There is no question that seatbelt usage helps prevent against serious injury or death in an automobile collision. Accordingly, Delaware law requires vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt. Nonetheless, there are times when vehicle occupants are injured in collisions at times when they are unrestrained. It may be that the collision occurred when the occupant momentarily unbuckled their seatbelt while stopped to reach for something in the vehicle or to tend to a child in the backseat. There are also times when the car accident police report may be incorrect and may state in error that the occupant was not wearing a seatbelt. So in these situations, does the at-fault driver have a “seatbelt defense” to limit the amount of compensation to the injured occupant?
In Delaware, as in a majority of states, there is no seatbelt defense. A statute enacted by Delaware’s General Assembly prohibits the admission of evidence of the failure to wear a seatbelt in a civil trial or insurance claim adjudication. Pennsylvania has enacted a similar statute. This means that the at-fault party cannot use the lack of seatbelt to avoid paying full compensation for the injuries caused by the collision.
While most states have enacted statutes to bar the seatbelt defense, the availability of a seatbelt defense will depend upon the state law governing the case. If you have been injured in an automobile accident due to another driver’s negligence, contact me to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim and compensation for your injuries and damages.