Can I Claim Compensation For A Car Accident If Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

By Jo Jeffries. Last Updated 19th September 2023. Welcome to our guide, which looks to answer the question, “Can I claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt?”. If you’re injured in a car accident but were not wearing a seatbelt, you might think it impossible to make car accident claims. However, there are situations when you may drive without wearing a seatbelt. Here, we answer questions such as ‘when may you drive without wearing your seatbelt?’ and ‘If you’re legally not wearing a seatbelt, can you make car accident claims?’

In this guide, we’ll explain when a claim might be possible if the injured party wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Adding to this, we will explain how any compensation might be affected and whether a No Win No Fee personal injury solicitor can help you claim.

accident without seatbelt

Seatbelt accident claim

The takeaway point here is that you shouldn’t write off your chances of being compensated. While it is the law that seatbelts are worn in most circumstances, you could still be eligible for some compensation if another road user caused your accident, even when you neglected to wear a seatbelt.

Here at Accident Claims UK, we have a team of specialist advisors. They are happy to provide free advice, and they’ll also assess your claim for free. If they believe you’ve got a case for being compensated, they could introduce you to a personal injury lawyer who could help you claim. Therefore, if you’re ready to begin your claim right away, please call 0800 073 8801 today.

If you’d like to know more about how you could claim compensation for road traffic accidents, please continue reading.

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A Guide To Car Accident Claims If Not Wearing A Seatbelt

So, you’re wondering, “can I claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt?” In normal circumstances, you could make a personal injury claim if:

  • You were involved in a road traffic accident;
  • Caused by somebody who owed you a duty of care;
  • And that person was negligent.

However, if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, they could argue that you were to blame for your injuries even though they caused the accident to happen. It seems like a fair point, but compensation could still be payable if it can be shown that the injuries wouldn’t have been prevented had you worn the seatbelt, or they would’ve happened but not have been as severe. The technical term for this is contributory negligence which we’ll explain later in this guide.

We’ll also cover what type of injuries can be sustained in a car accident with no seatbelt, UK seat belt law, how much compensation you could be entitled to and how our solicitors could help you claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

How this guide can help

Some of the questions we’ll try to answer in this guide include:

  • Does not wearing a seatbelt affect insurance claims?
  • Can I claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?
  • What if I have a medical exemption?
  • Is driving without a seatbelt contributory negligence?
  • When did it become law to wear a seatbelt in the UK?
  • Do you have to wear a seatbelt in the backseat UK?
  • How could medical experts evidence help my case
  • Who is responsible for wearing a seatbelt?

In all honesty, cases of this nature can be particularly hard and complex cases to win. However, our solicitors have years of experience in personal injury claims and understand what’s required to claim compensation successfully.

When you’ve finished reading this guide, if you’re unsure whether you could be eligible to claim, please get in touch with an advisor for free advice on your options.

What Injuries Could Be Caused By Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

If you aren’t wearing a seatbelt when a car accident happens, three things will happen. First of all, the vehicle will collide with something else, then you’ll collide with some part of your car (such as the windscreen, dashboard or headrest), and finally, your internal organs will collide with the bones in your body.

It is the last two collisions that’ll usually cause the most damage. Had you been restrained by a seat belt, it’s much less likely that you’ll have an impact with the car, and internal damage could be much less serious.

The most common damage caused when a driver or passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt are injuries to the head, chest and abdomen when the collision is head-on. Collisions from behind usually result in spine injuries, as well as head, chest and neck injuries.

The consequences of not wearing a seatbelt can be extreme, as more serious injuries could include a traumatic brain injury that results in impaired function.

Why Is It Important To Wear A Seatbelt?

The main purpose is to reduce the risk of injury to drivers or passengers when a collision occurs. In a nutshell, wearing a seatbelt could save your life. The seatbelt, when worn, does two things in the event of a crash:

  1. It stops you from being thrown forward (and possibly out of the vehicle).
  2. It also prevents you from being shaken and thus reduces the risk of internal injuries.

When a 30-mph collision occurs, some tests suggest that if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you’ll travel forwards with force up to 60 times your own body weight. You can imagine the devastating effects of these circumstances.

While a seatbelt won’t prevent all injuries during a collision and can contribute to some injuries such as whiplash, they will prevent more severe injuries from preventing your body from colliding with the structure of your vehicle. This is worth being aware of as you think, “can I claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt?”

