Seat Belt Evidence
Georgia seat belt evidence law is similar to the majority of other state laws in prohibiting the introduction of whether or not a driver or passenger was wearing a seatbelt at the time of a collision. Georgia is similar to thirty (30) other states that exclude seat belt evidence from being considered for either liability issues or for the purpose of minimizing personal injury damages. The exclusion of seat belt evidence is codified in Georgia at O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1. This law has been amended several times to make sure that it covers both front seat passengers as well as rear seat passengers in addition to occupants of pickup trucks.
Outside of Atlanta, the state is very rural with most counties having a large population involved in the farming or dairy business. Many of these farmers carry passengers in the back bed of their pickup trucks. For instance, it is normal to load up the bed of a pickup truck with kids going to the local baseball park for little league practice. Down in the Vidalia onion area of Georgia, many of the farmers will hire several migrant workers and carry them down country roads and out to the fields to harvest onions in the bed of a pickup truck. The farming industry has a strong lobbying group and they have lobbied hard against any attempt to change this seat belt evidentiary law.
The exclusion of seat belt evidence in a car accident personal injury trial is professed on the principal that such evidence would add a whole new issue to each trial and thus lengthen and expand the litigation process. For instance, it would require expert testimony that the personal injuries suffered would have been less severe or eliminated if the injured party had been wearing a seat belt. This would be a whole new gambit regarding a battle of experts at trial. This would require both sides to then invest heavily in expert evidence costs which may make many personal injury claims cost preventative. Therefore, to date, the Georgia legislature has not been presented with any convincing evidence that would warrant opening up this trial within a trial type of seat belt evidence. This prevention of seatbelt evidence has been the law in Georgia since 1988 and has withstood several lobbying attempts to repeal it by the insurance industry.
Many legal issues are raised or develop while a personal injury case is being worked up for settlement, mediation or trial such as questions about seat belt evidence. Therefore, it is very important that an injured victim of a car accident or a trucking accident receive excellent expert advice and counseling from an experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney such as the attorneys at Falanga & Chalker. If you are the victim of someone else’s negligence and have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, then please fill out the contact form on the home page of this web site and expert legal help will be on it’s way from our courteous staff here at Falanga & Chalker. And remember, if you can’t come to us, then we have staff consultants that will come to you.