According to data released by the RCMP, in 2019 one in three fatal accidents on Nova Scotia’s roads involved drivers and/or passengers who either did not wear a seat belt, or who wore them improperly. That represents 27% of casualties caused by motor vehicle collisions throughout the province.

As outlined in Nova Scotia’s Motor Vehicle Act, the provincial Seat Belt Regulations requiring all drivers and passengers to wear seat belts when traveling by car have been in place since the early 1980s. We all know that wearing a seat belt is more than a common-sense safety measure. It is a legally mandated, potentially life-saving practice that should be adhered to every time a person travels in a car. However, with thousands of Nova Scotians each year charged with failing to wear a seat belt or wearing one incorrectly, it is clear that proper seat belt use is still a great concern in the province. 

Everyone aged 16 and over is responsible for wearing a seat belt while they are operating or riding in a car in Nova Scotia. Seat belts should be in good working order, and must not be tampered with in any way that decreases their effectiveness. Adult drivers are responsible for ensuring that anyone under the age of 16 is properly wearing their seat belt, and that young children must be in a car-seat suited to their age, height, and weight. 

Seat belts should be worn properly, in accordance with the car manufacturer’s directions. Oftentimes, people buckle their lap belt in place before tucking their shoulder strap behind their back. This incorrect usage of the crucial safety feature could lead to serious injuries or deaths should a collision occur. 

The RCMP has a zero-tolerance policy for both failing to wear a seat belt and for the improper usage of seat belts. Fines for either offence begin at $180 and two demerit points

The best way to ensure that you and your passengers practice proper seat belt safety is to make a habit of wearing one. Fastening your seat belt should be one of the first things you do when you enter a vehicle. Taking a quick second to ensure that all passengers are properly buckled up could save their lives in the event of a collision. If you are driving with stubborn friends or family members, you can always refuse to put the car in gear until everyone is secure. 

If you sustain injuries in a car accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be entitled to pursue damages from the at-fault party. However, if you were not wearing a seat belt during your collision, or were wearing one incorrectly, even if you were not responsible for causing the accident in any way, the amount of damages you may be able to claim could be considerably lower. To discuss the details of your accident with a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer, book a free consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers today.

Can You Recover Accident Benefits if You Were Not Wearing a Seat Belt?

Wearing a seat belt incorrectly or failing to wear one altogether can have dangerous consequences. In a high-impact collision, car accident victims who do not wear seat belts can be catapulted forward into their windshields, forcefully ejected through the vehicle’s doors or windows, knocked unconscious and trapped in dangerous circumstances, and other horrific scenarios causing serious injuries or fatalities. 

The physical injuries sustained by accident victims who fail to properly wear a seat belt could have a severe impact the rest of their lives. In addition, failing to wear a seat belt could significantly impact the amount of money they are entitled to claim after an accident, even if they were not responsible for causing the collision. 

Failing to wear a seat belt properly could be construed as “contributory negligence.” In fact in Nova Scotia, if you failed to wear your seatbelt and are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you will automatically be found 25% contributorily negligent. This means that, even though your actions on the road may not have directly caused your collision with another driver, your inaction regarding your own safety was a contributing factor to the injuries you have sustained. 

According to provisions outlined in Nova Scotia’s Insurance Act, if the person injured in a car accident was not wearing a seat belt at the time of their collision, there will be an automatic 25% reduction in benefits and damages they are able to pursue.

Because of this stipulation, if your collision was caused by another driver’s negligence and you were not correctly wearing a seat belt during the accident, the assistance of a Nova Scotia car accident lawyer may be crucial. Given this mandatory reduction in damages and accident benefits available to you, the assistance of a lawyer may be able to help you secure the highest amount of compensation you are eligible for by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If the lawsuit is resolved in their client’s favour, a lawyer may be able to help the injured party recover costs related to the following damages: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Ongoing medical care/in-home care
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Adjusted living expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • And possibly more

Common Injuries from Improper Seat Belt Use

The consequences of failing to properly wear a seat belt can be fatal. Accidents involving drivers or passengers who made the unfortunate decision to neglect their own safety can also lead to serious, life-altering injuries. Some common injuries caused by failing to wear a seat belt include:

  • Facial lacerations
  • Dental injuries
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Bruises and abrasions
  • Whiplash
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Internal organ damage 
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • And more

In addition to the physical and emotional trauma of sustaining an injury in a car accident, people who chose not to wear a seat belt may find themselves strapped with expensive costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation. If their injuries prevent them from performing the duties of their job or returning to the workforce in any capacity, accident victims may be forced to endure financial precarity. An accident victim’s quality of life and their ability to earn a living may be forever impacted, simply because they chose not to wear a seat belt.

Teenage Drivers and Seat Belt Safety 

Car accidents are the leading cause of young people’s deaths across the province of Nova Scotia. Youth between the ages of 15-24 are the age group most frequently hospitalized by injuries sustained in motor vehicle collisions, as well as the age group most frequently sent to the morgue after a car crash. Young men are more likely to be injured or killed in accidents on the road than young women in their age group.

According to Transport Canada, young drivers account for 25% of the country’s injuries and deaths on the road. A failure to wear a seat belt is one of the most common reasons teenagers nationwide get seriously hurt or killed while driving.

Although province-wide educational initiatives are annually programmed in Nova Scotia’s high schools to teach kids about the dangers of poor decision-making behind the wheel, there is still plenty of work to be done to communicate the dangers of failing to wear a seat belt. Indeed, certain transportation safety officials have cited that 50% of the high school students they encounter in Nova Scotia classrooms admit to not wearing seat belts when riding in cars.

Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today

If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver’s negligence, and sustained serious injuries as a result, you may be eligible to recover financial compensation for damages you incurred. To discuss the circumstances of the accident and learn if you’re eligible to pursue damages, contact us today

For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers at 902-405-8282.