Buckle Up: The Importance of Fastening Your Seat Belt

Driving a motor vehicle can be a dangerous activity. If you have been injured due to the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to compensation. For your safety, it is important to obey all relevant traffic laws, be vigilant to possible hazards, and always wear your seat belt when operating a motor vehicle. What many drivers do not consider, or are unaware of, is that failing to wear your seat belt can negatively impact your personal injury claim.

The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act has provisions which require, barring certain exceptions, that drivers and passengers wear their seat belt during the use of a motor vehicle.[1] If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident and were not wearing your seat belt, the insurance company will likely argue that you were contributorily negligent. This means that they will state your injuries either would not have occurred or would have been less severe had you been wearing your seat belt. If contributory negligence is successfully argued, your personal injury award could be reduced by a certain percentage.

Prior to the implementation of the Insurance Act, Nova Scotia Courts relied on the common law to determine the percentage of reduction in cases where the claimant was not wearing their seat belt. This generally varied between approximately 5-25 percent, depending on the circumstances of the case. Now, the Regulations to the Insurance Act govern the percentage reduction when a claimant fails to wear a seat belt:

10 (1)    Limitation where seat belt not worn – Unless exempt by law from the requirement in the Motor Vehicle Act to wear a seat belt, where an injured person was not wearing a seat belt at the time of an incident, there shall be a reduction of at least twenty-five per cent in damages for bodily injury or death arising directly or indirectly from the use or operation of an automobile in respect of the incident.[2] [Emphasis Added].

Your health and safety should always be your priority. For that reason alone, wearing your seat belt is of the utmost importance. But when things go wrong and you are injured due to the negligence of another driver, you want to be able to receive full compensation for your injuries without reductions. Therefore, you should always buckle up.

If you have been injured in a car accident, regardless of whether you were wearing your seatbelt, contact Wagners and speak to one our experienced Halifax based car accident lawyers.

[1] Motor Vehicle Act, RSNS 1989, c 293, Section 175(2).

[2] Automobile Insurance Contract Mandatory Conditions Regulations made under Section 159 of the Insurance Act R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 231, Section 10(1).

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