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Seat belt tort reform first significant business bill passed in 2019

SB 30, a bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, dealing with admissibility of seat belt usage information in certain cases, is the first significant bill affecting business to be passed in the 2019 Legislative Session.

Sen. Dan Hegeman

Rep. Nick Schroer

The bill was handled in the House by Rep. Nick Schroer. Sen. Hegeman and Rep. Schroer had filed similar legislation in several previous legislative sessions.

The bill allows seat belt evidence to be admissible in actions arising out of the design, construction, manufacture, distribution or sale of a motor vehicle that is factory equipped with a seat belt. Failure to wear the seat belt may be admissible as evidence of comparative negligence or fault, causation, absence of a defect or hazard and failure to mitigate damages. In addition, the current 1% cap on reductions in award for failure to wear a seat belt is removed and the judge and/or jury are allowed to determine the impact of the decision not to wear the safety belt.

“Associated Industries of Missouri has supported this bill for many years because judges and juries deserve to know whether a plaintiff claiming the safety devices in a vehicle did not adequately protect them was actually using the safety devices provided by the manufacturer,” said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri.

This act has an effective date of January 1, 2020. The bill now goes to Governor Mike Parson for signature or veto.

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