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Wear Your Seat Belt

Hudson Law Firm Jan. 31, 2023

seat beltWearing a seat belt is the law in many countries and states due to the fact that it can significantly reduce the severity of injuries sustained in a car accident. Failure to wear a seat belt can be considered contributory negligence in the event of a car accident, as it can be argued that the person in question failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or reduce the risk of harm to themselves.

Besides not wearing a seat belt increasing your risk of serious injury or death in a motor vehicle accident, depending on the severity of the accident, not wearing a seat belt can also be considered negligent behavior and may result in additional charges being brought against you.

Seat Belt Law

The seat belt law in New Jersey applies to all passengers, including the rear seat, who are at least 8 years of age or at least 57 inches tall, and each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile. However, the New Jersey Legislature has amended the provisions of the seat belt law to require that all occupants of a passenger automobile, including adults who are seated in the rear, must use a seat belt. Seat-belt laws in New Jersey dictate that all passengers over the age of eight must wear seat-belts. New Jersey child safety laws apply to children.

In New Jersey, children under age 2 and under 30 lbs. must be in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness. Children age 2 to 4 must remain in a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness in the back seat of a vehicle, and children age 4 to 8 can use the regular adult seat belt once they reach that age or height. Children age 8 and older can sit in a regular seat using a seat belt. The law no longer specifies when children over age 8 can move from the back seat to the front seat, however, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children not sit in the front seat until age 13.

Seat Belt Lawsuits

Under the legal doctrine of contributory negligence, an individual who is injured in an accident may be barred from recovering damages if it is determined that the individual contributed to the accident and the resulting injuries, even if the actions of the other party were more blameworthy.

For example, if a person is injured in a car accident and it is determined that they were not wearing a seat belt, the court may find that the person is partly responsible for the injuries sustained in the accident because they failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of harm by wearing a seat belt. This is contributory negligence and can bar the individual from recovering damages from the other party.

According to New Jersey case law, an auto accident plaintiff who did not wear their seat belt may still be able to make a successful claim for damages. This is due to the legal concept of comparative negligence. Under this principle, a plaintiff who was partially responsible for their injuries can still receive compensation if their negligence was less than the defendant’s.

Whether or not a plaintiff was wearing a seat belt may still be considered in the court’s decision, as the jury may reduce the amount of damages awarded if they believe the plaintiff would have been less injured had they worn a seat belt. However, a plaintiff cannot be held responsible for more than their comparative share of the fault, and so may still be able to recover damages if the court finds that their negligence does not exceed the defendant’s.