People don’t realize that seatbelts date way back to the 50s. It wasn’t until ’68 that it was legally required for seatbelts to be a part of new cars. Even then, it took a few more decades for them to really catch on and for laws to require you to wear a seatbelt while driving. Today, people decide to ditch the seatbelt so they can be more comfortable when they drive. Of course, these same people will feel very uncomfortable when it comes time to file a personal injury claim.
When someone gets hurt in a wreck, they can then file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver. That is, unless the victim wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Failure to wear a seatbelt dramatically affects whether or not a victim will get paid from filing a claim. A victim in this situation will actually share the fault of the accident according to the court. Using a “contributory negligence” counter-claim, the court will rule that the victim can’t get any money from another party since they are partially responsible. There are other negligence counter-claims that can be defended if this option doesn’t work. The moral of the story is that people who fail to buckle up before an accident will either have a drastically reduced payout, or they won’t get paid at all.
On top of that, the court also goes through a process where the plaintiff has to explain how they mitigated their damages. In a case where the plaintiff was in an accident, the court will ask them what steps they took to avoid the accident. Swerving, applying the brakes, and honking are examples of how someone could mitigate their damage. Most states determine that the failure to wear a seatbelt goes against this idea, and it fails to mitigate the damage of an accident. This is just another way that the failure to wear a seatbelt hurts someone in court.
Now, the previous examples are only the case if the damages were due to not wearing a seatbelt. If the plaintiff was injured in a car accident and it had nothing to do with whether or not they were wearing a seatbelt, these ideas don’t come into play.