What happens if I fail to wear a seat belt in Pennsylvania?

Car Accidents
By Goodwin Como, P.C.

Everyone knows that wearing a seat belt increases safety on the road. But do you always follow this good practice? In this post, we examine some of the laws surrounding seat belt use in Pennsylvania:

Seat belt law

In Pennsylvania, anyone in the driver or passenger seat is required to wear a seat belt whenever the vehicle is operating. In addition, if you have any passengers under the age of 19, it is your responsibility-as the driver-to ensure that they are wearing their seat belts at all times, regardless of where in the vehicle they are seated. If you get caught with children who are not wearing their seat belts, you could face a $10 fine for each child over the age of eight, and $75 for each child eight and younger.

Can I recover damages in an accident if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt?

If a drunk driver runs a red light and plows into your car, you should be able to hold this at-fault driver liable for any damage and injuries you suffered. In some states, however, if you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, you could lose your legal footing to hold the other party liable. This situation is known as the “seat belt defense.”

In Pennsylvania, the seat belt defense is not permitted. In other words, your failure to wear a seat belt does not preclude you from recovering damages in an accident. However, if the insurance company discovers you weren’t wearing a seat belt, they may try to use this fact as leverage to push you into a settlement that isn’t in your best interest. Always talk to an experienced personal injury attorney before making any insurance settlement.