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Vancouver, Washington

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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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Seat belts

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Both Oregon and Washington require you wear a seat belt while driving or occupying a vehicle. Both states can issue fines if they catch someone violating the law. In Oregon, the law can also be used against you in a civil lawsuit brought for injuries. If you find yourself injured in an auto accident you may have to share some of the blame even if the other driver clearly caused the collision. Consumers injured in rear end accidents while sitting at a stoplight are an example. People hurt when someone ignores a traffic light are another. Even if the driver who caused the accident was intoxicated and driving recklessly, you can still be held partly at fault for the collision for not wearing your seatbelt. Fortunately, Oregon caps your fault at 5%. This means you may have to pay up to 5% of your own damages when injured by another motorist. That means 5% of your medical bills, 5% of your lost income, 5% of your car repairs and 5% of your pain and suffering are all paid by you if this law applies. Washington, although requiring seatbelts, doesn’t make injured consumers responsible for their own damages if belts aren’t worn. You can still be ticketed, but if you’re involved in a collision the fact you weren’t wearing a seatbelt can’t be used against you at trial. You may be partly at fault for causing the collision for some other reason; speeding, intoxication, not paying attention, but failing to wear a seatbelt can’t be raised as a reason you were injured in the collision.