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Determining seat belt usage liability

Most in New Haven do not need to be told of the benefits that come (or perhaps more importantly, the consequences that are avoided) by wearing seat belts. Plenty of evidence exists to show why wearing a seat belt might a good idea. Indeed, information shared by the Connecticut Department of Transportation shows that seat belt usage reduces accident fatalities by as much as 60-70 percent and the overall occurrence of car accident injuries by 50 percent. Yet still, some refuse wear them. This opens the door to the discussion of whether or not drivers can be held liable for injuries sustained by passengers that were not wearing their seat belts. 

Section 14-100a(c) of Connecticut's General Statutes shows that while all drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear seat belts, drivers are only legally required to ensure that passengers between the ages of seven and 18 are are wearing seat belts. They are also responsible for ensuring that children six years of age or younger are secured in an approved safety restraint or harness. All passengers in a vehicle are required to wear seat belts when its driver is less than 18 years old. 

This law seemingly absolves a driver of liability if their adult passengers are not wearing seat belts, yet this may not necessarily be the case. General property liability standards place the responsibility on property owners to ensure that all guests are protected from both visible as well as potential dangers. One's vehicle is certainly their property, and the possibility of being involved in an accident could certainly be seen as a potential danger. Thus, it may be possible for one to argue that a motorist has a duty to ensure that all their passengers are safely secured, regardless of age. 

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