Passenger Found 40% At Fault For Riding in Over-Crowded, Speeding Vehicle
Update October 26, 2016 – Today the BC Court of Appeal overturned the finding of contributory negligence but otherwise left intact the trial reasons rejecting much of the Plaintiff’s claim
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court, Victoria Registry, largely rejecting a personal injury claim from a Plaintiff who sustained modest injuries in a 2009 roll-over collision.
In today’s case (Wormald v. Chiarot) the Plaintiff was 15 year old passenger in the Defendant’s vehicle at the time of the collision. The Defendant had a Novice licence and had 9 passengers in her vehicle ‘far exceeding its designed capacity’. The vehicle’s passengers encouraged the driver to speed, who did so and ultimately lost control of the vehicle, rolling several times coming to a stop in a ditch.
The Plaintiff sued for damages arguing she suffered serious injuries and sought approximately $250,000 in damages. The Plaintiff’s claim was largely rejected with the Court noting that the Plaintiff’s evidence was not entirely reliable.
The Court assessed damages for the Plaintiff’s scars, bruises, scrapes and cuts at $8,000 and then reduced these by 40% due to the Plaintiff’s contributory negligence. In reaching this deduction Mr. Justice Funt provided the following reasons:
 In assessing Ms. Wormald’s contributory negligence, the Court has considered that she knew that:
(a) Ms. Chiarot had a novice licence;
(b) Ms. Chiarot had been drinking, contrary to her novice licence;
(c) Ms. Chiarot had more passengers in the vehicle than was allowed by her novice licence;
(d) the vehicle had more occupants in it than it was designed to carry;
(e) over the course of the night in question, she had several opportunities to remove herself from the situation but did not do so;
(f) she sat in an area of the vehicle where she knew there were no seatbelts; and,
(g) the other occupants planned to throw eggs at people from the moving vehicle (with the reasonable expectation that the vehicle might be chased).
 With respect to Ms. Wormald’s failure to wear a seatbelt, the Court notes that she was not thrown from the vehicle. There was no evidence presented that her injuries would have been any different if she had been wearing a seatbelt. Accordingly, the Court will ignore this factor in assessing Ms. Wormald’s contributory negligence based on the rule in Koopman v. Fehr (1993), 81 B.C.L.R. (2d) 145 (BCCA).
 The Court has also considered Ms. Chiarot’s involvement. She would have known everything Ms. Wormald knew regarding the situation and, moreover, as the driver of the vehicle, would have had control of the situation. Accordingly, Ms. Chiarot was at greater fault than Ms. Wormald. The Court finds Ms. Wormald to be 40% at fault.