What public policy reason would be behind a seatbelt law such as the one described below? More and more state legislatures are enacting mandatory seatbelt laws for drivers of automobiles. Many of...

What public policy reason would be behind a seatbelt law such as the one described below? 

More and more state legislatures are enacting mandatory seatbelt laws for drivers of automobiles. Many of the statutes state that if an occupant of the car (driver or otherwise) is not wearing a seatbelt at the time of an automobile accident, then that occupant may not recover civil damages from the party who caused or created the accident.

Asked on by egordon6

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are at least two public policy reasons behind such a law.  

First, there is the desire to encourage people to wear seat belts.  This is important because it cuts down on the number of injuries and deaths that can occur as the result of car crashes.  Society has an interest in doing this.

Second, there is the desire to be fair to the people who cause the accidents.  In a civil case, it is not equitable to hold someone liable for damages that are not their fault.  If Person A causes a crash and Person B is involved and is not wearing a seatbelt, Person B's injuries are at least partly their fault.  If they had been wearing a seat belt, A's actions would not have caused such severe damage.  Therefore, it is equitable to excuse Person A from at least some of the liability for Person B's injuries.

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