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Seatbelt defense in American Law of Torts Kim, Ming-Dong Since the mid-1960s and continuing today, the use of the seatbelt defense in tort litigation has been a subject of heated controversy. Depending upon the jurisdiction, the seatbelt defense can be asserted for one or more purposes: (1) to mitigate damages('duty of mitigation'), (2) to prove 'contributory negligence', 'comparative negligence', and 'assumption of risk', (3) to show 'misuse'; (4) to show 'proximate cause' of an injury. The defense should not apply to determination of liability, but only to apportionment of damages.The failure to wear a safety belt shall not be considered evidence of duty of mitigation, should be admitted to establish comparative negligence. Therefore plaintiff's recovery will be reduced only to the extent that his own lack of reasonable care contributed to his injury.It is necessary for us to discuss the seatbelt defenses that are available in a product-liability action.The application of these defenses to modern strict product liability litigation initially raised two sets of issues. First, courts had to determine whether a specific defense was applicable to the various theories of strict products liability. Second, whether the contours of the defenses were the same as in the context of negligence, for example, contributory negligence, comparative negligence, assumption of risk, and misuse.The policies underlying strict liability do not undermine the application of negligence to strict tort liability actions. We conclude that a system of comparative negligence should be applied to strict product liability, if established, will reduce but not bar plaintiff's claim.


Seatbelt defense in American Law of Torts Kim, Ming-Dong Since the mid-1960s and continuing today, the use of the seatbelt defense in tort litigation has been a subject of heated controversy. Depending upon the jurisdiction, the seatbelt defense can be asserted for one or more purposes: (1) to mitigate damages('duty of mitigation'), (2) to prove 'contributory negligence', 'comparative negligence', and 'assumption of risk', (3) to show 'misuse'; (4) to show 'proximate cause' of an injury. The defense should not apply to determination of liability, but only to apportionment of damages.The failure to wear a safety belt shall not be considered evidence of duty of mitigation, should be admitted to establish comparative negligence. Therefore plaintiff's recovery will be reduced only to the extent that his own lack of reasonable care contributed to his injury.It is necessary for us to discuss the seatbelt defenses that are available in a product-liability action.The application of these defenses to modern strict product liability litigation initially raised two sets of issues. First, courts had to determine whether a specific defense was applicable to the various theories of strict products liability. Second, whether the contours of the defenses were the same as in the context of negligence, for example, contributory negligence, comparative negligence, assumption of risk, and misuse.The policies underlying strict liability do not undermine the application of negligence to strict tort liability actions. We conclude that a system of comparative negligence should be applied to strict product liability, if established, will reduce but not bar plaintiff's claim.