The Louisiana House has approved legislation that would allow failure to wear seat belts to be entered into evidence when judges assess accident damages, reports The Advocate.
Specifically, the provision in House Bill 51 includes both car and truck drivers as well as all occupants of the vehicles.
Presently, the law states that whether car and truck occupants were wearing seat belts cannot be used when deciding negligence.
If the new legislation passes the state Senate and is ultimately singed into law, it could have a significant financial impact on unrestrained motorists and passengers who get injured in a collision. The bill originally said total damages awarded to those injured would be trimmed by 25% for failure to wear a seat belt, but that provision was removed during House discussion, reports The Advocate.
Louisiana has required the use of seat belts since 1986. However, the rate of usage in The Pelican State is 80% compared to 90% nationally.
The sponsor of the new legislation, Rep. Mike Huval (R-Breaux Bridge), says using seat belts reduces serious injuries in a crash by up to 50%. Failure to comply with seat-belt usage costs employers $5 billion per year, or $48,000 per employee, according to the report.