If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by someone else but you were not wearing your seat belt at the time, you still have every right to file a claim against the other driver and recover compensation for the losses you’ve incurred. However, the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt could result in a lower payout.
In 1974, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that information about seatbelt usage was not admissible in accident claims brought before a Texas court. In 2015, however, the SCOTX reversed that ruling, deciding that evidence of seat belt use can be admissible to apportion comparative negligence in all future auto accident cases.
Drivers in Texas are required by law to wear a seat belt, and while someone failing to do so likely won’t cause an accident, it could be argued that your injuries may have been less severe had you been buckled up. For example, if a jury were to find that you suffered $100,000 in damages (medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.), but also decided that you were 30% at-fault for your injuries by not wearing a seat belt, you’d ultimately be awarded only 70% of the $100,000 — or $70,000.
The important part to remember is that as long as the car accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, you’ll still be able to recover compensation for your losses. The amount you receive, however, may ultimately be reduced.