You should always buckle up. Not only is it the law in Washington, but seat belts save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 15,000 lives are saved—and tens of thousands of catastrophic injuries are avoided—because of seat belts annually. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. Seat belt compliance is not perfect.
This raises an important question: Can you recover personal injury compensation if you were not wearing a seat belt? In Washington, the answer is a clear and resounding ‘yes’. Here, our Spokane car accident lawyers explain the most important things you need to know about bringing a personal injury claim if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Washington Law: Seat Belts are Required, but Failure to Wear One is Not Negligence
Under Washington law, all drivers and passengers are required to buckle up. There are no exceptions: You should wear a safety belt whenever the vehicle is moving. If you fail to do so, you can be cited for a traffic violation and fined. As of 2020, the standard seat belt ticket is $124. Though, there can be some variation in that amount.
While you should always wear a seat belt, Washington law does not consider lack of seat belt use to constitute negligence. Under RCW § 46.61.688(6), a person’s failure to buckle up cannot be used as a defense in a negligence action. In other words, you still have the right to hold a negligent driver or other defendant legally liable for your crash, even if you were not wearing a seat belt.
The Insurance Company May Try to Use Lack of Seat Belt Use Against You
While Washington’s state law is clear, the insurance companies will use almost every trick in the books to deny or limit compensation. In other words, the insurance company may try to use the fact that a person was not wearing a seat belt against them. Please remember that failure to wear a seat belt is not a valid defense in a negligence claim in Washington. The insurance company should not deny your claim based on (alleged) lack of seat belt usage. If you were severely hurt in a crash and you were not wearing a safety belt, our Spokane car accident attorneys can help. We are prepared to take action to hold the negligent defendant(s) and insurance companies accountable.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Spokane Auto Accident Attorney
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Washington car accident lawyers fight aggressively to help clients recover full and fair financial compensation. If you were hurt in a collision without wearing a seat belt, we are here to help. Contact us now to schedule a no fee, no obligation review of your car accident claim. We represent injured victims throughout Eastern Washington, including in Spokane County, Pend Oreille County, Stevens County, Ferry County, and Whitman County.