Buckle Up, Buttercup: Missouri Governor Signs Law Enhancing Failure to Wear Seatbelt Defense

Laura Gerdes Long

By Laura Gerdes Long

Co-authored by Laura Gerdes Long & Katherine M. Flett

Failure to wear a seatbelt will be admissible in product liability cases in Missouri beginning January 1, 2020. Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 30 into law on July 10, 2019, amending Section 307.178 RSMo to provide that a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt shall be admissible as evidence of comparative negligence or fault, causation, absence of a defect or hazard, and failure to mitigate damages in product liability lawsuits involving an automobile.  Previously, such evidence was only allowed to be admitted before the jury to mitigate damages up to 1% of the damages after any reductions for comparative negligence.

Dan Hegeman, the bill’s sponsor, said that Senate Bill 30 “serves the dual purpose of both creating fairer court procedures in which a jury is able to come to a broader understanding of the causes of a plaintiff’s injuries, and encouraging general seat belt safety.”

The amended law becomes effective on January 1, 2020.

Click here to read the full text of the new law.

Posted by Attorneys Laura Gerdes Long and Katherine M. Flett. Long practices in tort, insurance defense, legal malpractice, health care, and employment law. Well-versed in employment law policies and processes related to HIPAA, she serves as a trainer and advisor to health care providers, insurers, self-insured employers, and municipalities. Flett is a member of the litigation team focusing on assisting clients with matters relating to business, civil, and commercial litigation.


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