Under Mississippi’s current seat belt laws, drivers, front-seat passengers, and children under seven years of age who are not required to use a child seat or restraint system, must wear a properly fastened seat belt when riding in a passenger motor vehicle on a public road, street, or highway in Mississippi. Miss. Code Ann. section 63-2-1. Based on this law, most back seat passengers in our state are not currently required to wear a seat belt. However, this is about to change as Governor Phil Bryant recently signed Senate Bill 2724 into law making it mandatory for back seat passengers to also buckle up.
Senate Bill 2742 is affectionately known as “Harlie’s Law”, named for 15-year-old Harlie Oswalt who tragically died in a car crash last November. Harlie was in the back seat at the time of the accident and was not wearing a seat belt. Mississippi lawmakers hope to cut down on similar tragedies in the future by requiring all passengers to wear a proper restraint while in a moving passenger vehicle. According to MPB Online, 28 states already require back seat passengers to wear seat belts.
Seat Belts and Personal Injury Liability
Individuals injured in car accidents often mistakenly believe that if they were violating a seat belt law at the time of the accident that they are not eligible to receive compensation for their injuries. In Mississippi, this is simply not the case. Regardless of whether or not an injured individual was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, under Mississippi law he or she is still allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover damages from the party who negligently injured them. However, if the plaintiff (i.e. the injured party who is suing) was legally required to have been wearing a seat belt at the time and failed to do so, this fact may reduce the amount of compensation that the plaintiff will receive if their case is successful as Mississippi follows a pure comparative fault theory of negligence.
States, such as Mississippi, who embrace a comparative fault theory of negligence allow personal injury plaintiffs to recover damages even if the plaintiff was partially at fault for causing their own injury. For example, if Driver A was drunk when he crashed into Driver B, under a comparative fault theory of negligence Driver B can still successfully pursue a personal injury claim even if he was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Need Legal Advice?
Anyone who has been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence should be aware that they may have a viable personal injury claim on their hands, regardless of whether or not they were wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. If you would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced Jackson car accident attorney contact Derek L. Hall, PC at (601) 768-8302 today. One of our knowledgeable attorneys would be happy to meet with you during a free initial consultation.