What Responsibility Does A Driver Have To Ensure Passengers Wear A Seatbelt?

The driver of a vehicle has responsibility for themselves and any passenger who is under 14-years old. Therefore, if a young passenger isn’t wearing a seatbelt when an accident occurs, the driver could be held liable for any injuries that the child sustains.

Passengers over 14-years old who fail to wear a seatbelt wouldn’t be able to sue the driver for injuries suffered in an accident because they are responsible for themselves.

Seatbelts And The Law In The UK

By law, a seatbelt must be worn in most circumstances if one is fitted to your seat. It has been the law in the UK since 1983. As mentioned in the last section, the law places a responsibility on the driver to ensure passengers under the age of 14 wear their seatbelt no matter if they’re in the front or back seats of the vehicle.

The only circumstances where you don’t have to wear a seatbelt are:

  • When driving a goods vehicle making deliveries where there are less than 50 meters between stops.
  • If you’re a driver reversing your vehicle.
  • If you’re a licenced taxi driver carrying passengers or plying for hire.
  • When you’re travelling in a police, fire or rescue vehicle.

What Is Contributory Negligence In Car Accident Cases?

When you consider a car crash and the injuries sustained, there are two cases for contributory negligence which could be assessed:

  • Was the accident caused by the other driver, and would the injuries not have happened had they not been negligent?
  • Would the injuries have been prevented if the claimant had worn their seatbelt?

The level of contributory negligence might be settled between solicitors and insurers, or it might require court action to help settle the matter. Therefore, we’ll explain how the amount of contributory negligence is calculated later in this guide.

For more details on how to claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt, as well as information on what could be included in such a claim, please read on.

Can You Claim If You Drive Without Wearing Your Seatbelt?

If it is found that you were partially responsible for your own injuries because you were not wearing a seatbelt, you might still be able to claim. 

For example, if you’re injured as a passenger in which the driver was at fault, but you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, contributory negligence could apply to your car accident claims. This means that your compensation amount could be reduced to reflect your contribution to your own injuries. 

To learn more, get in touch on the number above.

Injuries Which Could Be Caused By Not Wearing A Seatbelt

If you are driving without a seatbelt, you may be at risk of additional injuries to those which you could sustain while wearing one. While you would not be at risk of suffering injuries caused by a seatbelt, which can be minor, you run the risk of suffering more serious and catastrophic injuries.

Firstly, there could be a collision with your car and something else. If you’re not wearing a belt, you could hit yourself on part of the inside of the car (e.g. windshield, headrest, dashboard). You could also be thrown through the windshield if the force is significant enough, running the risk of broken bones, brain and spinal damage, as well as damage to your organs. 

In the worst cases, those who choose not to wear a seatbelt could lose their life in a car accident.

If you are wearing a seatbelt, there’s much less chance of you hitting the inside of the car. This could lower the risk of internal injuries, spinal damage and head injuries, for example.

How Do Solicitors Judge Liability If You Were Not Wearing A Seatbelt?

When you’re involved in a car accident where you did not wear a seatbelt, solicitors will need to work out who was liable. In fact, there are usually two forms of liability in these types of accidents. First of all, the driver who caused the collision will be assessed to see if they were liable because of their negligence.

Then, you, as the claimant, will be found partly liable for your injuries because you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. To be clear, this does not mean you are liable for the accident.

Finally, once liability has been established, compensation will be calculated, and it might be reduced if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt caused your injuries to be worse than they would’ve been. We’ll explain these calculations later on in this guide.

Accident Without Seatbelt – Am I Eligible To Claim?

Not everyone who is not wearing a seatbelt would be eligible to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident. 

The criteria for claiming compensation for an accident without a seatbelt generally involves:

  • Proving that an accident happened
  • Establishing that the accident occurred because someone breached a duty of care towards you as another road user or someone responsible for ensuring the road was safe to use
  • Proving that your injuries were caused by the accident
  • Launching your claim before the personal injury claims time limit that applies to your case. Under the Limitation Act 1980, this is usually three years from the accident date. There are, however, some exceptions to this that could apply to child accident claims, or claims for those lacking mental capacity. You can speak to an advisor about this. 

