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A female passenger refuses to wear a seat belt in my car claiming it is to tight. She is a very heavy woman.

Pascoag, RI |

She is going to ask Dr. for a note saying she doesn't need to wear a belt. My question is am I responsible as a driver if we have an accident and she is injured.

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Attorney answers 5


There are extenders for seat belts. I have not see a case where a doctors note can excuse violation of the seatbelt law. Anyone can sue anyone for anything, and while you might win a lawsuit, it could be expensive. A quick Google of "seat belt extender" turned up many devices. You can show one to a mechanic to be sure it is the right one. Otherwise, do not carry this passenger.

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I am not familar with any state that has an exception to its seat belt laws for the reason stated. She can get a seat belt extension if need be. Otherwise, I would 1) insist she wear the seatbelt 2) not drive her.

This response is not intended to act as legal advice. I am not licensed to practice law in any state other than the State of Illinois. No attorney-client relationship is formed until you sign an attorney-client agreement with my office.


Get an extender for the belt -- if something happens to this woman on your watch, it is unlikely she's going to let you off the hook for inuries!!

Good luck with it.

In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.


As they other attorneys have stated, I don't believe there is an exception to the seat belt law for the reasons asserted by this person. Moreover, even if there was her failure to wear a seat belt could result in greater injury to her. If that occurred while you were at fault, the increased liability due to the more severe injuries might become your responsibility.

Requiring her to wear a seat belt extender in your car makes the most sense for you.


If your negligence causes an accident in which she is damaged, she will be able to sue you for your negligence. Depending upon the state where this may occur, her failure to use a seat belt may lessen her damage claim against you. in many states it would not. If I were you, I would tell her that you are not moving the car until she is belted up and remains belted while you are driving.

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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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