Can I Claim If I Was Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

I Was Not Wearing A Seatbelt When I Had An Accident, Can I Still Claim Compensation?

We all know that seatbelts are meant to protect us from becoming injured in a car accident. But what if you were not wearing a seatbelt and sustained injuries in an accident that wasn’t your fault.? Would you be eligible to make a personal injury claim? Or would you have to accept that you played a part in the injuries you’ve sustained, and give up any hope of compensation? We have created this guide to answer some frequently asked questions about what happens in personal injury claims when someone was not wearing a seatbelt.

Can I Claim If I Was Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

In the sections below, we discuss what the law says about wearing seatbelts, both for drivers and passengers in motor vehicles. We take a look at whose responsibility it is to ensure that occupants of a vehicle wear their seatbelts, and what types of injuries people could sustain if they are in an RTA and haven’t fastened their seatbelt prior to the accident. In addition, we also talk about the levels of compensation that could be appropriate for injuries that people could sustain in such an accident, and how compensation payouts could vary depending on whether you were partly to blame for your own injuries.

We hope you find the guidance useful. If you wish to obtain free legal advice tailored to your own case, our advisors could provide this to you over the phone. All you need to do is call on 0161 696 9685. They could even help you begin a personal injury claim by putting you in touch with a personal injury solicitor who could fight for compensation on your behalf.

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A Guide To Road Traffic Accident Claims If You Were Not Wearing A Seatbelt

If you’re in a road traffic accident as the driver or passenger of a motor vehicle, you would expect your seatbelt to provide some assistance when it comes to reducing your risk of serious injury. But what happens if you don’t wear a seatbelt? Could you sustain more serious injuries, and could this affect your ability to claim compensation if the accident wasn’t your fault? Would compensation payouts be lower to reflect you not protecting yourself as you should by wearing your seatbelt? These are all common questions when it comes to those injured when not wearing a seatbelt in an accident that wasn’t their fault, and this guide aims to provide some clarity on this issue.

In the sections below, we take a look at why seatbelts were introduced, how they work and what the law surrounding seatbelt wearing is. We examine the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt in the UK and answer questions relating to whose responsibility it is to ensure occupants of a vehicle are wearing their seatbelts. We also look at whether a passenger not wearing a seatbelt could claim against the driver of a car they are injured in. Finally, we look at why you might require legal assistance when making a claim for compensation, and how you could obtain this assistance without paying legal fees upfront.

If you have any questions at all, call on the number at the top of the page. Our advisors could help and you don’t have to proceed with our services after talking.

Calculate Compensation For A Car Accident When Not Wearing A Seatbelt

You might wonder how courts and lawyers calculate compensation payouts for personal injury claims. If so, you might be interested to learn that they would not use a personal injury claims calculator to ascertain appropriate compensation amounts for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity injuries cause. Instead, they would carefully assess the evidence, circumstances and facts of the case.

One important piece of evidence that they would assess would be the medical report. You would obtain such a report by attending an appointment with an independent medic. The medical expert would review any relevant medical notes, examine your injuries and provide a report detailing their professional assessment of your injuries as well as your prognosis. Courts and lawyers could use this, along with a legal publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to come to an appropriate value for your injuries.

Below, we have produced a table containing figures taken from the JCG. If you cannot find your injury in the table, please call us. We’ll be able to provide information on other injuries over the phone.

Injury type Notes Guideline Payout Bracket
Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Cases so severe that the person may be unable to work. The condition would impact every area of their life. £56,180 to £94,470
Moderate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In these cases, the injured party would have almost entirely recovered. Any lasting effects would not be highly disturbing. £7,680 to £21,730
Severe neck injuries (i) Injuries include incomplete paraplegia or permanent cases of spastic quadriparesis. In the region of £139,210
Moderate neck injury (i) Neck injuries limiting a person’s ability to go about normal daily activities, or those that lead to chronic conditions. Severe fractures/dislocations could also be included here. £23,460 to £36,120
Minor neck injury Soft tissue injuries that are minor could be compensated for in this bracket. Up to £7,410
Severe back injury (i) Where there is spinal cord or nerve root damage. There could be serious consequences of such an injury. £85,470 to £151,070
Moderate back injury (i) Injuries include lumbar region vertebrae crush/compression fractures leading to osteoarthritis as well as ongoing pain. £26,050 to £36,390
Minor back injury (i) Injuries include strains, sprains and other soft tissue injuries with a recovery period of 2 to 5 years. £7,410 to £11,730
Severe shoulder injury Examples of injuries in this bracket could include significant disabilities from brachial plexus damage. £18,020 to £45,070
Moderate shoulder injury Your symptoms could last for around 2 years. Frozen shoulder/soft tissue injuries could be compensated for in this bracket. £7,410 to £11,980
Minor shoulder injury Soft tissue injuries causing pain with a full recovery within 2 years. £4,080 to £7,410

Compensation For Losses And Expenses Caused By Your Accident

If you receive a compensation settlement for a road traffic accident, you might not realise it, but the settlement may include different types of damages.

