Can I File a Lawsuit if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt in a Crash?

February 11, 2019 in Uncategorized | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Personal Injury Lawyer

The short answer is yes. Read on to learn how you can file a personal injury lawsuit, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt, and how that might affect your chances of compensation.


The practice of personal injury often falls under the tort law area of negligence. Negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.

For example, Car A runs a red light and hits Car B. As a result, Car B is totaled, and the driver suffers broken arm among other injuries. To recover for damages, Car B will need to show that Car A was negligent. Negligence has four elements that must be met for it to be an effective legal strategy:

  1. Duty: The driver of Car A owed Car B a duty to drive responsibly.
  2. Breach of Duty: The driver of Car A breached that duty when they ran the red light.
  3. Causation: Car A’s breach of duty caused the auto accident.
  4. Damages: the driver of Car B suffered property damage and personal injury as a result.

But what if the driver of Car B wasn’t wearing a seat belt? Did they somehow contribute to their injuries?

How It Affects A Lawsuit

Car B can still file a negligence lawsuit against Car A, though Car A’s attorneys may argue that the Car B was “Contributorily” or “Comparatively” Negligent. Ultimately, how much you’ll be able to recover will depend on the negligence laws in your state. Many states allow for contributory and comparative negligence defenses.

Contributory Negligence Defense : This defense allows for a plaintiff to be barred from recovery if the plaintiff is found to have at all acted negligently and contributed to the accident or their own injuries, even if they are just 1% at fault.

Comparative Negligence Defense: This defense allows a plaintiff to recover their damages but reduces them by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. There are three types of comparative negligence.

  1. Pure Comparative: The plaintiff will receive their total damages, minus their percentage of fault. For example, if Car B is found to be 25% at fault and the damages total $100,000, Car B will only receive $75,000.
  2. 50% Modified Comparative: The plaintiff will not recover if they are found to be as equally responsible for the accident as the defendant.
  3. 51% Modified Comparative: The plaintiff will not recover if they are found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident.

If you’ve were injured in an auto accident, regardless of whether you were wearing your seat belt, contact a car accident lawyer offers for a free initial consultation.


Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.


Disclaimer: Using this contact form or any page of MartinWren, P.C.’s website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not submit any confidential, privileged, or other protected information until and unless you have completed a private consultation with a MartinWren, P.C. attorney, the attorney has informed you that no conflict of interest exists, and the attorney notifies you that the firm can take your case. By completing this form you agree that we can follow up with you by phone, email, or by text messaging.

    *Please enter your initials to acknowledge that you have read and understood the Disclaimer above:

    *By providing your phone number, you agree to receive text messages from Martin Wren, P.C.. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies.

    To schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

    latest firm news