Missouri "Seat Belt Defense" in auto accident cases

Posted By Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney || 1-Nov-2011

If you are injured in a car accident in Missouri and another driver was at fault, you are entitled to compensation. But what happens if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident, as required by Missouri law? Everyone knows that wearing seat belts can sometimes minimize injuries in an accident--that is why they are required by law in all fifty states.

What is the "seat belt defense?"

This defense is used to claim that the victim in a car accident shares some of the liability for the accident because he or she was not wearing their seat belt at the time of the accident. This argument is used in court to try to reduce the amount of damages plaintiffs can recover.

Nationwide, 31 states have completely rejected the seat belt defense, whereas 15 states do allow it to some degree. In states that do allow the seat belt defense, a plaintiff's damages could be reduced based on the theory of "comparative negligence" or a "failure to mitigate damages."

Does Missouri allow the "seat belt defense?"

Missouri is one of the states that will allow defense attorneys to bring up the fact that you were not wearing your seat belt during the accident. However, according to Missouri statute, only 1% of fault can be assessed against you by the jury. If the defense does bring this issue up in court, your attorney can ask the judge for a limiting instruction, advising the jury that they cannot assess more than 1% of fault based on that fact.