If I was at-fault for an accident but my passenger was not wearing their seatbelt, am I liable?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011Fact Checked

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If I was at-fault for an accident but my passenger was not wearing their seatbelt, am I liable?

All other passengers in my car were uninjured; the passengers in the car I hit were uninjured. It is in the state of AR, which requires seat belts. The “injured” passenger went to go eat lunch at a restaurant directly after.

Asked on August 30, 2011 Arkansas


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Since you were at fault in the accident, you would be liable for the passenger's injuries even though the passenger wasn't wearing a seatbelt.  It is not uncommon for injuries to manifest themselves sometime after the accident and not necessarily immediately after the accident.  The passenger's personal injury claim could include medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, and wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will be used to document the nature and extent of the injury, and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  It would be advisable to refer the matter to your auto insurance company.

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