BLOG/ SLATER VECCHIO CONNECTED

November 15, 2011

Buckle Up!

Do you always ensure that your passengers are wearing a seat belt? If not, you may be at fault for your passenger’s injuries in the case of an accident.

Vehicle occupants owe a duty of care to put on their own seat belts. But in some situations, the responsibility falls on the driver – as is the case with passengers under the age of 16.

Section 220 (6) of the Motor Vehicle Act says that a driver must ensure that passengers between the age of 6 and 16 are wearing a seat belt in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner.

David Brannen, in an article written for The Lawyers Weekly, draws attention to a Supreme Court of Canada case in which an eight-year-old passenger is severely injured when thrown from a vehicle. He was not wearing a seatbelt. The Court finds the driver responsible, even though the boy’s father was also a passenger in the truck. The Court says it is the driver who has a duty to take reasonable care to ensure passengers under age 16 are wearing seat belts.

Brannen points out that a similar ruling can be extended to other situations where an adult passenger might be disabled or impaired by the consumption of alcohol or drugs. These situations could also find the driver liable if a disabled passenger is not wearing a seat belt.

Responsible drivers make sure all passengers are wearing seat belts.

Author - Michael Slater, QC

Michael Slater QC is the founding partner of Slater Vecchio. The majority of his practice is confined to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury cases.