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The Legal Effect of Not Wearing a Seatbelt

A Florida court recently addressed this interesting question.


• A Florida court addressed the interesting question of the legal effect of not wearing a seat belt. A woman was injured when she was struck by a church-owned vehicle that was being driven in a negligent manner. The woman sued the church, and a jury found the church negligent, assessing damages at $300,000. However, the jury also found that 80% of the woman's injuries were attributable to her failure to wear a seat belt, and accordingly her damages were reduced by 80% (or $240,000) to a total of $60,000. At the trial, the church established that the woman's car had a seat belt. The woman herself testified that she was thankful not to have worn the belt because of her belief that a seat belt would have caused additional injuries. The woman appealed, and a state appeals court ordered the church to pay the full verdict of $300,000 on the ground that it had failed to prove that the seat ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 1, 1991

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