Metro Detroit Auto Accident Attorney
As we all know, wearing your safety belt while driving saves lives. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2014 alone, seat belts saved the lives an estimated 12,802 drivers. What you may not know, is that failing to wear your safety belt can actually negatively impact your motor vehicle negligence case as well.
Under Michigan law, each driver and passenger in a car operated on a street or highway must wear a seat belt. MCL 257.710e(3). Michigan's seat belt laws are even stricter for children. See MCL 257.710d; MCL 257.710e.
Aside from putting you at risk for serious injuries if involved in a car accident, failing to wear your seat belt could make your responsible for a civil infraction. It could also constitute negligence and reduce your tort recovery in a subsequent motor vehicle negligence case against the at-fault driver.
The above statute related to seat belt use provides that "failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section may be considered evidence of negligence and may reduce the recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle." MCL 257.710(h)(7). While failing to wear your seat belt may deem you comparatively negligent, the statue is clear that the damages shall not be reduced by more than 5%. This statute reverses earlier common law, holding that the failure to wear your seat belt was not considered evidence of negligence.