Driver and passenger were both drunk returning from an alcohol fueled weekend in the Okanagan. Four friends from the Lower Mainland were all drinking in the car when the injury claimant, the front seat passenger, began gyrating wildly to loud music which resulted in her hitting the steering wheel. The speeding vehicle swerved into a ditch causing the vehicle to flip with the claimant suffering serious personal injuries.(Telford v. Hogan, 2014 BCSC 1925)
The intoxication of the driver was also  found to be a significant contributing cause of the bodily harm suffered by the claimant passenger.  ICBC however referred to a number of cases where passengers have grabbed the steering wheel and interfered with the operation of the vehicle and were to found to be totally at fault.
The Judge found that the driver was more responsibility however for the accident than the injury claimant.  There was the appalling lack of judgment in drinking alcohol during the drive home;  speeding on the highway; and failing to calm the passenger down or re-position her to the back seat when she saw that the claimant was acting so erratically.  Liability was apportioned 75% to the driver and 25% to injury claimant.
The injury claimant was also found to be negligent for drinking alcohol to the point of being severely intoxicated and failing to take reasonable steps to ensure her ongoing ability to assess her safety over the course of the trip home.  The claimant was aware that the driver was drinking over the course of the day and she had particular knowledge of the quantity of what the driver consumed as the majority of it came from her own drink container.  The judge assessed the claimant’s contributory negligence to be 35%.
Posted by Vancouver Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.

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