What if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt during my car accident? | Allen and Allen

What if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt during my car accident?

Click It or Ticket” is a phrase that most Virginia drivers are familiar with. The state’s longstanding marketing campaign reminds everyone to wear their seatbelt or face the costly penalty of being cited by law enforcement.

pregnant woman wearing a seat belt

Despite the persistent warnings, some folks still fail to use their seat belts at all times. This mistake can have serious and potentially fatal consequences if a car accident occurs.

What happens when an unrestrained person is involved in a collision that wasn’t their fault? Will their failure to buckle up have a negative effect on a personal injury claim? Insurance companies may attempt to use the omission against the injured party by claiming that it constitutes “contributory negligence.”

What is contributory negligence?

Contributory negligence is the legal doctrine in Virginia which provides that a plaintiff’s negligence, no matter how slight, that contributes in some way to their injuries bars the plaintiff from recovery for those injuries. If the plaintiff is found guilty of any contributory negligence at all, it doesn’t matter how negligent the defendant was.

Insurance companies may argue that the injury would not have happened – or would have been less severe – if the plaintiff simply followed the law and wore their seatbelt.

negligent driver

What states still practice contributory negligence?

  • Alabama
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

What is comparative negligence?

Contributory negligence is no longer widely used in the United States. Most states have done away with this challenging facet of law, and some have adopted “comparative negligence.” This tenet of law doesn’t prohibit a plaintiff’s recovery, but instead potentially lessens the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover based on the degree of their negligence.

woman putting on seat belt


Will not wearing a seatbelt make me contributorily negligent in Virginia?

Under Va. Code §46.2-1094(D), not wearing a seatbelt will not amount to negligence. The law also says that the failure to buckle up cannot be used to reduce or diminish the plaintiff’s compensation to address their injuries. In fact, the law specifically declares that evidence of one’s failure to wear a seatbelt is not admissible at trial.

The attorneys at Allen & Allen are here to use their knowledge of the law and experience to protect all who are injured due to the negligence of others. If you have been injured due to someone else’s recklessness, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us today at 866-772-1384.