Experts agree that seat belts help save lives. And it is common knowledge that drivers and passengers should always wear their seat belts regardless of the length of the trip. However, what is less known is that the seat belt defense may allow a defendant in a Texas car accident case to use an accident victim’s failure to wear a seat belt against them.
The seat belt defense is really an interpretation of the rules of evidence, specifically, whether evidence of the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt is admissible. For the most part, only relevant evidence is admissible. Most states do not allow defendants to use the seat belt defense, because they consider such evidence irrelevant. Specifically, these jurisdictions determined that whether a person is wearing a seat belt has nothing to do with whether the defendant negligently caused the accident.
Of course, defendants naturally want to introduce seat belt non-use evidence to argue that the plaintiff is responsible for their injuries, and that they should not be on the hook for damages that the plaintiff could have prevented. And, in a 2015 case, for the first time, the Texas Supreme Court held that seat belt non-use evidence was admissible, reversing a long line of decisions.