“Seat Belt Evidence” in Maryland Courts
All drivers know that you can get ticketed for driving without buckling up your seat belt. Under Maryland laws, the driver and at least the front seat passenger must use a seat belt and failure to do so will may result in receiving a penalty ticket when your vehicle is stopped by police.
What if you were driving your vehicle without using a seat belt and your vehicle had a collision with another vehicle and now you are in litigation on determining who was negligent and who was at fault for the accident? The law in Maryland is very clear. Failure to use a seat belt cannot be used against you in court as evidence of your negligence or contributory negligence.
The law states:
Failure of an individual to use a seat belt in violation of this section may not:
- Be considered evidence of negligence;
- Be considered evidence of contributory negligence;
- Limit liability of a party or an insurer; or
- Diminish recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle. MD Code TR 22-412.3 (Maryland Code (2022 Edition))
In fact, the law also states that “a party, witness, or counsel may not make reference to a seat belt during a trial of a civil action that involves property damage, personal injury, or death if the damage, injury, or death is not related to the design, manufacture, installation, supplying, or repair of a seat belt…” Id.
You may get ticketed for not using a seat belt when driving your vehicle, but the law in Maryland will not allow that evidence be used against you when determining liability when you get into an accident and pursue a personal injury claim against another driver.
Gorkhmaz M. Asgarov, Esq
is an Attorney & Counselor at Law with Greenblatt & Veliev, LLC, which is a litigation law firm based in Rockville, Maryland that provides services to individuals for personal injury, workers’ compensation, and criminal and traffic defense cases.