Publish By
May 8, 2020

Not Wearing A Seat Belt In New York: Legal Consequences

Seatbelts have been a part of the American car scene since the early 1960s when the first states introduced legislation requiring seat belts. The simple fact is that seatbelts save lives and should be encouraged across the board. Each state has different requirements that can vary based on age, which seat in the car you are in and upon whom the consequences fall for not wearing a seatbelt.

New York Legislation

In New York, the law outlines that the driver and passengers in the front seats must wear seat belts at all times. If not there can be up to a $50 fine to both the drivers and the individual not wearing the belt. For children under the age of 16, they must wear a seat belt no matter which seat they are in, that is appropriate for their height and weight, or the driver can be ticketed up to $100 and receive 3 penalty points on their license. License points add up quickly and can increase insurance rates and result ultimately in a suspended license.

There are some additional requirements based on vehicle type and some special circumstances and it is definitely worth checking out the DMV of New York site which outlines everything in detail. The stated reasons for these laws is to protect individuals, since seatbelts reduce the risk of death or injury, and can prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected from the car during a collision.

The “Seat Belt Defense”

The seat belt defense is a unique law that exists in about 15 states and can also result in less recovery of damage payments that one might expect. Since seat belts are proven to reduce the risk of death or injury, in some cases greatly. In accidents where it can be proven that the driver or passengers were not wearing their seat belt then the insurance system can reduce the damage payments awarded by the difference of what the injury would have been, had you been wearing a seatbelt. For any situation, it is best to follow certain steps after an accident, so a strong case can be built.

Let’s take an example:

You were rear-ended, which usually is through no fault of your own.
You are injured with a resulting medical bill of $5000 (and you weren't wearing your seatbelt).
If you HAD been wearing your seatbelt, the same accident potentially could have caused only $3000 of injuries.
The damage awarded by the insurance or court system can then be reduced to only pay the $3000 instead of the $5000. Leaving you on the hook for the additional expenses you had.

This law is viewed by some as being unfair, since as we can see in the above example the driver was rear-ended, and was not driving fast, texting and driving, or other high-risk activity. But because of not wearing their seat belt they are responsible for a percentage of their own medical costs.

The other side of the argument is that there are laws (mentioned above) requiring seat belts, so those that don’t, should be punished.

Getting Legal Help After An Accident

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with this law, it is a reality and in New York a very real thing. Seeking a lawyer who works with accidents can help and evaluate your case down to the last detail providing you with the proper defense.



Ribowsky Law is here to help you with all your injury law needs in Queens, NY.

Contact us at: Ribowsky Law 109-12 Jamaica Ave, Richmond Hill, NY 11418

(718) 659-5333

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