Q: Is it possible for a plaintiff to win a wrongful death suit for a car accident case
if the deceased was not wearing a seat belt?
A: A defendant may not defend a personal injury or wrongful death suit on the basis that the injured party was not wearing a seat belt, and failure to wear a seat belt is not evidence of contributory negligence or assumption of the risk. So, yes, absolutely the claim remains viable notwithstanding the seat belt being on or off. It is simply an irrelevant issue. A wrongful death suit must include or join in all eligible claimants identified under the wrongful death statute (spouse, children, etc.), and must be coordinated with any estate claim for survivor's benefits. Therefore, do not attempt this without an experienced personal injury attorney.
A: Yes. This is an often a contentious issue that the lawyers will grapple with because of that fact, no seat belt, would there be proof supported by an expert witness, that but for the absence of the seat belt, the person who died would have survived? The issue of whether or not a seat belt was in place is not relevant. How that would unfold is dependent on your state and local jurisdiction and its law in this area. But, in most jurisdictions, seat belt use or not, is not admissible evidence.
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