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Click it or… Well, We Don’t Know Yet

| Mar 27, 2014 | Firm News

The Case: 

Nabors Wells Servs. v. Romero, 408 S.W.3d 39 (Tex. App-El Paso 2013 pet.granted).

The Issue:

Prior to 2003, Texas Transportation Code Sections 545.413(g) and 545.412(d) statutorily barred the admissibility of evidence regarding seat belt non-usage. In 2003, the Texas legislature repealed these sections, seemingly allowing a defendant to use evidence of a plaintiff’s seat belt non-usage to escape or lower liability-i.e., the “seat belt defense.” However, a recent ruling by the El Paso Court of Appeals has denied the seat belt defense, holding that evidence of seat belt non-usage is inadmissible because such evidence was inadmissible at common law before the Texas legislature statutorily barred such evidence. See Nabors Wells Servs., 408 S.W.3d at 44. According to the court, if the legislature wanted to allow the seat belt defense, the legislature should have mandated the admissibility of seat belt non-usage evidence by statue.

The Texas Supreme Court:

On March 21, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court granted a petition for review in Nabors Wells Servs. v. Romero. Although, for now, it seems that defendants cannot use the seat belt defense, we anxiously await the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling, which we suspect may overturn the El Paso Court’s decision.

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