound.  The main reasons to exclude this information are:

1- The defendant should not be able to diminish the consequences of his negligence by the plaintiff’s failure to anticipate the defendant’s part in causing the wreck; and

2- allowing the seat belt defense would lead to a veritable “battle of experts” as to what injuries would have or have not been avoided had the plaintiff been wearing a seat belt.

It is advisable to always wear the proper safety devices for you and your children.  However, do not let the insurance company use the failure of one of your family members against you to reduce the value of your claim, when their insured is the one who set the whole scene in motion by being careless.

If you have any questions about your case, call on the award-winning lawyers at GriffithLaw to review your case in detail, and give you the right course of action you need to take in order to protect yourself.

Protecting your Family.  It’s what we do.  Every day.

John Griffith
Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney
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