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Is It Possible to Recover Damages In an Accident If I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt?

Close up of a person wearing casual clothes as they buckle their seat belt

Before 1994, only 26% of front-seat passengers in South Dakota decided to wear a seat belt. Our beautiful state had one of the lowest seat belt usage rates in the country. However, seat belt usage rates have steadily increased in the state since passing the law requiring motorists and their passengers to buckle up.

According to the law, all vehicle operators and front-seat passengers must wear a properly fitting seat belt at all times when the car is moving forward.

So does that mean you are barred from recovering compensation in an injury-sustaining car accident that someone else caused if you weren’t wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred? Read on to find out.

Contributory Negligence Regarding Seat Belts in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the failure to wear a seat belt is inadmissible as evidence in a civil case. In addition, it cannot be argued to suggest contributory negligence, assumption of risk, or mitigation damages.

In other words, the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred is lawfully irrelevant to your case because it cannot be used against you in a court of law.

South Dakota Seat Belt Laws

If you are caught not wearing your seat belt, you may face a fine of $25. However, that does not mean it’s okay to break the law. It is in your own best interest to wear a seat belt every time you get into a vehicle.

More Reasons to Wear a Seat Belt

In 2015, nearly half of all people killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts. Similarly, seat belts reduce the risk of death to front-seat passengers by 45% and by 60% for those in light trucks.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form.