Seat belts, along with airbags, provide crucial protection to drivers and passengers. Because these devices can lessen the harm caused by an accident, they have to worn at all times in New Jersey.
Seat belts must be worn by all passengers and drivers in New Jersey. Children under the age of eight must be fastened into the proper car seats based on their size. The driver of a vehicle is responsible for making sure that all passengers under the age of 18 are wearing their seat belts. Wearing a seat belt as intended can reduce the likelihood that you sustain certain injuries in a car crash. When victims do not wear seat belts, and are injured, New Jersey’s comparative fault laws might come into play. This could lower the compensation you recover in a lawsuit, which is why always wearing your seat belt is of the utmost importance.
To get a free and confidential assessment of your case from our New Jersey car accident lawyers, you can call Legal Care today at (732) 838-9769.
What Are the Seat Belt Laws in New Jersey?
While some states have laxer seat belt laws, New Jersey takes a hard stance on this front. All persons within a car are required to wear seat belts at all times.
According to N.J.S.A. § 39:3-76.2f, all passengers, whether they are sitting in the front or back of a car, must wear seat belts in New Jersey. Furthermore, all passenger cars, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks must be equipped with seat belts for all seats.
If a child is under eight years of age or under 57 inches tall, they must be seated in the appropriate car seat for their age and size. Only once a child passes these parameters can they be in a car without a car seat. Still, they must wear a seat belt.
In New Jersey, drivers are responsible for ensuring all persons under the age of 18 in their vehicles are wearing seat belts properly. Because of this, it is wise to encourage all persons in your car to wear their seat belts at all times.
Failure to wear a seat belt is a secondary offense, meaning you cannot be pulled over if a police officer sees that seat belt requirements are not being met in your vehicle. However, if you are pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding, and seat belts are not worn properly, you can be fined in New Jersey.
Injuries Sustained When Victims Do Not Follow Seat Belt Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey’s strict laws regarding seat belt usage exist for a reason. Data supports the idea that seat belts save lives and can significantly reduce the injuries victims sustain in car accidents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 50%, about 13,000, of the victims killed in car accidents in 2021 were not wearing seat belts during their collisions. When drivers and passengers do not wear seat belts, they risk being ejected from their vehicles or going through windshields. Seat belts can also protect drivers and passengers from the hard impact of airbags, which can cause broken bones or facial fractures during a crash. Airbags work in tandem with seat belts and should not be relied on as your only method of protection in the event of a crash. Seat belts are important for all drivers and passengers, especially pregnant children and adults.
The risk of serious injury increases when victims are unbelted during a car accident in New Jersey. While broken bones are common in these instances, so are more life-altering injuries, such as head injuries, amputations, and spinal cord injuries. Wearing a seat belt is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from injury as a driver or passenger in New Jersey.
Can You Recover Compensation After a Car Accident if You Did Follow the Seat Belt Laws in New Jersey?
If you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of a car accident in New Jersey, you can still recover compensation against a negligent driver. That said, doing so might be more challenging.
New Jersey is a no-fault state for car accidents. This means that victims must prove that their injuries meet New Jersey’s definition of serious injury in order to sue. Otherwise, their main path to recovery will be to file a claim with their own personal injury protection insurance. The problem is, if you were not wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred, the injuries you sustained might be worse than if you had worn a seat belt.
This can make your eligibility to file a claim less clear. If you can file a lawsuit despite the fact that you did not have a seat belt at the time of the collision, your damages might be reduced. This could be because of New Jersey’s rules surrounding comparative negligence.
Because New Jersey follows a modified comparative fault mandate, your damages could be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault if you contributed to the cause of your injuries because you were unbelted at the time. Our Trenton car accident lawyers can combat such arguments by a defendant by getting statements from medical experts who can confirm that you could have sustained the same injuries even if you were properly restrained by a seat belt. To avoid this issue altogether, be sure to wear your seat belt every time you are in a car, whether as a passenger or driver.
If you were wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred, but it was defective, you might have reason to file a claim against your car manufacturer as well as the driver that caused your collision in New Jersey.
Contact Our New Jersey Lawyers About Your Auto Accident Case
Call our Elizabeth, NJ car accident lawyers at (732) 838-9769 to have Legal Care assess your case for free.