Seatbelt Laws in Cleveland

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), using seat belts reduces the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent. 

Ohio passed its first seat belt law in 1986, which the legislature revised in 1992.  The law requires front seat passengers to wear seat belts when driving on public roads.  Maximum first offense violations result in a $20 fine for front-seat passengers and a $30 fine for drivers.  People exempt from wearing seat belts include the following:

§  Children covered by safety seat and booster seat law

§  Persons with medically certified impairments

§  Mail delivery or newspaper home delivery drivers

§  1966 vehicles without rear seat belts

Ohio car seat requirements for children

Special seat belt laws apply to children, and parents are responsible for ensuring use of the following:

§  Rear-facing child seats for children one year and under 20 pounds

§  Forward-facing child safety seats for children one year and more than 20 pounds

§  Booster seats for children over 40 pounds, under four feet nine inches, and less than eight years old

§  Child safety seats or seat belts for children eight to 15 years old

Full enforcement of the new booster seat law began April 7, 2010, minimum fines are $25, and maximum fines $75.  The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) (http://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/hprr/cpsafe/childbooster.aspx) explains the booster seat law in detail, the purpose behind it, and the way in which it reduces risk of crash injury.

Primary vs. secondary seat belt laws

Ohio is one of 18 states that have secondary seat belt laws, which means an officer may not stop a car based on a seat belt violation alone.  The officer must observe another violation first, such as speeding, as cause for stopping the car.  Once stopped for a speeding violation, the officer can issue both a speeding ticket and a second citation for not wearing a seat belt.

How seat belt violations affect Ohio auto accident cases

Under Ohio comparative negligence law, parties who are more than 50 percent at fault in an accident cannot recover personal injury damages.  Courts reduce accident recoveries based on the plaintiff’s percentage of negligence.  While accident victims can still pursue an auto accident claim if they failed to wear a seat belt, the court may deem that their negligence contributed to their injury and reduce their recovery amount accordingly.

While some injuries logically could have been avoided by wearing a seatbelt (i.e., a broken nose from striking the windshield) other injuries are not so clearly affected by the use or non-use of a seat belt.  In fact, in many cases the injuries sustained in an automobile collision are caused in part by the proper use of a seat belt (i.e., whiplash).  Under Ohio law, the burden is on the defense to establish that the failure to wear a seat belt was a factor to be considered when determining the proximate cause of an injury.  This can often be refuted by expert biomechanical testimony.

If you are involved in a car accident where parties were not wearing seat belts, a Cleveland auto accident lawyer can explain your rights and the way negligence law applies to your case.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), using seat belts reduces the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent.  Ohio passed its first seat belt law in 1986, which the legislature revised in 1992.  The law requires front seat passengers to wear seat belts when driving on public roads.  Maximum first offense violations result in a $20 fine for front-seat passengers and a $30 fine for drivers.  People exempt from wearing seat belts include the

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Daniel A. Romaine

Licensed since 1996

Member at firm Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A.

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