Maryland Seat Belt Law
§ 22-412.3. Seat Belt Requirements
(a)(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2)(i) “Motor vehicle” means a vehicle that is:
1. Registered or capable of being registered in this State as a Class A (passenger), Class E (truck), Class F (tractor), Class M (multipurpose), or Class P (passenger bus) vehicle; and
2. Required to be equipped with seat belts under federal motor vehicle safety standards contained in the Code of Federal Regulations.
(ii) “Motor vehicle” does not include a Class L (historic) vehicle.
(3) “Outboard front seat” means a front seat position that is adjacent to a door of a motor vehicle.
(4)(i) “Seat belt” means a restraining device described under § 22-412 of this subtitle.
(ii) “Seat belt” includes a combination seat belt-shoulder harness.
Seat belt or child safety seat requirements
(b) A person may not operate a motor vehicle unless the person and each occupant under 16 years old are restrained by a seat belt or a child safety seat as provided in § 22-412.2 of this subtitle.
Passengers in outboard front seat of motor vehicle
(c)(1) The provisions of this subsection apply to a person who is at least 16 years old.
(2) Unless a person is restrained by a seat belt, the person may not be a passenger in an outboard front seat of a motor vehicle.
(3)(i) Unless a person is restrained by a seat belt, the person may not be a passenger in a rear seat of a motor vehicle.
(ii) A police officer may enforce this paragraph only as a secondary action when the police officer detains a driver of a motor vehicle for a suspected violation of another provision of the Code.
Certification for exception to seat belt requirements for medical reasons
(d) If a physician licensed to practice medicine in this State determines and certifies in writing that use of a seat belt by a person would prevent appropriate restraint due to a person's physical disability or other medical reason, the provisions of this section do not apply to the person.
Contents of certification
(e) A certification under subsection (d) of this section shall state:
(1) The nature of the physical disability; and
(2) The reason that restraint by a seat belt is inappropriate.
Application of section to U.S. Postal Service and contract carriers
(f) The provisions of this section do not apply to U.S. Postal Service and contract carriers while delivering mail to local box routes.
Violation of section not moving violation
(g) A violation of this section is not considered a moving violation for purposes of § 16-402 of this article.
Failure to use seat belt not considered negligence
(h)(1) Failure of an individual to use a seat belt in violation of this section may not:
(i) Be considered evidence of negligence;
(ii) Be considered evidence of contributory negligence;
(iii) Limit liability of a party or an insurer; or
(iv) Diminish recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle.
(2) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (3) of this subsection, a party, witness, or counsel may not make reference to a seat belt during a trial of a civil action that involves property damage, personal injury, or death if the damage, injury, or death is not related to the design, manufacture, installation, supplying, or repair of a seat belt.
(3)(i) Nothing contained in this subsection may be construed to prohibit the right of a person to institute a civil action for damages against a dealer, manufacturer, distributor, factory branch, or other appropriate entity arising out of an incident that involves a defectively installed or defectively operating seat belt.
(ii) In a civil action in which 2 or more parties are named as joint tort-feasors, interpleaded as defendants, or impleaded as defendants, and 1 of the joint tort-feasors or defendants is not involved in the design, manufacture, installation, supplying, or repair of a seat belt, a court shall order separate trials to accomplish the ends of justice on a motion of any party.
Prevention and education programs
(i) The Administration and the Department of State Police shall establish prevention and education programs to encourage compliance with the provisions of this section.
Annual evaluation report on State’s highway safety plan
(j) The Administration shall include information on this State's experience with the provisions of this section in the annual evaluation report on the State's highway safety plan that this State submits to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration under 23 U.S.C. § 402.
Fines and penalties
(k) Any person convicted of a violation of this section is subject to a fine of not more than $50.
How Does Not Wearing a Seat Belt Impact My Injury Claim?
The bolded language above asks the question many car crash victims have: will it be held against you that you were not wearing a seat belt?
The answer is no. It is not admissible or relevant at trial that you did not have a seat belt on during the accident.
So the insurance company's lawyer cannot stand up in front of a jury and argue that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a seat belt because the failure to wear a belt if not contributory negligence as a matter of law in Maryland. (Still, setting aside your lawsuit, everyone should be buckling up and not buckling up is a misdemeanor crime in Maryland. And not wearing a seat belt is just plain stupid. So buckle up in the future.)
There are states where not wearing a seat belt can be used against you. While it is a mistake to ever get in a car without a seat belt, it is also a mistake to assume every injury can be mitigated with a seat belt.
There is also no question that seat belts also cause injuries while protecting you. Studies suggest that seat belt use does not do a better job of protecting you from lung, liver, spleen, pelvis, or lower extremity injuries. In particular, seat belts may not help prevent injuries in lateral impact accidents. That said, let their be no confusion. You are always safer wearing a seat belt.
Maryland's seat belt law requires adult front seat occupants to wear a seat belt. Obviously, there are also laws requiring children to wear safety belts.
Now, police officers may ticket drivers and/or adult front seat passengers for not wearing a seat belt as a primary offense as opposed to ticking them only when another law is suspected of being broken.
- Failing to Wear a Seat Belt: Does it have an impact on your Maryland accident claim? No.
- Maryland Booster Seat Law
- Maryland Transportation Code Annotated § 22-412.2 (child seat law)
- Children Injuries in Car Accidents (government study)
- Seat belt injury stories and their settlements and verdicts