Wearing a seat belt properly while driving is a well-established safety measure that helps prevent thousands of passengers from vehicular death every year. As the single most effective thing someone can do to protect themselves in a crash, it is no wonder that the United States has specific laws to protect their citizens.
In fact, according to the NHTSA, those who buckle up in the front seat reduce risk of fatal injury in a vehicle crash by 45 percent and moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
Types of seat belt laws: primary and secondary
In states that have specific laws spelled out for seat belt use, there are two forms of enforcement. Primary enforcement seat belt laws allow police officers to stop vehicles for the sole reason of someone not wearing their seat belt. Secondary enforcement laws require officers to have another reason to stop the vehicle before giving a citation for not utilizing a seat belt.
While specific laws vary from state to state, New Hampshire is the only one with no seat belt laws for adults in any seat. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have primary seat belt laws for front seat passengers, and 15 have secondary laws for adult front seat occupants.
Additionally, some states enforce seat belt laws for all occupants of a vehicle, while others only require the driver and front seat passenger to comply. Many states also have different laws regarding children versus adult passengers.
What are the seat belt laws in Missouri?
Missouri falls into the secondary enforcement category when it comes to seat belt laws. The law may be enforced for those seated in the driver’s seat, the front passenger seat, and passengers 16 years of age or older. As a secondary enforcement law, a citation for any violation can only occur if the vehicle is pulled over for another reason or violation.
When it comes to children ages eight to 15 years, however, Missouri law allows for primary enforcement. This includes children seated anywhere in the vehicle, unlike the rule for adult citations. Therefore, an officer who spots an unbuckled child is able to pull over the vehicle solely on that law violation. The aim is to protect our most vulnerable children from fatal and critical injuries in vehicle accidents.
What are Missouri’s child restraint laws?
For children under eight years old, Missouri requires additional safety measures. If a child is under four years old or weighs less than 40 pounds, they must be buckled into an appropriate child safety seat. For those between ages four and seven or at least 40 pounds, they must be strapped into a child safety seat or booster seat. If a child is over eight or weighs at least 80 pounds or is above 4’9’’ tall, they may forgo a booster seat, but require a secured safety belt.
What are the penalties for not wearing a seat belt?
As spelled out in Missouri’s code MO Rev Stat § 307.178, violators of seat belt laws in Missouri will face a fine of 10 dollars. Parents and caregivers should be aware, however, the fine for not having proper a child safety seat or booster up to 73 dollars.
What happens after a wreck if you were not wearing your seat belt?
If you have been in an car accident and suffered personal injury or other damages, not having complied with seat belt laws should not greatly affect your case. Missouri law states “failure to wear a safety belt … shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence.”
In some circumstances, a safety belt violation may be considered in order to mitigate damages, but only when:
- Expert evidence is provided to prove that failure to wear the safety belt contributed to the injuries claimed.
- If evidence supports a finding that failure to wear a seat belt contributed to the claimed injuries, they may reduce the amount towards the plaintiff’s recovery by no more than one percent of the damages after reduction for comparative negligence.
Simply put, if you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, you won’t be at much disadvantage when trying your case in Missouri.
Why do I need an attorney for my personal injury case?
While failure to wear a seat belt may not penalize you from receiving proper compensation for damages, you still want a skilled Missouri injury attorney to help secure the fair amount for your losses. Whether you are facing property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, permanent disability, rehabilitation or therapy expenses, or long-term pain and suffering, an experienced attorney can advocate for your right to fair and just compensation.
To get the results you need when you need them most, contact The Hayden Law Firm. The support from our dedicated team can mean all the difference when it comes to the most successful outcome for your claim. Our team will personally support you and your case by providing:
- One-on-one discussions regarding every detail of your case
- Resources to locate key witnesses that will support your claim
- Pertinent reports either from the police or other sources that will be crucial for your case
- Support in finding quality medical care needed for your injuries and the proper coverage for those expenses
- Compelling litigation tactics when negotiating with the negligent party’s insurance company
- Resources from our network of professionals built over a decade
- Understanding for everything pertaining to your case, from beginning to end
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a car accident, get the help from an experienced St. Louis attorney today. At The Hayden Law Firm, we know personal injury claims require skilled and strategic planning. If you have suffered injuries because of another person’s negligence, contact us today. You can call our offices at 314-207-5492 or fill out our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation. The Hayden Law Firm is based in St. Louis, Missouri, but we proudly serve clients throughout Missouri and Illinois.
Attorney Amanda L. Hayden has dedicated her legal career to fearlessly advocating for clients and their families after their lives have been devastated by the careless and/or reckless conduct of others.
Read more about Amanda L. Hayden