Wearing a seat belt dramatically decreases your risk of serious injuries in an automobile accident. For this reason, most states, including Connecticut, have implemented seat belt laws requiring drivers and their passengers to buckle up. Understanding Connecticut’s seat belt laws is important for keeping yourself and your family safe.
A new law, known as Public Act No. 21-175, requires all motor vehicle passengers to use seat belts, even in the back seat. Previous law only required passengers sitting in the front seat and children in the back seat of a motor vehicle to use seat belts. Now adult passengers (16 and older) sitting in the rear of a vehicle in Connecticut must also buckle up.
This law uses secondary enforcement, meaning that a law enforcement officer must have a different primary reason – such as speeding or running a red light – to conduct the traffic stop before he or she can ticket someone for not wearing a seat belt. The fine for failing to wear a seat belt in accordance with Connecticut’s laws is $92. The new law is in effect as of October 1, 2021.
Children are at a high risk of injury in motor vehicle accidents. They are more susceptible to serious and fatal injuries than adult passengers. For this reason, all 50 states require drivers to ensure that child passengers are properly strapped into car seats or booster seats. It has always been the law in Connecticut to buckle child passengers into the correct safety seats and systems in a motor vehicle. The appropriate type of seat for a child passenger depends on his or her age and weight:
Failing to use a child safety seat in Connecticut will result in a fine and mandatory two-hour educational car seat class. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine which car seat is right for your child. If you need assistance properly installing or using your car seat, there are about 75 stations in Connecticut that you can visit to have your car seat installed by a Child Passenger Safety Technician for free.
If you or your child was not wearing a seat belt in accordance with Connecticut’s seat belt laws during a car accident, this does not affect your ability to recover financial compensation for your injuries. According to Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-100a(c)(3), failing to wear a safety belt is not considered contributory negligence or admissible evidence in a civil action. This means you still have the right to file a claim or lawsuit against the other driver for causing your car accident, even if you weren’t wearing a seat belt.
Failing to wear a seat belt does not take away the other driver’s negligence or responsibility for the crash. The other driver will still be financially responsible for the full extent of your medical bills and losses, even if you were breaking Connecticut’s law by driving without a seat belt. If you run into challenges during the financial recovery process, a Stratford car accident lawyer can help you fight for the results that you deserve.