·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Seatbelt Liability After a Massachusetts Accident

— June 7, 2022

In order to understand how seat belt use affects your ability to recover a settlement, you must first understand how comparative negligence works in Massachusetts.

We all know that seatbelts are important for auto safety. Most people choose to wear their seatbelts without thinking twice about it, and this is obviously the right decision. After all, auto deaths dropped dramatically when seatbelts were first introduced, and these safety devices are probably more effective than any other safety feature that you might find in a modern car. Seat belts may have been around for decades, but they’re still just as effective as ever. But what happens if you fail to wear your seatbelt before becoming injured in a Massachusetts accident? This question raises the issue of “seat belt liability,” which is slightly complex. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, it makes sense to get in touch with a qualified, experienced attorney as soon as possible. Whether you were wearing your seat belt or not, you still deserve the right to explore your legal options and determine the best course of action. Under certain circumstances, you may still be able to recover a considerable settlement for your injuries. However, it’s more important than ever to work with a skilled attorney in this situation. 

Comparative Negligence Explained

In order to understand how seat belt use affects your ability to recover a settlement, you must first understand how comparative negligence works in Massachusetts. Under this system, you can still recover a settlement even if you were partly to blame for your own injuries. However, Massachusetts follows a system of “modified” comparative negligence, under which you are barred from compensation if you were more than 50% responsible for your own injuries. 

The Seat Belt Defense

A police officer with a flashlight peers into the driver's side window of a car at night.
A seatbelt enforcement stop near F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. U.S. Air Force photo by R.J. Oriez, courtesy of

So why is comparative negligence important in this situation? When you sue negligent parties for causing your accident, you may encounter something called the “seat belt defense.” This is when the defendant claims that your failure to wear a seat belt contributed to your injuries. In many states, this type of defense is not allowed. However, defendants can use this strategy in Massachusetts, and this can affect your ability to recover a settlement. 

That being said, they would need to prove that your failure to wear a seatbelt was the main reason behind your injuries in order to completely prevent you from recovering any compensation whatsoever. In addition, it’s important to remember that failure to use a child passenger restraint cannot be used as evidence in any civil action, according to Massachusetts law. So if your child was injured, the seat belt defense cannot be used. 

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you’ve been searching the Boston area for a qualified, experienced accident attorney, there are many legal professionals waiting to assist you. Get help from one of these lawyers, and you can approach your accident lawsuit in an effective, confident manner. While the so-called seat belt defense can be problematic, a skilled attorney can still help you get the settlement you need and deserve. Reach out and book your consultation today.

Join the conversation!