Various pieces of evidence could assist with this. Some examples could include CCTV footage of the accident, witness statements, medical reports and a police report, for example. It could also be useful to provide evidence pertaining to any seatbelt exemptions that apply to your case. This could prove that you were wearing no seatbelt because you were exempt. 

If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, without an exemption applying, but someone caused an accident that you were injured in, an advisor could still help you. In some cases, you may still be able to claim compensation. However, your compensation could be reduced to reflect your contribution to your injuries. If you would like to find out more about contributory negligence, an advisor could explain this in further detail.

Claims Calculator For Injuries Caused By Not Wearing A Seatbelt

We’re often asked how much compensation can be awarded following a car accident, but, in reality, it’s difficult to say without first assessing how the injuries have affected you. However, to help you understand the amounts of compensation possible for some injuries, we’ve included the personal injury claims calculator table below.

Compensation table

Type of Injury Severity Range Comments
Arms Loss of both (a) £240,790 to £300,000 Compensation in this range covers complete loss of both arms which results in a state of consisderable helplessness.
Arms Moderate (c) Up to £12,590 Compensation in this range covers elbow fractures, lacerations and other simple fractures.
Legs Loss of both (a)(i) £240,790 to £282,010 Where both legs are lost above the knee.
Legs Severe (b) (i) £96,250 to £135,920 Compensation in this range covers injuries that don’t result in an amputation but injuries are so significant that the effect is the same.
Neck Severe (a) (i) In the region of £148,330 Compensation in this range covers severe neck injuries that result in incomplete paraplegia or those where no movement in the neck is possible after wearing a collar all day for a number of years.
Neck Moderate (b) (i) £24,990 to £38,490 Compensation in this range covers disclocations and fractures in the neck where symptoms are severe and could lead to spinal fusion.
Neck Minor (c) (i) £4,350 to £7,890 Compensation in this range covers soft tissue type injuries (such as whiplash) where full recovery occurs within 2 years.
Back Severe (a) (i) £91,090 to £160,980 Compensation in this range covers the spinal injuries that cause incomplete paralysis and result in impaired bowel, bladder or sexual function.
Back Moderate (b) (i) £27,760 to £38,780 Compensation in this range covers fractures (compression or crush) and a traumatic spondylolisthesis causing severe pain and that results in the need for spinal fusion.
Shoulder Severe (a) £19,200 to £48,030 Compensation in this range covers injuries involving damage to the brachial plexus and resulting in a significant disability.
Shoulder Minor (d) (i) £4,350 to £7,890 Compensation in this range covers soft tissue damage which fully recovers between 1 and 2 years.
Foot Moderate (f) £13,740 to £26,590 Compensation in this range covers injuries that result in the risk of long-term oesteoarthritis.
Foot Modest (g) Up to £13,740 Compensation in this range covers puncture wounds, ruptured ligaments and simple metarsal fractures.
Hand Moderate (h) £5,720 to £13,280 Compensation in this range covers deep lacerations, crush injuries and penetrating wounds.

Getting personalised advice

It’s worth remembering that the figures listed are where a third party was 100% responsible for your injuries. If you did not wear your seatbelt and, in turn, have contributed to your injuries, then your compensation amount will be reduced accordingly.

Therefore, if you choose to use the solicitor’s services, they will use your medical evidence to ensure that your seat belt injury is graded correctly. Failure to do so could mean that you don’t receive the correct level of compensation.

What evidence can help with injury claims where a seatbelt wasn’t used?

For any road traffic accident, evidence will be required to prove liability. As with any RTA, you should ask the other driver for their details and make a note of their vehicle’s registration number. Importantly, you should not admit fault for the accident or highlight the fact you weren’t using a seatbelt.

After that, you should try to show the position of the vehicles using photographs after the accident occurred. Ideally, you’ll do this before any vehicles are moved. Dashcam footage can also be really helpful evidence in traffic accident claims. Therefore, try to obtain any from witnesses if possible.

Additionally, if you suffer an injury in an RTA, regardless of whether you wore a seatbelt or not, you should seek medical attention. If your injuries are assessed at a hospital, you can obtain copies of your medical notes later. These can help to show the injuries you sustained and what treatment was required.

How These Damages Are Calculated?

