Everyone knows that you should wear a seat belt. But can a victim be held liable for failing to wear a seat belt? In a recent case, a state supreme court allowed a defendant to argue that a plaintiff was partially at fault for her own injuries for failing to use a seat belt.
In that case, the woman was in a car accident when she was sitting in the backseat of someone’s car. The driver of the car ran into a parked excavator, and the woman sued the driver and his employer. The defendants argued that the woman was at fault, since she was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. At the time the case was argued, Arkansas law generally did not allow evidence of a failure to wear a seat belt to be used in civil cases. However, the court found that this law actually regulated a court procedure, which could only be regulated by the courts. Therefore, the law was unconstitutional and could not be enforced, and the seat belt defense could be raised.
Seat Belt Defenses in Illinois
In Illinois, a defendant normally cannot raise the issue of a party’s failure to wear a seat belt as a defense. In 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court held that evidence of damages caused by a party’s failure to use a seat belt was not admissible with respect to either the question of liability or the question of damages. At that time, there was no law requiring people to wear seat belts, so the plaintiff did not have a duty to wear one.