General Damages

General damages compensate personal injury victims for their suffering, pain and loss of amenity. The amounts in the table above are examples of general damages payouts. Courts and lawyers come to appropriate settlements for these damages by assessing how severe the injuries are and how they affect the victim in the short and long term.

Special Damages

Special damages compensate victims for the quantifiable financial impact of their injuries. You would need to evidence any costs and losses you experience as a direct result of your injuries to claim for them. It could be a wise idea to keep hold of documentation such as bank statements, receipts, payslips and bills for this reason. There are various types of special damages you could claim, as we describe below.

Loss Of Income

If you suffer serious injuries that mean you cannot attend work as normal, you could lose out on income. Special damages payouts could include such a loss of earnings. You could even claim for overtime or bonuses you’ve missed out on. If you are unable to return to work due to the severity of your injuries, you could even receive a payout for future loss of income in some cases.

Care Costs

Sadly, some people suffer such serious injuries that they are unable to care for themselves. If someone has to care for you at home because of your injuries, whether long-term or short-term, you could claim care costs as special damages.

Travel Costs

Some personal injury victims claim for travel costs they incur while attending hospital appointments or lawyer’s meetings.

Medical Expenses

If a personal injury victim incurs medical expenses, such as physiotherapy costs, counselling costs or prescription charges, they could include such costs within their claims.

What Injuries Are Caused By Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

According to the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), nearly a third of those killed in road traffic collisions in 2018 in Great Britain weren’t wearing seatbelts. Seatbelts are a safety feature that are meant to protect the occupants of a motor vehicle from 3 different types of collision, which are:

  1. The collision of a vehicle with another object.
  2. A collision of a vehicle occupant with the interior of the vehicle.
  3. The collision of the occupant’s internal organs with other organs or their skeletal structure.

What Happens When You Crash Without Wearing A Seatbelt?

Depending on the speeds at which the vehicle is travelling and the severity of the collision, car occupants not wearing a seatbelt could sustain:

  • Facial injuries, such as a broken nose or a head injury from hitting the seat in front/the windscreen
  • A traumatic head injury or traumatic brain injury if they collide with the vehicle’s interior or are thrown from the vehicle
  • Broken bones from being thrown around the vehicle or out of it
  • Chest and abdomen injuries

Can You Get Whiplash Without Wearing A Seatbelt?

While you might assume that being restrained by a seatbelt could mean a whiplash injury could be more common, you might be interested to learn that those without a seatbelt could sustain whiplash injuries too. The jerking of the head and neck that cause whiplash injuries could occur with or without a seatbelt.

If you’ve sustained one of the injuries above, or other injuries, and are wondering if you could claim compensation, we could help. You can call us for free legal advice and an eligibility check, even if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

What Is The Penalty For Not Wearing A Seatbelt In The UK?

If you’re wondering what the penalty is for not wearing a seatbelt, if you as the driver do not wear a seatbelt, and you are supposed to, you can receive a fine of up to £500. Adult passengers in vehicles are responsible for wearing their own seatbelts. If you’re wondering who gets fined for not wearing a seatbelt if there are children involved, this would be the driver. The driver can be fined £500 if children under 14 aren’t in appropriate seats or wearing seatbelts.

How Do Seatbelts Work?

The purpose of a seatbelt is to protect occupants of a vehicle from serious injuries in a car crash. To answer the question ‘how does a seatbelt work?’, its main aim is to restrain the passenger to the seat and keep them more static. It works to stop occupants of a vehicle from colliding with other passengers in the vehicle, as well as the interior of the vehicle. It also stops occupants from being thrown out of the vehicle in a collision.

Most seatbelts have two main parts: a lap belt that goes across the pelvis, and the shoulder part that extends across the chest. Both belts work together by securing the pelvis and ribcage, to minimise the effect of a collision on the body of the wearer.

What Happens When You Crash Without Wearing A Seatbelt?

If you’re in a road traffic accident and you are not wearing a seatbelt, depending on where you are in the vehicle, you could sustain injuries or even injure someone else. Examples of how this could happen could include:

  • Unrestrained back seat passengers flying forward into the person in front
  • Front seat passengers hitting their head on the windscreen

This was illustrated in a study conducted to assess the impact of not wearing a seatbelt. (source:

However, there are various other ways in which people could be injured in a car accident when not wearing a seatbelt. Being thrown around a vehicle or out of it could lead to:

  • Pelvis and back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones

What Are The Odds Of Dying From A Car Crash With No Seat Belt?

