Can I make an injury claim if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?
Not wearing a seatbelt in a car or other vehicle increases the risk of severe injury or ejection from a vehicle in accidents. Injuries in no-seatbelt road accidents can be severe.
Although it is a legal requirement to wear 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.
You are not alone
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:
- 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.
If you decide to make a no-seatbelt road accident claim, your road accident solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
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.
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.
Do I have an injury claim?
It should be possible to make an injury claim if:
- you were diagnosed in the last 3 years and;
- someone else, such as another road user, was at least partially to blame.
How much compensation can I claim for a no-seatbelt injury?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
No-seatbelt road accident injury
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you've incurred as a result of your road injury. Compensation can include lost wages and business losses (if you're self-employed), damage and repairs to your car, and any additional expenses directly related to your injury.
These damages will also cover any medical or treatment bills, such as pain medication and psychological support.
Mental health support after a road collision
Road accidents are often unexpected, shocking events that leave lasting psychological effects.
According to our 2023 Road Injury Claimant Survey, 32.47% of injured road users suffered a psychological injury, 78.53% of these alongside a physical injury.
Injuries sustained without a seatbelt can lead to a sense of guilt, amaxophobia (fear of driving or being a passenger), or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
You can claim compensation for recognised psychological harm that arises from a road accident, including PTSD. Your solicitor will help ensure you can access help and mental health support that may not be available on the NHS in your area.
Our compensation calculator can estimate your compensation for psychological injuries. Or you can call us on 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor.
Split liability agreements
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.
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.
Road traffic accidents
No-seatbelt road accident claims are usually categorised as road traffic accident (RTA) claims. Click on the icons below to learn more:
How we can help you with your road accident claim
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.
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Why do most claims never go to court?
Solicitors settle the vast majority of claims out of court.
Less than 2% 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Will I need to go into a solicitor's office?
Claims for no-seatbelt road accident are conducted remotely. This means you won't have to travel to your solicitor's office when making a claim.
On a quick phone call with a friendly advisor, you can explain what happened and find out if you may have a claim. There is no obligation to start a claim.
Once you do start your claim, a road accident solicitor will take you through each step. Your lawyer will be with you throughout the process, from your initial questions to the day you recieve your compensation.
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.
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.