Since a court case in 1976, Froom v Butcher, where a judge reduced compensation by 25% because the claimant was not wearing a seatbelt, the rules around contributory negligence, in general,  work as follows:

  • If an injury would have been prevented by a seat belt being worn, the claimant is found to be 25% contributorily negligent. Compensation is therefore reduced by that percentage.
  • Where an injury would’ve been significantly less severe had a belt been worn, the claimant will lose 15% of their compensation amount.
  • If it is deemed that the injury would not have been prevented by a seatbelt being worn, then the claimant is not found to have contributed, and the compensation awarded is not reduced.

Therefore, once compensation has been calculated, if you were deemed to have been negligent too, then the amount paid is reduced by your contributory negligent percentage. Keep this in mind when wondering whether you can claim compensation if for injuries where a seatbelt wasn’t worn.

Other Types Of Compensation You Could Claim

When you claim injuries in a car crash where no seat belt was worn, your solicitor can use several different heads of claim to ensure you’re compensated properly. Some of the losses that can be claimed include:

  • General Damages – These are the figures shown in the previous section. They cover pain, suffering, and loss of amenity.
  • Care Costs – Should you need a carer to help you recover from your injuries, then you could claim the costs back as part of your claim.
  • Medical Costs – The cost of prescription medicines and other treatments can soon build up during a claim. Therefore, you can ask for these costs to be paid back.
  • Travelling Expenses – When you’re unable to drive because of your injuries, you might be able to claim back the cost of any alternative travel arrangements you have to make.
  • Lost Income – An expensive part of your recovery can be losing your salary due to medical appointments or other time off from work. Therefore, you could claim this loss back. Also, if you are going to be affected in the long-term, you could claim for future lost earnings too.
  • Personal Property Damage – Finally, any damage to personal property during your accident could mean you’re entitled to claim the cost of replacing the damaged item.

We recommend that you keep hold of any receipts and wage slips that help prove your losses. Also, should you be worried that you might not be able to claim for something, check with your solicitor before committing to the expense.

No Win No Fee Claims For Injuries Caused By Not Wearing Seatbelts

We know that you might worry about the cost of making a personal injury claim. We know some people are put off from claiming because of the financial risks. Therefore, our solicitors offer a No Win No Fee service for all claims they handle.

When they agree to take on your claim, you’ll be provided with a No Win No Fee agreement to sign. It’s a really useful document because it tells you, in black and white, that there are no solicitor’s fees to pay unless you receive compensation.

It will also explain that there’s a success fee to pay if you do receive a settlement. This is a fixed percentage of your compensation that’s deducted before you’re paid. Because the success fee is listed in your no win no fee agreement, there are no surprises when a claim is settled. To put your mind at ease, it’s worth noting that legally success fees can’t be higher than 25% of your compensation.

We offer No Win No Fee services to allow more people to claim because the stress and financial risk are reduced.

How We Could Help If You Were Injured In A Car Accident With No Seatbelt

Here are some good reasons why you should use Accident Claims UK to handle your compensation claim:

  • Free advice from our specialist advisors and a no-obligation assessment of your claim.
  • Our team of solicitors have handled personal injury claims for up to 30-years.
  • We have a claim line open 24-hours per day.
  • Our solicitors always try to resolve claims as quickly as possible.
  • They also try to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation that your injuries deserve.
  • Every case our solicitors handle is made on a No Win No Fee basis.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know about our services, please get in touch. And we can advise you on whether you can claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt.

Get Advice On Road Accident Claims

We hope this guide on claiming compensation if not wearing a seatbelt has helped. However, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

They can advise on whether you’re eligible to claim, the process of doing so and the compensation you could be awarded if your claim succeeds.

If you have eligible to claim, they could connect you with a solicitor to represent your claim on a No Win No Fee basis. To get in touch:

Remember, we can help you begin your claim 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. We offer a no-obligation assessment of your claim and free legal advice. Therefore, you’ve got nothing to lose by calling us today.

Claiming compensation if not wearing a seatbelt- FAQs

Do I need to wear a seatbelt? 

The Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993 outlines all the scenarios that people in vehicles are permitted not to wear a seatbelt. Delivery drivers with less than 50m between each stop, taxi drivers, drivers who are reversing, and people travelling in emergency vehicles are exempt from wearing seatbelts.

If you’re a passenger on a bus, coach or minibus where you’re allowed to stand or provide a local service, you don’t need to wear a seatbelt.

exempt from wearing a seatbelt. You should speak to your GP if you think this is the case.

