In recent posts, the importance of safety belt use was discussed. At Abrams Landau, we have seen horrific injuries from car crashes where seat belts were not used. However, despite the common knowledge that safety belts can save lives and reduce injury, Virginia law precludes any mention of a person’s failure to wear a seat belt, either as evidence of negligence or to mitigate damages. (see Virginia Code section § 46.2-1094(D)). Such failure to wear a seat belt is not admissible in evidence and cannot be the subject of comment by defense counsel at trial. Members of the Landau Law Shop has seen insurance defense lawyers try to get this inadmissible evidence before the jury in cases being tried by inexperienced lawyers (who nevertheless advertise that they are "injury specialists") in Virginia personal injury cases.
In light of this law, for our Virginia car crash injury trials, we usually seek a ruling by the Court excluding mention of the fact that the injured Plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. We seek this ruling in advance of trial, so that our client knows that the seat belt issue will not come up at trial and the jury can focus on the defendant driver’s wrongdoing and the harms and losses caused by their negligence in operating their vehicle. An experienced trial lawyer, one who actually goes to court on behalf of injured victims on a regular basis, will know the best ways to present evidence of all that has been taken from the plaintiff by the defendants wrongful conduct.