Louisiana Auto Accidents: Seat Belt Law Changed

March 30, 2022 General

Louisiana Auto Accidents: Seat Belt Law Changed

For auto accidents that have occurred since January 1, 2021, there is a new seat belt law here in Louisiana. A new law was passed last year called “Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020.” The new law became effective on January 1, 2021 and applies to Louisiana vehicle accidents after that date. Among other things, the law changed Louisiana’s rules with respect to seat belts. Under the previous law, evidence that a person involved in an auto accident was not wearing a seat belt at the time of accident could not be presented at trial or considered for issues of liability. See former La. Rev. Stat. 32:295.1(e) (“… failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this Section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence.)” That provision has been repealed. The old law will continue to apply to accidents that occurred prior to January 1, 2021.

What Does This Mean?

Louisiana is a “comparative negligence” state. This means that, in defending against liability, a person who is mostly “at fault” for an accident can claim that the victim was partly at fault. If this is proven, then the ultimate amount awarded for damages will be divided based on the percentage of fault. For example, in a two-vehicle accident, if one driver is found to be 90% at-fault and $100,000 in damages are awarded, the at-fault party will pay only 90% of the award ($90,000). As quoted above, under the previous statute, failure to wear a seat belt could not be considered for purposes of comparative negligence. That has now changed.


Basically, advocates of the Civil Justice Reform Act claimed that car insurance rates in Louisiana were too high. That is, insurance claims were too high and reforming the law would help reduce claims, reduce settlements and court awards of compensation. In theory, lower claims-paid would result in lower insurance rates charged to consumers. Advocates for the statute also argued that Louisiana law should be brought more in line with how other states handle the failure to wear a seat belt and that additional incentives were needed to spur Louisiana drivers to “buckle up.”

As it turns out, so far, the new law has not reduced auto insurance rates. As reported here, the Louisiana Insurance Department reports that rates have climbed by an average of 2% this year as of the end of October 2021.

How Will This Impact My Case?

Comparative negligence impacts two issues in an auto accident personal injury case — cause of the accident and cause of injuries. A driver might be partly responsible for the accident itself when, for example, both drivers fail to follow traffic control signals. Likewise, injuries — and the extent of injuries — can have multiple causation. Maybe one driver is totally at fault for the accident. Maybe that driver ran a red light. However, if the victim was not wearing a seat belt, that could be a contributing cause to the injuries. Maybe the victim was ejected from the car and sustained more injuries than if the victim had not been ejected. As such, injuries from the ejection might be caused by the failure to wear a seat belt. As such, a victim not wearing a seat belt could be deemed partially at fault for the extent of the injuries. In that circumstance, the victim would be given a higher percentage of fault and, thus, be entitled to a lower amount of damages.

Our Attorneys Can Help 

For more information, contact the Louisiana personal injury lawyers at Mansfield, Melancon, Cranmer & Dick LLC. We have a proven track record of success handling many types of Louisiana personal injury cases including car accidents, boating accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability accidents, and cases involving nursing care facility abuse/neglect. Contact us by calling one of our offices: New Orleans at (504) 500-1108, Baton Rouge at (225) 612-0800, or Lafayette at (337) 409-0003. You can also request a free consultation by using our “Contact Us” page.