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Making a claim when you weren’t wearing a seatbelt

View from rear seat of a car showing seatbeltThe importance of wearing a seatbelt is something that most parents ingrain into their children at an early age, so by the time they become teenagers, and eventually drivers themselves, getting into a car and instantly putting the seatbelt on has become second nature.

However, sometimes people can be forgetful or a little irresponsible, and in a worst-case scenario, may find themselves in a car accident while not wearing a seatbelt.

That leaves the victims wondering what happens with their compensation claim if they weren’t wearing a seatbelt?

Is it illegal to drive in the UK without a seatbelt?

If the vehicle has seatbelts installed, then yes, in the UK, it is illegal to drive without wearing the seatbelt.

Does this mean I can’t make a claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and were not wearing a seatbelt, you may be surprised to learn that although wearing a seatbelt is a legal requirement, you aren’t instantly ineligible for compensation. With that said, the fact you weren’t wearing a seatbelt may still have a negative impact on your claim.

You should always wear a seatbelt when you are driving or traveling as a passenger in a car, but if you have unfortunately been involved in an accident while not wearing a seatbelt at the time of injury, our expert personal injury solicitors may be able to help.

Below we will inform you of what you need to know when it comes to the law that surrounds driving without a seatbelt and how failing to wear a seatbelt could impact your compensation claim.

Read: Common causes of road traffic accidents

UK law on wearing a seatbelt

It is a legal requirement to wear a seatbelt if the vehicle you are traveling in has them fitted.

Some classic vehicles don’t have seatbelts fitted, so they are exempt provided the vehicle was originally made without seatbelts. It should be noted that in these classic vehicles, drivers cannot transport any children under 3 years old, and children over the age of 3 must legally sit in back seats.

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that all passengers under the age of 14 are wearing their seatbelt during travel or are sitting in an approved car seat. Children under 1.35 metres tall must be secured into a baby seat, child seat, booster seat or booster cushion that is suitable for their current weight.

Can I be legally exempt from wearing a seatbelt?

Aside from traveling in a classic vehicle that wasn’t originally fitted with seatbelts, there are a few other cases that can make people exempt from having to wear a seatbelt.

These include:

  • If you are travelling on a bus that does not have seatbelts fitted
  • If you are medically exempt
  • If you are a delivery driver making deliveries or collecting goods that is less than 50 metres away

As mentioned previously, you can still make a claim if you were involved in a road traffic accident despite not wearing a seatbelt at the time when you were legally required to do so, but the amount of compensation you receive could be affected - especially if it is deemed that the injuries you suffered were likely made worse due to the fact you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Not wearing a seatbelt at the time of suffering your injuries could be classed as contributory negligence.

What is contributory negligence?

Contributory negligence is when a person who is making a claim for personal injury compensation is found to be partly to blame for the accident or injury.

For example, if you are driving your car without wearing a seatbelt and somebody drives into the back of your car, the solicitors of the person who drove into you could use the fact you weren’t wearing a seatbelt to reduce the amount of compensation you receive. Their solicitors could cite that you were partly to blame for the injuries you suffered by not legally protecting yourself with the seatbelt.

How much compensation will I lose if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?

Compensation amounts are based on the circumstances of the accident and the injuries sustained.

There is no fixed deduction lawfully in place that means a set amount is deducted if you suffer a car accident while not wearing a seatbelt, but you can get a rough estimate of the deducted percentage based on historical claims.

If injuries could’ve been clearly avoided if you were wearing a seatbelt, you might expect your compensation claim to be reduced by around 25%.

If wearing a seatbelt would’ve prevented your injuries from being as serious as they were, you might expect your compensation claim to be reduced by around 15%.

If the courts decide that the injuries you sustained would’ve likely been the same regardless of whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not, you might find that your compensation claim isn’t affected at all.

Have you been involved in a road traffic accident? Whether you were wearing a seatbelt or not, our personal injury specialists here at Fonseca Law can help you with your claim. We have many years’ experience successfully winning compensation on behalf of many individuals, so you can rest assured your legal case will be in the best hands. Contact us by calling 01495 303124, or e-mail us at, or alternatively feel free to complete our online contact form and we will be in touch.