Everyone knows it’s a good idea to wear seat belts and that it is the law in Massachusetts. New Hampshire law only requires those under 18 to buckle up. But, that does not answer your question.
The issue of whether or not seat belt use can be applied to a civil claim for injuries is entirely different.
In Massachusetts, “Failure to wear a properly fastened safety belt shall not be considered as contributory negligence or used as evidence in any civil action.” This is a statute, MGL c. 90, Sec. 13A.
The same result applies in New Hampshire. But, not by statute. Instead, it was the state Supreme Court that held that evidence of a party’s failure to use a seat belt is inadmissible to show negligence where the nonuse may have contributed to the party’s injuries but was not a cause of the collision itself. The 1993 case of Thibeault v. Campbell is still good law in New Hampshire.
Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.