Do I still need to wear a seatbelt when pregnant?

Yes. Although pregnancy might make wearing a seatbelt slightly less comfortable, it’s important for both your safety and the safety of your unborn child that you continue to wear your seatbelt. The diagonal strap should go across your chest and around the side of your bump, with the lap strap as low as possible across your hips. It should be below your belly, not over it.

How much could I receive in compensation if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt? 

The amount of compensation that you could be owed in a claim isn’t easy to pin down, as it’s dependant on a lot of factors. How severe your injuries were, how long they affected you and what kind of expenses you incurred in your recovery will all affect the amount that you’re due. And when you’re claiming for an accident in which you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, your compensation can be reduced by up to 25% if it’s found that your injuries wouldn’t have occurred if you’d been wearing your seatbelt.

Is not wearing a seatbelt contributory negligence?

No, it doesn’t come under the classification of contributory negligence if anyone involved isn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Can you get whiplash without wearing a seatbelt?

Yes, it is still very possible for the victim to suffer whiplash in an accident without wearing a seatbelt.

What is the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt in the UK?

Drivers caught without a seatbelt could be fined £100. But please note that this could go up to £500.

Does driving without a seatbelt affect insurance?

Yes, it is possible that an accident where you didn’t wear a seatbelt could increase your insurance premiums.

What is the seatbelt defence?

This is where the person causing the crash could argue that the victim doesn’t suffer accident injuries had they worn a seatbelt at the time.

How common are car accidents in the UK?

If you’re wondering whether there was any impact of the pandemic on road traffic accident figures, you might be interested to see the statistics below. Over 115,000 people were injured on UK roads in 2020 despite there being four months’ worth of lockdowns. The figures below show the difference from 2019 to 2020 when it comes to different types of road users injured in the UK.

can i claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt statistics graph

Can I claim compensation if not wearing a seat belt without a lawyer?

While it might be possible for you to fight a claim without the use of a personal injury solicitor, it might be more beneficial to consider using one. This is because a solicitor could take on all of the legal paperwork pertaining to your claim, and could build a strong case as possible for compensation for you. We would urge you to select a solicitor but is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England and Wales to practice. You might also want to work with one that could take on your claim on a no wind no fee basis. If you would like us to connect you with the solicitor that could help, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Can I claim compensation if not wearing a seat belt with a lawyer that is not based locally?

It doesn’t matter where in the UK your lawyer is based, since most claims could be handled over digital means such as email and video chats. The location of a solicitor should not really have any bearing on your claim so you could have the whole of the UK’s law firms and solicitors to choose from.

Essential Links Relating To ‘Can I Claim Compensation if Not Wearing A Seatbelt?’

Finally, now that you’ve completed the main part of this guide, we’ve provided some more useful guides, links, and resources below.

Seat Belt Law – All of the information you’ll need, from the UK government, surrounding driver responsibility and seat belt law.

Whiplash Injuries – This guide from the NHS explains what to do if you suffer whiplash. It covers the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options.

Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) – This guide explains when you could claim compensation if you’re involved in a hit and run accident or if the other driver is uninsured.

Road Traffic Accident Claims – In this guide, you’ll find information about more general road traffic accidents that don’t necessarily involve any form of contributory negligence.

Fatal Accident Compensation – If a loved one is fatally injured in a road traffic accident, you might find this guide helpful. It explains the process for claiming on their behalf.

Passenger Accident Claims – If you’re unclear how to claim compensation if you suffer an injury in a car accident as a passenger, then you might find this guide useful.

Victim Support

Here are some organisations that might be able to provide support if you’ve been affected by a road traffic accident.

The RV Trust – A charity that supports those affected by fatal road accidents in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, and Cambridgeshire.

Brake – A safety charity that offers support to injured and bereaved road crash victims.

SCARD (Support And Care After Road Death And Injury) – A charity providing practical and emotional support. This is aimed at those affected by reckless or drunk driving.

Final Words On How To Claim Compensation If Not Wearing A Seatbelt

If you require any further information, please feel free to ask an advisor. You can do this by calling the number at the top of the screen.

Thank you for reading our guide. Finally, we hope it has answered the question “can I claim compensation if not wearing a seatbelt?”.