It’s hard to imagine a time now when wearing seat belts wasn’t compulsory, but in fact wearing seat belts in both the front and back of a vehicle has only been a legal requirement since the early nineties. Prior to this, wearing a seat belt was only compulsory in the front of a vehicle. It took ten years for even this law to get through parliament due to various setbacks. Since 1983, it’s estimated that seat belts have saved over 50,000 lives of front passengers alone.
Is it always necessary to wear a seat belt?
Although it’s compulsory for most drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt at all times, there are some exceptions. For example, no one has to wear a seat belt in a vehicle that is being used for police, fire and rescue services. A driver who is reversing doesn’t have to wear a seat belt. Delivery drivers going less than 50 metres between each stop don’t have to wear a seat belt during these short trips. A licensed taxi driver who is ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers is also not required by law to wear a seat belt.
If you have a medical problem that makes wearing a seat belt very uncomfortable or impossible you must obtain legal permission not to wear one. Your doctor can give you a Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing, which you must then keep with you any time you are travelling in a motor vehicle without wearing a seat belt.
Can I still claim personal injury compensation if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt?
Just because you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of an accident does not mean you’re unable to claim personal injury compensation. The accident must be mainly due to the negligence of the other driver, however. If this is the case, you will still be able to claim, but your claim may be deducted due to your ‘contributory negligence.’ The judge will take account of the fact that you should have been wearing a seat belt when assessing the amount of compensation you are due, as your injuries may have been less severe.
If you’d like to find out more about personal injury compensation, call our expert advisors at Accident Advice Helpline. They’ll be able to discuss your situation in detail and explain how a judge will decide on your deductions for contributory negligence.
Date Published: February 18, 2014
Author: David Brown