Question for the anti-mandatory seat belt crowd

If you don’t support requiring seat belts, would you support a law that holds harmless any person involved in a collision with a person not wearing a seatbelt for bodily damages suffered by the person not wearing a seatbelt except in circumstances where the seatbelt wearing driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Seems to me that if you’re going to not make seat belt use a requirement for the privilege of driving, you should not force another driver, even one who causes a wreck, to pay for the bodily damages suffered by the dumbass.


  1. joe says:

    With a few limits, yes I would. If I am parked and you strike my car while going 60 mph, a good law would not hold you harmless.

  2. stephaniemills21 says:

    I agree with Joe. As a basic idea, I like it, but the law needs to be written in a way that allows for contingencies.

  3. juliobarrios says:

    Perhaps this is something Oxendine needs to weigh in on, but if you choose not to wear a seatbelt then you should pay more insurance – just like a 16 year old boy. Why should everyone else subsidize your free choice to be irresponsible?

  4. Burdell says:

    There could be a number of injuries suffered by seatbelt- and non-seatbelt-wearers alike that are solely the result of the other person’s negligence. I think they should recover for that.

    But if you get, say, knocked off the road, and fly out of your car and get seriously injured, the party that hit you shouldn’t be liable for injuries due to you being thrown from the car. On the other hand, your failure to wear a seatbelt shouldn’t preclude recovery for any other injuries sustained in the accident.

    Basically, the tort law should treat injuries from not wearing a seatbelt as unforeseeable in establishing causation.

    I think this is what you’re getting at, Erick, and I’d support something like that.

    Seatbelts save lives, but as long as I don’t have to pay for the dead guy’s stupidity, I don’t think the state should force him to buckle up.

  5. Rogue109 says:

    I agree with all three comments above. In Florida, you can choose to not wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle. The trade off is that you pay higher insurance premiums. As health care IS NOT a right, that is a fine deal and leaves all involved satisfied!

    And let me make clear, I always get in the car and use the seatbelt. But that doesn’t mean that I have to impose my will on others. We can all live in SpaceyG Land where those who she disagrees with are banished or we can allow people to make their own choices…and, most importantly, live with the consequences!

    It’s freedom, baby, and it’s groovy!

  6. Erick says:

    Okay, so let’s get working on the exceptions:

    O.C.G.A. § xx-xx-xxx shall state:

    A driver of a motor vehicle who causes a collision with another driver who is not wearing a seatbelt, hereinafter referred to as “the dumbass,” shall not be held liable for bodily damages suffered by the driver who is not wearing a seatbelt except:

    (1) when the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol;

    (2) when the collision occurs in a manner or location when it is reasonable for the dumbass to not have a seatbelt on;

    (3) when the driver loses control of his vehicle due to excessive speed, but in such event the driver will not be liable for the loss of life of the dumbass.

  7. Rogue109 says:


    What’s the point of drafting proposed legislation? The General Assembly would never consider any legislation where freedom was permitted.

    Why even the scope and size of government in the Republicans view must grow and grow each year! Anyone considered CUTTING or freezing the growth of government? Perish the thought! More additions to the OCGA is the answer!

    It is truly amazing that some Senator under the Gold Dome would push his seat belt law while, for yet another year, it is still a misdemeanor to commit a third DUI within a five year period.

  8. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Rogue, I would support making a third and subsequnt DUI a felony without any timeframe if if the BAC was raised a bit. After 2 12 ounce beers I’m legall drunk.

  9. Trackboy1 says:

    Makes no sense ya have to wear a seatbelt in Georgia in any vehicle, except in pickup trucks. What are these pickup/SUV hybrids like the Chevy Avalanche considered…a SUV or pickup? Sure, it made sense when Georgia was an agrarian society. Even now, OK, make it exempt for farms and such. But this is all about Tom Murphy being nostalgic for the days of way back when, and no one at the Gold Dome having the guts & smarts to move to the 21st century. My brother is a police officer and some buddies are too, and they hate accident scenes with pickups, because too many people go through windshields and/or are ejected…and it’s so avoidable.

