In ‘Nabor Well Services v. Romero’ in 2015, the Texas Supreme Court upended more than 40 years of precedent when it allowed evidence of a plaintiff’s nonuse of seat belts to reduce a plaintiff’s recovery in a car crash case. This evidence is not now automatically admissible, however. The defendant must first show that the evidence is relevant, and the probative nature of the evidence must outweigh its prejudicial nature.
The Texas Supreme Court first addressed the admissibility of seat belt evidence in 1973, in Kerby v. Abilene Christian College. The Kerby court sharply distinguished between negligence contributing to causing a crash and negligence contributing to causing a plaintiff’s damages. The court excluded seat belt evidence because it reasoned that any negligence in not wearing a seat belt could not be contributory negligence that contributed to causing the crash.
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