It is imperative that a multi-disciplinary approach to the seat belt defense be attempted. With a growing number of exceptions, courts have ruled that a defendant may not seek to lessen or avoid liability by showing that the plaintiff failed to use a restraint system. In this way the seat belt defense has frequently been rendered unavailable. Too often, the judiciary has determined as a matter of law that a reasonable person need not use a life-saving mechanism, denying juries an opportunity to reach a different conclusion. Thus, paradoxically, while courts have expanded the scope of injury liability by asserting that damages could be enhanced if proved with specificity, defendants were advised that proof of the benefits which would have been provided through seat belt use was too speculative. The courts appeared oblivious to the public policies supporting the seat belt defense. Only in recent years has a discernible trend toward recognition of the seat belt defense begun to emerge. The following discussion is offered to increase the understanding necessary for a continuation of this judicial trend and to examine injury prevention through mandatory seat belt use legislation.

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