Can I claim compensation if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?

If you were injured in a car accident as a driver or passenger and you were not wearing a seatbelt, a compensation claim may still be possible.

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Driving without a seatbelt

What does the law say about wearing a seatbelt?

In the UK, the law requires both drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt. If you are driving non-commercially, however, you don't need to wear a seatbelt when:

  • Reversing
  • Teaching a learner driver to reverse
  • Medically exempt

A child who is under 135cm tall must also be strapped into the appropriate seat restraint, such as a baby seat or booster seat.

If you are caught driving or riding as a passenger when not wearing a seatbelt, you could face a fine of up to £500.

As a driver, you are also liable to prosecution if any passenger under 14 is not wearing a seatbelt or suitably restrained. Again, the maximum fine is £500.

Contributory negligence

If you were injured when not wearing a seatbelt and you decide to make a claim, your case would be assessed on its' individual merit.

The defendant might not dispute your claim that they caused the accident. The defendant might, however, argue that you (the claimant) caused your injuries to be more severe by not wearing a seatbelt.

This defence is known as 'contributory negligence'. In effect, your negligence contributed to your injuries.

According to the Road Safety Observatory (ERSO), seatbelts are 45% effective at preventing serious injuries and 25% effective at preventing minor injuries in drivers.

The defendant's solicitor may use these statistics, in concert with any supporting medical evidence, to argue that your injuries would have been less severe if you had worn a seatbelt.

If the defendant's contributory negligence defence is successful, your claim can still succeed but the amount of compensation you will receive may be reduced.

How will the amount of compensation be calculated?

General damages compensation is calculated with reference to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury.

If it is decided that your injuries would have been the same if you were wearing a seatbelt, you would be awarded the full amount of compensation (as set out in the Guidelines) for your injuries.

However, if it is demonstrated that not wearing a seatbelt did worsen your injuries, your compensation would be reduced according to your contribution to your injuries.

If you and the defendant agree on the apportionment of liability for your injuries, your compensation may be settled on the basis of a split liability agreement.

Under a split liability agreement, if you are 25% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 75% of the compensation you would have received if you had been wearing a seatbelt. If you were equally liable you would receive 50%. If you are 75% responsible, you would receive 25% of the full compensation amount.

What happens if my claim goes to court?

Generally, only very complex cases or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court. Quittance’s solicitor panel settles the vast majority of claims are settled out of court.

If a settlement cannot be reached, there is a small chance ( < 5%) that your claim could progress to court.

If the court makes a contributory negligence ruling, they may adopt the same approach as set out above.

The court may refer to the landmark case of Froom v Butcher (1975), where the compensation deducted will be calculated as follows:

  • If no (or virtually no) injuries would have been sustained if a seatbelt had been worn, 25% will be deducted
  • If your injuries would have been less severe if a seatbelt had been worn, 15% will be deducted

Read more:

How often do injury claims go to court and what if they do?

Low value injury claims - Updated March 2022

The regulations for making a lower-value road accident claim (sometimes called 'small claims') have changed.

From 31 May 2021, some lower-value injury claims should be made using the Ministry of Justice's new Official Injury Claim Service online portal.

If you were injured in a vehicle, and the general damages for your injuries are likely to be under £5,000, the Official portal will be used to make your claim. The portal should also be used if the total value (general damages and special damages) for your claim is less than £10,000.

Claims for cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and children are not affected by the new regulations.

The new process can be daunting, and we are here to help. You can still use a solicitor to calculate the value of your compensation and to help you make a low value claim through the portal.

No Win, No Fee compensation for low value injury claims

Some solicitors are no longer assisting with lower-value claims, but we can still help you make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim for a lower-value road accident claim.

Read more:

Claiming compensation through the small claims process.

How to use the Official Injury Claim portal to claim compensation

What if I am not yet sure of the extent of my injury?

If you have not yet sought medical attention, your solicitor will arrange a medical assessment for you ASAP. If you are awaiting test results, a claim can still be started. Once the extent of the injuries are known, the settlement can be calculated.

Calculate my injury compensation

Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.

Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.

Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:

Calculate compensation

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.

Less than 5% of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are decided by a judge or magistrate, not a jury.

Even if the claim does go to court, it is very unlikely you will have to attend.

Read more:

Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

How does no win, no fee work?

Under a no win, no fee agreement (known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA') you can make an injury claim without having to worry about upfront legal fees. If your injury claim is unsuccessful you won't have to pay any money to your solicitor.

No win, no fee - our guarantee

If you have been injured and it wasn't your fault, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of making an injury compensation claim. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

What do I pay if I win my injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, only after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?

If your injury claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.

How we can help you

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning road accident claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open:

  • 8am to 9pm weekdays
  • 9am to 6pm on Saturday
  • 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday

Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:

Call me back
  • Tick icon FREE consultation
  • Tick icon Find out if you can claim
  • Tick icon No obligation to start a claim

Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more:

Claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I feel I was partly responsible for my accident?

Yes. You may still be able to claim compensation even if your actions may have contributed to the accident.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more:

Claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long do I have to make an injury claim?

In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.

The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.

Can I claim for an injury after 3 years?

Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.

However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.

If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.

In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a car accident claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

Calculate your claim limitation date

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office to start a claim?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. Personal injury claims are handled by email, post and phone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more:

Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

I need the money now - what are my options?

If you are unable to work and have bills to pay, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

An interim payment is an advance on your compensation payment. Any amount you receive in interim payments would be deducted from your final compensation payment.

Read more:

How to I get an interim compensation payment?

Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director