Bethesda, MD asked in Wrongful Death for Maryland

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?

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3 Lawyer Answers
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
Answered
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

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.

Robert D. Kreisman
Robert D. Kreisman
PREMIUM
Answered

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.

Peter N. Munsing
Peter N. Munsing
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Wyomissing, PA
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Yes. Further, there may be a "crashworthiness" case. If you need the names of attorneys I can give you some if you call me.

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