From November 1, 2020, a change in the New York state law mandates all front and back seat car passengers to wear seat belts. The new regulation also requires a properly fitted car seat for all children under the age of eight. The revised law applies to privately-owned cars, cabs, Uber, and Lyft.
Here’s why seat belts are important
Seat belts save lives, and their importance cannot be overstated. A report by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration suggests that 47% of the 37,133 people killed in motor vehicle accidents were not wearing seat belts. The report also mentioned that wearing seat belts saved the lives of nearly 15000 people.
Unfortunately, people often do not wear seat belts, especially those in the back seat, despite known benefits. Even in states where back seat passengers must wear seat belts, only about 81% report they abide by the law. In states where the law does not mandate it, only 67% wear a seat belt in the back seat. Moreover, if you’re in a car accident, not wearing a seat belt can put you at a higher risk of severe injuries, which require long recovery periods. We urge you and your loved ones to wear seat belts and stay safe.
Seat belt laws in New York state
Interestingly, in 1984, New York became the first state in the country to mandate passengers to wear a seatbelt. Until now, passengers aged 16 years or above were required to wear a seat belt only in the front seat next to the driver. However, as of November 1, 2020, all passengers are required to wear a seat belt, including back seat passengers.
How the seat belt law works
Violators of the seat belt law can be fined up to $50 per person. Drivers can also be fined $25 to $100 and receive three penalty points on their driver licenses for each violation.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, a car accident lawyer can help you file a claim against the negligent driver and seek compensation for the injuries and other damages caused. However, if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, it can substantially impact your claim and compensation. If you were not wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred, three doctrines can be used by the negligent party’s lawyer against you, namely contributory negligence, comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligence.
Every state is free to choose the doctrine. In New York State, the comparative negligence doctrine is applied in a case where the victim is also at fault in an accident. Comparative negligence refers to a comparative analysis where the accident victim shares blame for the injuries caused to them. If this doctrine is applied, the victim can recover some amount in the form of compensation. Still, a certain percentage of the amount is reduced to hold the victim accountable for their mistakes in causing the accident or injuries. However, in the case of not wearing a seat belt, comparative negligence will only be applied if the absence of a seat belt either caused the accident or any injury.
A car accident lawyer will carefully go through the details of your accident to suggest the best way forward.
We urge you to take note of the regulation change and ensure that you wear a seat belt, whether in the front or back seat. We wish you and your loved ones a safe drive.