April 21, 2020
Virginia has enacted laws requiring drivers, front-seat passengers, and all passengers up to 18 years of age to wear seatbelts. Va. Code § 46.2-1094. If you are injured in an accident but you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the collision, insurance companies and their defense lawyers will attempt to argue that you would not have been injured — either not at all or significantly less so — if you were properly buckled in. In making this argument, the defense seeks to prove that you were "contributorily negligent" in causing the injuries that were suffered during an accident. Under Virginia law, however, violation of the statute by not wearing your seatbelt will not be evidence of negligence, nor be considered in the mitigation of damages, or be admissible as evidence for recovery of damages. Va. Code § 46.2-1094(D).
Many cases arise where serious damages are suffered by an accident victim who is not wearing a seatbelt. In some of these cases, a person is ejected altogether from the vehicle. At Schilling & Esposito, we seek every means available when appropriate to attempt to prove that your injuries were caused by the negligent driver, not from your own failure to wear a seatbelt. Working together with expert biomechanical engineers and accident reconstructionists, we are often able to demonstrate that serious injuries — and often worse injuries — would have occurred even if a seatbelt was worn at the time of an accident. Knowing who to contact and how to go about proving the cause of injury in these difficult cases enables us to make a difference for our clients in need of substantial compensation for serious injuries. Of course, you should always use your seat belt for safety reasons as well as legal ones.