West Virginia Seat Belt Laws & Car Accident Claims (Part A)

West Virginia seat belt laws may impact your car accident claim due to a provision in the code allowing your award for damages sustained in a car accident to be reduced by as much as 5% if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the collision.

In practice, this means that if a jury or judge finds in your favor and awards you $100,000 for your injuries in your car accident claim in West Virginia, you will only receive $95,000 if it is proven that you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your car accident.

West Virginia Seat Belt Laws

West Virginia seat belt laws became effective on September 1, 1993, and state that all persons riding in a passenger vehicle must wear seat belts if they are in the front seats, and all passengers aged 8 - 17 years must wear seat belts in any seats, front or back.

Furthermore, West Virginia seat belt laws require children under the age of 8 years to be secured in either a child safety seat, or a booster seat, as applicable under the code. Any child younger than 8 years old who is at least 4' 9" tall can ride as a back seat passenger secured by a seat belt.

These laws are written and enforced to protect people from the hazards of a severe impact in a car accident. However, non-use of your seat belt does not necessarily indicate that your injuries were the result of not using a seat belt, which is why you are still entitled to damages for your car accident injuries.

The impact that West Virginia's seat belt laws will have upon your award or settlement is not cut and dry. Your car accident claim in West Virginia will only be affected under certain procedural rules.

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