The short answer is “Yes! Seatbelt use is allowed as evidence of negligence in an auto accident.”
Under Texas Rules of Evidence 402, civil courts in Texas allow most relevant evidence to be heard in a lawsuit.
Until February 13, 2015, Texas court rulings stated that a driver’s failure to wear a seat belt could not be admitted as evidence to decide a Texas auto accident lawsuit.
However, as part of Texas’ shift to partial fault in deciding lawsuits, that rule was overturned by the Texas Supreme Court ruled in Nabors v. Romero. In Nabors v. Romero, the Court ruled that not wearing a seatbelt could be evidence that a driver was careless (negligent), and partly at fault.
Under Texas law, any money someone receives in a negligence lawsuit is reduced if that person is at fault. So if a driver is 20% at fault and has $1000 in repair costs and medical bills, the driver receives only 80% of that money ($800).
In Texas, a driver who is more than 51% percent at fault cannot receive any money in a lawsuit for injuries, even if the other driver was also partly at fault.
For example, in the case of Nabors v. Loera, the Texas Supreme Court followed Nabors v. Romero by allowing evidence that injured passengers had not worn seat belts.
The Court then ruled that not wearing a seat belt was negligent, and because of that carelessness, the injured passengers received no money for the injuries.
If you have been injured in an Texas auto accident and were not wearing your seatbelt, you need to know your rights. Contact Justinian & Associates for a free and confidential consultation with a real personal injury attorney (not a screener). We’ll hear your story, and explain your options under Texas state law.