Can you claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt?
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In a nutshell, yes you can claim compensation for an injury if the car accident was not your fault. However, seatbelts are compulsory under UK law and it will be taken into account that you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. Because of this, the amount of compensation you are awarded is likely to be affected.
If you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of an accident, it is highly likely that you will sustain injuries. It is also common for these injuries to be significantly more severe than those you would have sustained if you were wearing a seatbelt. Sometimes, the injuries sustained could have been avoided altogether by simply wearing a seatbelt.
Because of this, not wearing a seatbelt is known as contributory negligence, which can result in a percentage being deducted from the compensation amount rewarded.
If you find yourself in a situation where an injured party was not wearing their seatbelt, it is always the responsibility of the defending party to prove that they negligently contributed to their injuries.
If it is found that you would have sustained no injures at all in the road traffic accident if you were wearing a seatbelt, 25% of your compensation will be deducted.
If your injuries would have been less severe if you were wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, 15% will be deducted.
However, there will be cases where it is found that injuries sustained would be no different whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not. In these cases, there would be no deduction from your compensation award.
The UK law states that the driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that all passengers under the age of 14 are wearing a seatbelt. For passengers who are over the age of 14, it is their own responsibility, not that of the driver. If a child under the age of 14 sustains injuries in an accident where the driver did not ensure that they were wearing a seatbelt, the child or a parent/guardian is entitled to make a claim against the driver.
If a passenger is not wearing a seatbelt, they will not be able to claim compensation against the driver for failing to do so.
Why wearing a seatbelt is important
A seatbelt’s purpose is to protect drivers and passengers from injury during any type of collision. In serious car accidents, wearing a seatbelt could save your life.
It is estimated that in car accidents which happen at a speed of 30 mph, you will be thrown forward with a force of 30-60 times your own body weight if you are not wearing a seatbelt. This could have serious and devastating consequences.
By wearing a seatbelt, a person is kept close to the seat, preventing them from being thrust forward and possibly being ejected from the vehicle. Because of the security of the seatbelt, it also prevents the body from being shaken due to a sudden stop.
Although seatbelts do not stop a person moving altogether, they do ensure that the body will not come into contact with the dashboard, windows and other parts of the car. Because of this, injuries sustained are much less severe.