How not wearing a seat belt could hurt your car accident claim
If another driver hits you, they clearly are at fault for your injuries. But there are a number of defenses that the other party or their insurance company will try to use to minimize how much they have to pay you for the accident.
One such defense is known as the “seat belt defense” – and claims that if you were not wearing your seat belt, you are partially responsible for the extent of your injuries. This effectively lowers the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive in your car accident claim.
The situation is much like when motorcyclists don’t wear their helmets, except with one big difference: the defense is not permitted in many states across the country.
The seat belt defense in Illinois and Missouri
While both Illinois and Missouri have comparative negligence laws when determining compensation in personal injury claims, Illinois does not permit the seat belt defense when determining that negligence. While everybody is required by law to wear their seat belts, failure to do so will not necessarily impact your claim.
Missouri on the other hand is one of the 15 states that permit the seat belt defense. That means that if your accident occurs in Missouri or if it includes Missouri drivers, you may be held partially responsible for your injuries if you were not wearing your seat belt.
One thing to note, however, is that the reduction in damages is still limited in the state’s jurisdiction.
While Illinois drivers may not have to worry about the seat belt defense, all drivers are still required by law to wear their seat belts – and everyone should do so to protect their own safety on the roads.