What if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seat Belt?

So, you were part of a car accident and you weren’t wearing your safety belt. Does this mean you can’t bring a personal injury claim in North Carolina? No.

Any Durham Personal Injury Lawyer will tell you that when it comes to auto accidents, or any tort case within the State of North Carolina, contributory negligence is certainly a point that must be addressed. According to People’s Law Dictionary, contributory negligence is “a doctrine of common law that in the event that an individual is injured in part due to his/her own carelessness, the plaintiff will not be made eligible to collect any compensations from another party.”.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that not wearing a seat belt is irresponsible, North Carolina General Statutes actually require the use of safety seats when operating a vehicle. However, it is expressly in the law that a violation of the statute, even though an unlawful act, is “not contributory negligence and also can not be entered as evidence in the hearing concerning virtually any civil action.”

Even though it might be a crime, a “party, witness, or counsel can not make reference to a safety strap in the course of a hearing of a civil action that entails property damage, personal injury, or death supposing that the damage, injury, or death is not related to the layout, manufacture, furnishing, supplying, or maintenance concerning a safety strap.” Thus, the failure of a not at-fault driver to utilize a safety strap or a child-seat is not permissible evidence at trial, even though it is a misdemeanor offense.

Furthermore, with respect to the admissibility of the use of safety belts in North Carolina, this sword cuts both ways. Often plaintiffs would like to present proof that they were donning a safety strap to underscore that the injury sufferer did everything that they could to prevent significant harm. However, this testimony is also not admissible.

In North Carolina, there is case law that prohibits attorneys in personal injury cases against telling the jury that any of the occupants were not using a safety strap.

Establishing the probability of a successful personal injury claim and how to best proceed is crucial when it comes to your particular case. Many of the legal issues in your prospective case– duty, breach, causation and damages– will depend on the specific facts. Without the proper representation, you may be denied from recovering damages for your injuries.  The attorneys here at Wallace Pierce are ready to discuss the possibilities for recovery and examine the best way to proceed in your prospective claim.


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