Colorado’s seatbelt law is codified at C.R.S. § 42-4-237. Colorado’s seatbelt statute requires all front seat occupants of motor vehicles to be restrained while the vehicle is in operation. C.R.S. § 42-4-237(1) & (2). The seatbelt law creates an affirmative defense to any claim for pain and suffering damages caused by a failure to wear a seatbelt. C.R.S. § 42-4-237(7). The statute provides that a seatbelt is must be worn only when a vehicle is “being operated on a street or highway.” C.R.S. § 42-4-237(2). The Colorado Court of Appeals held that the seatbelt defense does not to apply to a plaintiff who was sleeping in the front seat of a parked truck even though the motor was running. Jackson v. Moore, 883 P.2d 622 (Colo. App. 1994). A plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt does not constitute comparative negligence, it only mitigates pain and suffering damages. See Fischer v. Moore, 517 P.2d 458 (Colo. 1973).
In sum, a plaintiff who seeks recovery from injuries suffered in an auto accident, and who has violated C.R.S. 42-4-237, is subject to the defense that the plaintiff did not mitigate his or her damages for pain and suffering. The defense does not apply to other non-economic damages, so damages for emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life and inconvenience are recoverable despite the seat belt defense. Equally important, the defense does not bar recovery for economic losses, such as loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, loss of capacity to perform household duties, or future medical expenses. Pringle v. Valdez, 171 P.3d 624 (Colo. 2007). However, the seatbelt defense can vitiate the viability of prosecuting a claim for a plaintiff who has primarily pain and suffering damages.
If you have been injured in a auto accident and need to speak to a lawyer, contact Denver Personal Injury Attorney Gregory A. Hall http://adenverpersonalinjurylawyer.com/
The information on this blog or website is not legal advice. Contact Mr. Hall to set up an appointment to evaluate your case.
A Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer
3570 E. 12th Avenue, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80206