Most Georgia motorists recognize how state seatbelt laws apply to the driver and adult front seat passenger of a vehicle. The question of whether any other passengers need to be strapped in maybe a bit murkier for some, especially as it pertains to liability or insurance purposes. So, are back seat restraints required in the state of Georgia?
GEORGIA SEAT BELT LAWS
According to Georgia Code O.C.G.A. § 40-8-76.1:
“(B) Each occupant of the front seat of a passenger vehicle shall, while such passenger vehicle is being operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, be restrained by a seat safety belt approved under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208.”
There is no requirement under Georgia state law for adult passengers to wear back seat restraints. However, minors age 8 years and up must wear seat belts wherever they sit:
“(E) 3. Each minor eight years of age or older who is an occupant of a passenger vehicle shall, while such passenger vehicle is being operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, be restrained by a seat safety belt approved under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208. In any case, where a minor passenger eight years of age or older fails to comply with the requirements of this paragraph, the driver of the passenger vehicle shall be guilty of the offense of failure to secure a seat safety belt on a minor and, upon conviction thereof, may be fined not more than $25.00. The court imposing such a fine shall forward a record of the court disposition of the case of failure to secure a seat safety belt on a minor to the Department of Driver Services.”
BACK SEAT RESTRAINTS VS LIABILITY AND INSURANCE COVERAGE
While Georgia law requires that adult passengers buckle up in front seats, and for children to be properly restrained, it also provides that failing to wear a restraint in any seat is not grounds for negligence or adverse consequences to insurance coverage:
“(D) The failure of an occupant of a motor vehicle to wear a seat safety belt in any seat of a motor vehicle which has a seat safety belt or belts shall not be considered evidence of negligence or causation, shall not otherwise be considered by the finder of fact on any question of liability of any person, corporation, or insurer, shall not be any basis for cancellation of coverage or increase in insurance rates, and shall not be evidence used to diminish any recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, occupancy, or operation of a motor vehicle.”
So, if you have been injured in an automobile accident in the Atlanta area, your right to file suit against the responsible party is not jeopardized by your failure to wear a back seat restraint.
Consult with an expert attorney at the Fry | Goehring, which has experience standing up to insurance companies and standing up for the rights of every client throughout the litigation process. Subscribe to our mailing list!