Georgia’s Seatbelt Laws
The requirement to wear a seatbelt in Georgia.
In Georgia every front seat occupant of a “passenger vehicle” as defined in O.C.G.A. §40-8-76.1 is required by law to wear a seat belt, unless the person is excused for one of the nine reasons listed in the statute.
Sometimes a person is involved in a car crash and does not have his seatbelt on. Does that mean a person cannot recover for injuries in a crash if the person is not wearing a seatbelt? No.
Georgia law does not allow the non-use of a seatbelt to be used against a person who is injured in a crash
The Georgia statute on seatbelt usage states:
The failure of an occupant of a motor vehicle to wear a seat safety belt in any seat of a motor vehicle which has a seat safety belt or belts shall not be considered evidence of negligence or causation, shall not otherwise be considered by the finder of fact on any question of liability of any person, corporation, or insurer, shall not be any basis for cancellation of coverage or increase in insurance rates, and shall not be evidence used to diminish any recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, occupancy, or operation of a motor vehicle. (Emphasis added.)
Why the legislature would make a requirement to wear a seatbelt but not allow that to be used against you if you were not wearing it and were injured in a crash
- While based on injury statistics seatbelts are thought to reduce crash-related injuries and deaths, it is virtually impossible to tell whether in any given crash the difference, if any, a seatbelt made.
- Sometimes seatbelts themselves cause injury. If a person that causes a crash was allowed to talk about the injury the seatbelt might have avoided, then injured person in fairness would have to be allowed to talk about the injury the seatbelt might have caused.
- The law requires that something be a proximate cause of injury before it can be considered. If that wasn’t the case every person who caused a crash could avoid responsibility by pointing to any number of things that “might” have led to the crash or injury. For example, people might argue things like:
- “If she had been driving 35 instead of 45 we wouldn’t have arrived at the intersection at the same time, and the crash wouldn’t have happened.”
- “If he had not worked so hard all those years prior to the crash his back would have been in better shape and wouldn’t have been injured.”
When all we can really say is if the crash hadn’t happened, not wearing the seatbelt wouldn’t have mattered.
If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt and were involved in a crash and injured, don’t assume you cannot recover. It’s always worth making the free call to talk to me.
Ann-Margaret Perkins is a partner with Perkins Law Firm, L.L.P. practicing personal injury and social security disability, but her claim to fame is being mom to former Southeastern Guide Dogs breeder, Baxter.