Under Missouri law, passengers in a vehicle who are between the ages of 8 and 15 are required to wear seatbelts, regardless as to whether they are sitting in the front or back seat. On the other hand, individuals who are over the age of 15 only are required to wear a seat belt when they are seated in the front seat of a vehicle. Seat belt laws may become an issue in your personal injury case if you were injured during an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, but you weren’t wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident.
Commonly known as the “seatbelt defense,” this defense in personal injury actions is based on the theory that the injury victim wouldn’t have suffered such severe injuries, or perhaps any injuries at all, if she had been wearing her seatbelt. While Missouri is one of several states that permit a defendant to raise this defense in a personal injury claim and reduce damages as a result, Missouri law only permits a reduction of the injury victim’s damages by one percent if the defense applies. What this means is that in determining any damages award in favor of an injury victim, a jury only can attribute 1% of fault to the injury victim for failing to wear a seatbelt.
The fact is that it is difficult to tell if injuries still would have occurred, or would have been as severe, if the injury victim was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Nonetheless, although it may not seem fair to injury victims, the seatbelt defense can apply in Missouri personal injury claims. The theory behind Missouri’s application of the seatbelt defense in personal injury claims is that since wearing a seatbelt is required under Missouri law, then drivers or passengers should bear some responsibility if they suffer injuries in a motor vehicle accident while not wearing a seatbelt. At Benjamin Law Firm, LLC, we pride ourselves on helping our clients with personal injury claims resulting from all types of accidents, as well as with their legal difficulties related to traffic violations, DWI, general criminal offenses, and expungement of criminal records. Call our office today at (816) 322-8008 and learn what we can do to help.