    This ridiculousness loses the state valuable federal transportation dollars , and I’m sure Gena could use every extra penny these days. And while nostalgia has a place (like at Sonnys proposed state history museum), the 49 other states require seatbelts for pickups.

    At least require seatbelts in pickups for anyone under 18 yrs. old.

    Rogue109, great call on the third DUI insanity. Police officers despise accident scenes with fatalities/severe injuries caused by someone with multiple DUI’s. These moron drivers repeat their behavior time & time again, becoming more fearless and confident of their ability to drive while impaired. After three DUI’s, there should be mandatory jail time and loss of your license for years upon years. Put your shoes on as the police officer/state trooper/sheriff who has to inform a parent their child is gone or paralyzed because of a driver who has had multiple DUI’s. After three DUI’s, buddy you’re going to jail, and get used to taking the bus, ’cause you ain’t driving for the next ten years. You’re a criminal.

    And what’s the status of Ben Harbin’s DUI case?

  10. StevePerkins says:

    What do they teach you guys down there at Mercer Law School, Erick? We already have the doctrine of comparative negligence… providing that if a jury determines that your injury were X-percent your fault due to not wearing a seatbelt, then your recovery is reduced by X-percent. Some states, like Alabama for instance, apply contributory negligence doctrine… such that if you have ANY fault at all, you cannot recover a dime.

    I guess we need statutes to take common-sense out of the hands of “activists” judges and juries, or something.

  11. ramblinwreck says:

    In any discussion of a new law we need to ask WWJD (What would Jefferson, as in Thomas, Do?) When we start passing laws to remove the consequences of the stupid things people do that only affect themselves we’ve slipped into an area that the founding fathers never intended.

    Hold people responsible for any injury they cause others but not for what they do to themselves.

  12. Rogue109 says:

    “After three DUI’s, there should be mandatory jail time and loss of your license for years upon years.”

    Oh, there is mandatory jail time…120 days in custody of which all but 15 days may be suspended.

    Yes, you read that right: the minimum sentence for a 3/5 DUI in Georgia is 15 days in jail.

    If convicted of a 3/5 DUI, you are declared a Habitual Violator and lose your license for five years (but are eligible to get it back in 2 years). The key is that if you are caught driving again (sober or not) while HV, then only THAT is treated as a felony.

    It’s a screwed up system that is out of wack. But we’d rather tell people to wear seat belts and make it a felony if you don’t move over one lane from a police pullover on the side of the road (SB 354, now before the Judiciary Committee in the State Senate).

  13. GOP Girl says:

    I had no idea that it was legal to NOT wear your seatbelt in a truck.

    But hey, you can still ride your motorcycle in SC without a helmet.

  14. Burdell says:

    Erick, I’ll support your proposed language simply because it would get the word “dumbass” into the O.C.G.A.

    Actually, a lot of the O.C.G.A. could be simplified by using that word.

  15. Sarawara says:

    In many states, Georgia included, the fact that a personal injury plaintiff was not wearing their seatbelt in an accident is inadmissible to show comparative negligence. Florida is one of the few states that go the other way and allow the jury to hear about whether the plaintiff was wearing his or her seatbelt.

    Just changing this rule to allow a jury to hear about the comparative fault of the non-seatbelt wearing dumbass would be a great start.

  16. StevePerkins says:

    Hmm… you’re right. Georgia is a comparative negligence state, but O.C.G.A. § 4-8-76.1 creates an exception just for seat belts in traffic accidents. If I had to guess, I would say that was thrown in as a compromise to get the selt belt statute passed at all.

    It seems like a no-brainer to me that this exception should be repealed. If I’m at fault for an accident that would have caused minor injuries, but instead causes major injury because you’re too stupid to wear your seat belt, I should be liable only for the cost of minor injuries.

  17. Joe Fleming says:

    Sarawara: Bingo!

