Though most of the country is staying home due to COVID-related closures, the month of July began with two deadly motor vehicle accidents in Lexington, Kentucky. In the second crash within a few hours on the morning of July 4, a woman died from injuries sustained after the SUV in which she was riding rolled over. She was not wearing a seatbelt. Though it is not clear whether another motorist was at fault or contributed to the accident, it is important to note that whether you are wearing a seatbelt during an motor vehicle accident – in addition to keeping you safe – can impact your recovery in a personal injury case.
Kentucky’s Seatbelt Law
Kentucky state law requires the driver and all passengers to wear a properly fastened seatbelt while the vehicle is moving. Children who are 40 inches tall or shorter must be restrained in a child restraint system meeting federal standards. Children who are under the age of eight and who are between 57 and 40 inches tall must be secured properly in a child booster seat. Did you know you could be pulled over for not wearing your seatbelt? Prior to 2007, the only way you could be cited for not wearing your seatbelt in Kentucky is if you were pulled over for another reason. Now, you can be stopped and issued a citation if an officer notices you are not wearing your seatbelt.
Exemptions to the Seatbelt Law
- If you have a medical condition preventing you from wearing a seatbelt, you must have a note from a licensed physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or chiropractor confirming you should not wear a seatbelt due to your condition.
- Vehicles carrying more than 15 passengers are exempt from the seatbelt law. However, vehicles carrying more than fifteen passengers may be subject to other restraint laws.
- Vehicles registered for agricultural use only and weighing one ton or more are exempt from the seatbelt law.
- Motorcycles and similar vehicles are exempt.
- Mail delivery personnel are exempt.
What happens in my personal injury case if I did not wear my seatbelt?
If you are the victim of a motor vehicle accident, whether you were wearing your seatbelt matters only in the question of damages. You cannot be deemed to have contributed to the cause of an accident because you were not wearing your seatbelt. In fact, Kentucky’s seatbelt law explicitly states that failing to use a seatbelt cannot be considered negligence per se or contributory negligence, and cannot even be admitted in evidence in a civil trial regarding the question of negligence.
However, whether you were wearing your seatbelt can be discussed at trial concerning the amount of compensation to which you may be entitled. Essentially, if an insurance company can prove that wearing your seatbelt would have prevented your injuries, you could be barred from collecting compensation for your injuries. In other words, a jury is allowed to reduce damages if a plaintiff was not wearing his or her seatbelt. Whether it is a question of damages in a personal injury case, or a question of whether you will be fined by a police officer, wearing a seatbelt is always the best course of action unless a medical professional says otherwise.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, Kentucky
If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Lexington, Kentucky. Call (859) 231-0202 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. At Roberts Law Office, we are prepared to fight for compensation for injuries caused by negligent motorists.