Many already know that wearing a seatbelt is the law, but what exactly happens if you and/or your passengers don’t? Understanding the law and the possible ramifications of failing to wear a seatbelt may make you think again about not buckling up for that 5 minute drive. Not wearing a seatbelt cannot only hurt you physically, but it can take a significant toll on you financially. This is not just because of the potential traffic tickets, but also in the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Dealing with ICBC
In British Columbia, the value of your ICBC claim may decrease if you are found to be “contributorily negligent”. Essentially, a person advancing an ICBC claim who is injured through the fault of another motorist may be found “contributorily negligent” for failing to wear a seatbelt if it can be proven that the injuries sustained would have been prevented or lessened by the use of a seatbelt.
If this is the case, courts in B.C. are responsible for identifying injuries due to failing to wear a seatbelt and ultimately deducting the claim value when compensating the injured individual. In general, if you did not wear a seatbelt and are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the value of your claim will be reduced by approximately 15-25%. However, this range is subject to change depending on the severity and circumstances of your case.
However, note that failing to wear a seatbelt doesn’t automatically reduce the value of your claim. To be entitled to a reduction of your damage award, ICBC must prove that, had you been wearing your seatbelt, you either would not have suffered a particular injury or, alternatively, that your injuries would not have been as severe. Therefore, what happens if ICBC insists that you are partially to blame for your injuries because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt? The key here is to provide sufficient and credible evidence. The Court will weigh all the evidence presented at your trial and determine whether it is more likely than not that the following is true:
- The accident was the cause or an accessory to your suffered injuries.
- The defendant was negligent and caused the accident.
If both of the above-mentioned statements are deemed true, the Court must consider whether you are partially at fault for your injuries because you did not take reasonable measures for your own safety. This is known as the “seatbelt defence.” So, what happens when there is a valid seatbelt defence? The court will order a reduction of your claim.
The biggest takeaway from this post, then, is to ensure that both you and your passengers buckle up in order to take reasonable care of your safety. Not only will you save yourself from the potential of physical harm, but also save your wallet.