Failure to Wear Seat Belt Inadmissible in Most Cases
Tennessee has a mandatory seat belt law. With few exceptions, drivers and passengers should be wearing a seat belt if they are traveling on Tennessee roadways. Sometimes though, people are not wearing their seat belt and they are involved in a crash. Maybe they were in a hurry and they forgot. Perhaps, the had a sunburn or a recent surgery and the seat belt was painful or irritating. Other people are worried about being trapped in the vehicle and so they make a conscious decision not to wear a seat belt. For whatever reason, it is not uncommon for people in Tennessee to be in a car accident and not be wearing a seat belt. If they are injured, one of their biggest concerns is if they can still pursue an injury claim since they were not wearing their seat belt. Unless you are making a very specific type of claim against the car manufacturer, you can still pursue an injury claim even if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident.
Stated differently, if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your car accident, that fact will probably not hurt your case. By statute, in Tennessee, the failure to wear a seat belt is not admissible into evidence in a lawsuit. The same is true even if you were given a citation. The one main exception to this general rule is in product liability cases.
Product liability cases are when a person is injured or killed by a defective or unreasonably dangerous product. In a car or truck accident case, a product liability case might arise against your vehicle’s manufacturer if, for instance, the airbags failed to deploy in a significant crash. If you pursue a product liability case against the manufacturer of your car, the failure to wear a seat belt is admissible under certain circumstances. The rationale for this is that if you allege something was wrong with your vehicle then the manufacturer should have the opportunity to show that you were not using the product properly when you failed to wear your seat belt. In any case other than a product liability case, the failure to wear a seat belt is not admissible unless you fail to tell the truth about it. In that scenario, the judge might allow it to come into evidence because it is relevant to your honesty.
In short, do not let the fact that you were not wearing your seat belt during an accident prevent you from pursuing your legal rights. Instead, call our office for a free, no-obligation consultation in which we will discuss your case with you and let you know your legal options. If we think we can help, our award-winning lawyers handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. And, unlike some injury attorneys, we advance all case expenses interest-free so that you do not have to pay anything out-of-pocket or incur costly litigation loans simply to pursue the compensation you deserve as a result of someone's negligence.
For more than 30 years, our firm has represented accident victims across the State of Tennessee and we would be privileged to help you and your family too. To get started, simply give us a call: