Could I Still Claim For A Road Accident/Car Accident Without A Seat Belt?

    By Mark Anderson. Last Updated 11th March 2021. Welcome to our guide, which is all about making a claim for a car accident without a seat belt.

    If you have been injured in a road traffic accident caused by someone else, you may already be aware that you could claim compensation for your injuries. But what if you were in a road accident and didn’t have a seat belt on? Would you still be able to claim compensation? 

    In this guide, we explore the legalities of making a claim for a road accident when no seat belt was worn. Provided in the sections below is information about the consequences of not wearing a seat belt and being involved in a car accident, injuries that could be suffered due to not wearing a seat belt, and whether you could be eligible to claim compensation for your injuries. 

    If you would like to speak to an advisor for a free assessment of your eligibility to claim for a car accident without a seat belt, or you would like some support with finding a lawyer to help you, you can call the team any time on 0161 696 9685. But first, why not read on to see if your question may have already been answered.

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    A Guide To Claims For A Road Accident Without A Seat Belt

    Unfortunately, although figures are lower than in previous years, in 2019/20, 1,580 people were killed on UK roads. The total number of people injured during that period, including all severities of injury, was 131,220. And note that Coronavirus-related restrictions influenced these numbers, meaning they might have been higher otherwise.

    Claim for a car accident without a seat belt

    Road accident without a seat-belt

    If a person is injured in a road accident that was not their fault, they could claim compensation for not just their injuries but the financial implications of their injuries, such as loss of income, medical expenses and more.

    But what happens if someone is injured in a road accident and was not wearing a seat belt? Could they still claim compensation for a no seat belt road accident? And if so, would there be any changes to the amount of compensation they could receive?

    In the sections of this guide, we explore the consequences of not wearing a seat belt, including the types of injury that could be caused, the amounts of compensation that could be appropriate and the eligibility criteria for making a claim for a car accident without a seat belt.

    What Is A Road Accident Without A Seat Belt?

    You may have heard about car crashes involving no seat belts in the news where serious injuries have been suffered by those not wearing their seat belt, injuries that could have been prevented.

    Seat belts were invented to reduce the risks of serious injuries in road traffic accidents, and there are laws in place to make sure that drivers and passengers wear seat belts when they are travelling.

    A road accident without a seat belt could cause a person to suffer more serious injuries than they would have done if they had been wearing a seat belt. However, if the accident was someone else’s fault, you could still be eligible to make a without a seat belt claim for compensation for your injuries, but you might lose out on some of the compensation you might have received if you had been wearing your seat belt.

    Does insurance pay for not wearing a seat belt?

    If you’re wondering whether an at-fault driver’s insurance would payout for a car accident with no seat belt, insurance companies may well try to reduce the compensation payable to you if you were not wearing a seat belt by claiming contributory negligence. We explain more about what this could mean for your claim for a car accident without a seat belt in a later section.

    Seat Belt Laws In The UK

    If you are in the UK, you have a legal duty to wear a seat belt where it is fitted. There are only a few exceptions to this rule:

    • If you are reversing (as a driver)
    • If you are delivering goods (as a driver) and are not moving more than 50 metres
    • If you have a medical exemption (you must have a certificate that attests to this)
    • If you are driving a taxi and you are picking up passengers
    • If you are in a fire, police or rescue vehicle

    There are, despite some misconceptions, no blanket authorities for pregnant women to avoid wearing seat belts. If you were pregnant and could not use a seat belt, a medical exemption certificate could be granted, but this would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

    You should also ensure that children are fastened in with appropriate restraints.

    What are the consequences of not wearing a seat belt if you are in an accident?

    You could still make a claim for compensation if the accident was not your fault, either as a driver or a passenger. The amount of compensation you could receive, however, might be reduced if you were not wearing your seat belt.

    In terms of the law, neglecting to wear a seat belt when you should may result in a fine of £500.

    Drivers Duty Of Care To Ensure Passengers Are Wearing Seat Belts

    A driver has a legal duty to ensure that their passengers under the age of 14 wear a seat belt. If a child is not wearing a seat belt and is involved in a road accident, they could be more badly injured than they might have been without one, as there may be nothing to stop them from being thrown about.

    If injuries are suffered in a road accident by a child under 14 due to the driver’s failure to make sure they were wearing a seat belt, a guardian or parent could be eligible to make a claim on behalf of the child against the driver of the vehicle.

    If someone over 14 is in a road accident without a seat belt, it’s not considered the driver’s fault that they were not wearing a seat belt. Yet, there could still be grounds to make a claim for a car accident without a seat belt.

    Why You Should Wear Your Seat Belt

    Seat belts, child car seats and lap belts are all designed to protect us. If you were in a car that was travelling at 30 miles per hour, and you were in a road accident without wearing a seat belt, you could be thrown about with a force that could be up to 60 times your body weight.

    According to the World Health Organisation’s seat belt publication, studies conducted since the 1960s have conclusively proved that seat belts can save lives as long as they are fitted and worn correctly. A review of research that had been conducted over the years surmised that the probability of someone being killed could be reduced by 40-50% for those in the front of the car (drivers and passengers) and by around 25% for those who were seated in the back of the car. Any of these scenarios could result in a without a seat belt claim.

    What Does Contributory Negligence Mean For Your Claim?

    Contributory negligence is a legal term that means that someone has contributed to their own injury somehow. If you were injured while neglecting to wear a seat belt, then then the party you were claiming against may use this as a defence. Otherwise, though, you may have a viable claim for a car accident without a seat belt.

    There are two different factors of contributory negligence related to a road accident without a seat belt claim.

    1. The defendant’s negligence while driving could have caused the accident, which led to the claimant’s injuries. If there had been no accident, then the claimant would not have been injured.
    2. The claimant would not have been injured to the same extent as they would have been if they were wearing a seat belt.

    To explain this further, it may be prudent for us to look at a case that led to the law of contributory negligence being developed. In Froom vs Butcher [1976], the claimant was injured in a road traffic accident caused by the defendant. Still, the judge presiding over the case decided to reduce the compensation that the claimant would have received because the claimant wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

    In terms of how this could apply to your own case, it would largely depend on the type of injury suffered and the severity, and how much effect the wearing of a seat belt could have had on the injury.

    • If wearing a seat belt could not have prevented the injury, the compensation would not be reduced.
    • If wearing a seat belt could have significantly reduced the severity of the injury, the compensation would be reduced by the amount that the injury could have been reduced by. (eg. 10% less severe = 10% less compensation)
    • If wearing a seat belt would have prevented the injury entirely, the compensation could be reduced by 25%

    Injuries Which May Be Caused By Not Using A Seat Belt

    As we have previously mentioned, seat belts could save lives, and not wearing one could lead to fatal injuries. Even if you were not fatally injured, your injuries from high and low-speed accidents could be more severe if you were not wearing a seat belt.

    What injuries would be likely in a head-on collision while not wearing a seat belt?

    If you are in a head-on collision and are not wearing a seat belt, as we have already mentioned, you could be thrown with forces amounting to up to 60 times your body weight. This could cause injuries to the head, neck, chest, abdomen, spine and more. These types of serious impact injuries could also cause organ damage and internal bleeding and could lead to life-changing consequences.

    Can you get whiplash without wearing a seat belt?

    While you may be under the impression that an acceleration/deceleration injury such as whiplash would not be associated with a road accident without a seat belt, you could certainly suffer a whiplash injury without wearing one. Whiplash is a common injury resulting from car accidents, and while some people may think that it would only cause mild discomfort, it could be more serious in some cases.

    Compensation Calculator For Road Accidents Without A Seat Belt

    Whether you are claiming compensation for your own road accident without a seat belt, or you’re claiming on behalf of a child who wasn’t wearing a seat belt in someone else’s car, you might be wondering how much compensation could be appropriate for the injuries that have been sustained. 

    We have chosen not to provide a personal injury claims calculator on this page. Instead, we have put together a table of injuries that could be related to this type of accident instead. The figures you see in the table below have been taken from the Judicial College Guidelines, a legal publication that reviews compensation awards made by the courts for different injuries.

    Each of these could be part of your own claim for a car accident without a seat belt. These are only approximate amounts, however, as each case would be assessed on its own merits. Please remember that your compensation may be reduced if you were injured in a road traffic accident when not wearing a seat belt.

    Injury Type And SeverityNotesGuideline Bracket for Compensation
    Neck injury – severeThis could cause paraplegia (incomplete) or spastic quadriparesis that is permanent. Or, cases where the injured party must wear a collar for 24 hours per day and yet still has little to no neck movement as well as suffering untreatable headaches.Around £139,210
    Neck injury – ModerateWrenching injury or soft tissue injury that leads to cervical spondylosis. This would leave the injured party with recurring pain, as well as the potential for future surgery to be needed.£12,900 to £23,460
    Hip/Pelvis injury – SeverePelvic fractures involving complications such as the lower back joint being dislocated, bladder injuries etc.£73,580 to £122,860
    Pelvis/hip injury – ModerateWhere significant injury has occurred but there would be little permanent disability.£24,950 to £36,770
    Arm injury – SevereFalling just short of an amputation but leaving little use of the arm.£90,250 to £122,860
    Wrist injury - significantWhere there is permanent disability yet some movement remains.£22,990 to £36,770
    Fractures to the fibula/tibiaSimple fractures with few ongoing symptomsUp to £11,110
    Knee injury – moderateCartilage tears, dislocations and meniscus damage injuries where there is minor disability remaining.£13,920 to £24,580
    Foot injury – ModerateMetatarsal fractures (displaced) which result in continuing symptoms as well as deformities.£12,900 to £23,460

    The awards in this table are made for what’s known as general damages. They are designed to compensate you for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity experienced due to your injuries. 

    If you cannot find your injury in the table above, this does not mean you could not claim for it. If you call the Legal Helpline team on 0161 696 9685, our advisors would be happy to give you information relating to the injuries you’ve suffered.

    Special Damages Claimable If Injured In A Road Accident With No Seat Belt

    As well as the general damages you could receive for a without a seat belt claim, you could also receive special damages. These are damages designed to cover losses and costs incurred as a direct result of your injuries. Special damages could include, but are not limited to:

    • Care costs – Have you required care at home for washing, dressing or other daily tasks that you couldn’t do yourself because of your injuries? If so, care costs could be included as part of your claim.
    • Earning losses – If you have been unable to attend work following your road accident, you might not have been paid your usual wage. Loss of income could also form part of your claim. If the injuries are severe enough, you may also be able to claim for loss of future earnings, too, if, for instance, you would be unable to return to work. 
    • Medical expenses – If you have needed counselling, physiotherapy or other medical services that you have had to pay for because of your accident, these costs could also be covered.
    • Travel expenses – Even travel costs to get you to medical appointments and appointments with your lawyer (if you visit them face to face) could be included in your claim.

    If you have incurred any costs or losses because of your road accident, even if you were not wearing a seat belt, it could be a good idea to ensure you keep proof, such as bank statements, receipts and payslips. This may make it easier for you to claim special damages.

    How Legal Helpline Could Assist You

    Here at Legal Helpline, we have a team of advisors who could offer guidance and support to those who are looking to make a claim for a car accident without a seat belt. If you were in a road accident without a seat belt and would like a free no-obligation case assessment, you can call our team, and we’ll be happy to help you.

    We have successfully helped many claimants with many different types of compensation claims, and we have a firm commitment to providing advice and support you can trust. Our friendly, knowledgeable advisors could connect you with a personal injury claims solicitor specialising in these types of claims. Our panel of solicitors strives to obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible for their clients. They’ll guide you through the legal process expertly, debunking legal jargon along the way.

    And if at any time you have a query or would like an update on your case, then there’ll be on hand to help. Lastly, our panel of solicitors will allow you to enter into a No Win No Fee Agreement designed to offer claimants financial protection and the confidence to pursue justice. Let’s look at these agreements in more detail.

    No Win No Fee Claims For A Road Accident Without A Seat Belt

    A No Win No Fee Agreement, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement, is designed with claimants in mind. You will not be asked to pay any fees upfront or during the claim, and should your case be unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any of the fees your solicitor has incurred in pursuing your case. If, however, your claim is successful, your solicitor may seek a small contribution towards their costs. This is known as a ‘success fee’ and would be deducted from the compensation awarded at the end of the claim. Don’t’ worry, the success fee is legally capped. 

    If you would like to know more about No Win No Fee claims or you have any further questions about how they work, we’d be happy to talk to you.

    Talk To Us About Your Claim

    Are you looking for advice on your road accident without a seat belt? Or are you ready to make a claim for a car accident without a seat belt and want to get advice and support? Whether you’d like us to offer you some guidance on how long you could have to make a claim in terms of the personal injury claims time limit, or you’re unsure as to whether you’d be eligible to begin a personal injury claim, we could help. 

    We could also connect you with a solicitor who could begin a claim on your behalf. There are several ways to get in touch with us, and we would be happy to help you. If you call 0161 696 9685, you can speak to a member of our team right away, or if you’d like us to call you, you could fill out the contact form instead. If you’d like to use the live chat feature, you can find it below.

    Resources For Claimants

    Seat Belt Law – Here, you can find more detailed guidance on the legalities of wearing seat belts.

    The Law In Full – The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of seat belts) Regulations 1993.

    50 Years Of Seat belt Law – This page explains a selection of THINK! advertisements that were made available on the web to celebrate 50 years of seat belt law.

    Emergency Services Vehicle Accident Claims – Here, you can read our guidance on emergency services vehicle accidents.

    Car Accident Claims – We offer guidance on making a car accident claim on this page.

    Taxi Accidents – You can read more guidance on having an accident in a taxi here.

    Claim For A Car Accident Without A Seat Belt FAQs

    Could it affect your insurance claim if you’re not wearing a seat belt?

    Although it’s not ideal to be in a crash where you’re not wearing a seat belt, this doesn’t specifically alter your insurance claim. You could still claim because an accident has occurred. Keep in mind that wearing a seat belt keeps you safe, but the crash could still happen nonetheless.

    But is it not a sign of negligence to not be wearing a seat belt?

    It is a law for all road passengers to wear seat belts. However, not wearing a seat belt isn’t a sign of negligence. That’s because negligence comes from whomever or whatever caused the road accident rather than one’s decision to avoid wearing a seat belt. That oversight influences the impact of any injuries rather than the crash itself.

    What could happen to you if you’re in a crash and not wearing a seat belt?

    The importance of wearing a seat belt is to protect you in case a crash ever occurs. By not wearing a seat belt, you risk being thrown forward at a rapid pace if a collision happens. This could result in you suffering serious injuries or even dying from the impact of the crash.

    Are there any penalties for not wearing a seat belt?

    If you’re caught driving without a seat belt, you could be fined £500 and receive three penalty points on your licence. The same punishment applies if you’re found to be carrying a passenger under 14 who is not wearing a seat belt.

    Guide by JS

    Edited by REG

    Thank you for reading our guide about making a claim for a car accident without a seat belt.