If you have been hurt in an accident and you were not wearing your seatbelt you will no doubt face opposition from the at-fault driver’s insurance company about how much compensation should be paid to you. Why? Because the law is clear that there is a duty of care owed by an occupant of a car (you) to wear a seatbelt, which is based upon the sensible recognition of the safety provided by seatbelts and the foreseeability of harm that can no doubt result from the failure to wear them…meaning that if you wear your seatbelt, it’s foreseeable that your injuries could have been prevented or their severity lessened.
If you are awarded compensation by a judge or jury, that compensation will be reduced because of your “contribution” to your own injuries, meaning that by not wearing a seatbelt, you failed to take reasonable precautions to protect yourself from the consequences of the defendant driver’s negligence.
In this circumstance, the judge or jury’s task is to decide on the amount of the reduction considering, as one factor, the extent by which the injuries might have been prevented, but keeping in mind that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident and was the prime cause of all the person’s injuries.
Canadian courts have consistently deducted from 5 to 25 per cent from claims for compensation for personal injury on the grounds that the victims were contributorily negligent for not wearing their seat belts. This has been done whenever it has been demonstrated that the injuries would have been reduced if the belts had in fact been worn. The upper limit is normally available to defendants only in those cases where the judge or jury is satisfied that substantially all of your injuries could have been prevented by wearing your seatbelt and that, where the evidence does not establish that all injuries would have been effectively prevented, the allocation should be less.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation, even if you were not wearing your seat belt at the time – however, you may face a reduction of your award if it’s proven that if you had worn your seatbelt, your injuries would have been prevented or lessened. Call our Hamilton accident lawyers at 905-333-8888 or 1-844-LALANDE (525-2633) or fill in a contact form for more information. All of our consultations are free and we never ask our clients for money upfront.