    Completely setting aside the issue of SUVs and trucks …

    … one of the strangest parts of existing Georgia law is that failure to wear your seatbelt CANNOT be allow into evidence in a trial. Cannot be factored in when considering medical or compensatory damages.

    So what may have been a bruise became a severely injured driver who ended up on the pavement or a very serious injury or fatality if another vehicle was involved.

    Who pays for this?

    Not the individual who wasn’t wearing his or her seatbelt. You and me, the insurance companies, the company that is self-insured, the county or city that owned the car.

    Failure to comply with existing law, failure to wear your seatbelt, should be admissible in a court trial.

  18. Joe Fleming says:

    Probably should have added hospitals, since they have to take all injured parties, whether the injured can pay or not. So they, too, are paying for those who aren’t wearing.

    And all these costs get passed on to you and me.

  19. Sarawara says:

    Gotta add the auto manufacturer to the list of “who pays” some of the time as well…

    I defended one of the big 3 in product liability cases related to rollovers of SUVs, and it drove us absolutely crazy when we weren’t allowed to point out that Mr. or Ms. dumbass plaintiff wasn’t wearing his or her seatbelt when he or she was ejected from the vehicle. They could walk into court and say that if the car’s windows had been laminated glass instead of tempered, they wouldn’t have been able to fly through them and hit the pavement…but we were barred from pointing out that wearing their seatbelt would’ve kept them in the vehicle as well. It was intensely frustrating to be hamstrung like that, even though smart jurors can usually figure out that if someone ended up outside the car, they probably weren’t belted.

    My understanding is that most states enacted this exception at the time that seatbelt usage became mandatory, but I’m not really sure what the rationale was. My guess is that a violation of the seatbelt usage statute would constitute negligence per se that would effectively prevent many plaintiffs from collecting in tort suits, even if there was some responsibility on the part of the other driver or manufacturer of their car. And since it’s often quite difficult to separate out what injuries result from the initial accident vs. what would have been preventable only if a seatbelt were worn, the solution was to just make that fact inadmissible. But it’s a dumb solution.

  20. fishtail says:

    A bit off the current blah, please do yourself a favor and check out and see the real story behind the John Lewis robo calls. A lot to come on this brewing scandal. Not to mention the ongoing discussion of my favorite subject, just how corrupt our pie-faced Guv really is. If the truth ever comes out about the crimes of Sonny Perdue, he will be placed so far underground that they will have to pump oxygen to his prison cell.

  21. juliobarrios says:

    “do yourself a favor and check out and see the real story behind the John Lewis robo calls. ”

    I read you’re link, but certainly didn’t see the “real” story. The AJC had far more in-depth coverage on the issue.

  22. Bill Simon says:

    Again, the “trick” is that the expression of free speech, whether political or not, is not a “trick,” but a GUARANTEED right under the US Constitution.

    And, yes, boys and girls, you can be anonymous if you want in your expression of that right.

  23. jsm says:

    Why should someone who causes an accident have the right to have his losses controlled by my seatbelt use? Once again, personal responsibility is thrown aside in the interest of protecting an offender. I, as an adult, should have the right to do whatever I wish, as long as I don’t harm another. If someone harms me, that person should make me whole, no matter the circumstance. Whether or not I choose to restrain myself in a vehicle should not have any effect.

  24. EAVDad says:

    We’d have to have the term “dumbass” defined in O.C.G.A. first. Of course, lord know how the Georgia Society of Dumbasses would react. The Dumbass lobby is very powerful.

  25. Tekneek says:

    Why would you have an exception for those under the influence of some substance? If injuries resulting from choosing to not wear a seatbelt are nobody else’s fault, why would that liability change just because of some drugs or alcohol?

    I believe the only exception should be injuries that can be proven to have resulted solely from not wearing a seat belt. They should have the ability to argue that point in any legal proceeding resulting from the accident. I don’t agree that those who are breaking the law should get a free ride because they were lucky enough to hit somebody who wasn’t wearing a seat belt. If it can be demonstrated that you had a good chance of killing somebody wearing a seat belt, you should still be on the hook for that death.

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