Sadly, some injuries in a car crash when not wearing a seatbelt could be fatal. According to THINK!, you’re twice as likely to sustain a fatal injury if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.

Seat Belt Laws In The UK

Wearing a seatbelt was enshrined into law on 31st January 1983. In 1991, the law changed again to make it illegal for adults not to wear seatbelts in the back of a car. There are only a few exceptions to this:

  • When you have a medical exemption (you must have a certificate for this)
  • If you’re in a vehicle used for rescue, fire or police services
  • When you are a passenger in a vehicle used for trade and are investigating a suspected fault
  • If you’re delivering goods from a goods vehicle and there are fewer than 50 metres between your stops
  • When you’re reversing, or you’re supervising a learner that is reversing
  • If you’re a licensed taxi driver ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers

If a vehicle does not have child restraints or seatbelts, you cannot carry children under the age of 3.

How Contributory Negligence Could Affect Your Claim

If you are not wearing a seatbelt and sustain injuries from a car crash, your car accident claim could be affected by something called contributory negligence. There are two sides to this, however, whether you’re claiming as a driver injured by another motorist, or a passenger in a car accident where the driver’s negligence caused an accident.

  • One view could be that the other party’s negligent driving caused the accident. If they had not driven negligently, the accident would have been unlikely to happen.
  • The other view could be that the claimant not wearing a seatbelt caused them more serious injuries than they would have sustained had they worn one.

A Legal Precedent

In Froom v Butcher 1976, the presiding judge ruled that the claimant’s compensation must be reduced by 25% to reflect their contribution to their injuries. This means that lawyers and courts could argue that your compensation should be reduced if you claim compensation but were not wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred.

Working Out Liability When You Were Not Wearing A Seatbelt

If you’re injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, when not wearing a seatbelt, there could be a liability on both sides. Drivers in the UK have a legal responsibility to take care when operating a vehicle on the road. If they do not do so, and their negligence causes a road traffic accident, they could be held liable for injuries people sustain as a result of that accident.

However, the liable party could argue that your injuries were only as serious as they were because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. This is why it could be wise to opt for legal support when making such a claim. If you’d like to benefit from free legal advice or you’d like us to help you find a lawyer to help you, we’d be happy to talk to you.

No Win No Fee Claims For RTAs When Not Wearing A Seatbelt

It could be a wise idea to seek out a personal injury lawyer when making a claim for injuries you sustain while not wearing a seatbelt. If you’re worried about paying legal fees upfront, it could be worth seeking out a No Win No Fee laywer to help you. Making No Win No Fee claims means you don’t pay any solicitor fees until your claim ends. You would also only pay them if your case was a success.

How No Win No Fee Claims Work

  • Your chosen lawyer would send you a No Win No Fee agreement. They would ask you to carefully review it, sign it and send it back. Within the document are details of a success fee. This is a small, legally capped percentage of your total payout. You only pay this if your lawyer gets you compensation.
  • Once you sign and send back the agreement, your lawyer would begin to build your case and fight for compensation for you. Many claims never reach court, but if yours does, your lawyer would support you through the process.
  • Your compensation payout would come through. Your lawyer would deduct the aforementioned success fee, and the rest would benefit you.

If your lawyer can’t get compensation for you, you wouldn’t pay their success fee. You wouldn’t cover their fee during the claims process either. We have produced a guide that explains more about No Win No Fee Agreements here. If you have any questions, however, you can always pick up the phone and talk to our team; we’ll be happy to give you the information you’re looking for.

Why Choose Our Friendly Team?

Whether you’re looking for free legal advice, or have questions about making a claim, we’d be glad to help you. Our knowledgeable advisors could help you work out what the personal injury claims time limit could be for your claim. We could also connect you with a lawyer that could take on your case. We offer a simple, 3 step process to take the stress out of making a claim.

Get in touch with our team by phone, contact form or live chat Our advisors will assess your case and provide you with free legal advice. When you are ready, we can help you start your claim.

Talk To Our Road Traffic Accident Claims Team

Are you ready to begin your claim, or would you like further advice on making a claim? Either way, we’re ready to help you. You can reach the team here at by:

More Information On Car And Traffic Accident Claims

Road Traffic Injury Statistics: If you’d like to know how many accidents occur on UK roads, this link provides statistics.

Seat Belts: Time For Action: You can read PACTS’ publication on seat belts here.

The Road Traffic Act 1991: Here, you can find the Road Traffic Act in its entirety.

Can A Whiplash Claim Be Refused?: You can read more about whiplash injuries and whether you could claim for them here.

Passenger Accident Claims: Find out more about claiming as a passenger in this guide.

Who Could Be Liable If There’s Mud On The Road?: Find out whether you could make a claim for an accident caused by mud on the road here.

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