Seat Belt Rules in British Columbia
If you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident and you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, you can still make a compensation claim. However, ICBC may try to argue a defense of contributory negligence.
The law on seatbelts in BC
The law states that you must wear a seatbelt when travelling in a vehicle in British Columbia. In fact, seatbelts have been mandatory since 1977, and you could face a fine if you’re caught not wearing one.
A seatbelt is defined as having a pelvic restraint, an upper torso restraint, or both. Those over the age of 16 are responsible for using their own seatbelts. The driver of the vehicle is liable for anyone under the age of 16.
There are also special rules for children who are too small for seatbelts. In British Columbia, child car seats are broken down into four stages:
- Infants – must sit in rear-facing car seats, away from front air bags, until they are 12 months old and weigh 20lbs
- Toddlers – must sit in front-facing car seats, away from front air bags, until they weigh 40lbs
- Children under the age of 9 – must sit in booster seats with seat belts until the age of 9 or until they are 145cm tall
- Children over the age of 9 – must have a properly adjusted seatbelt
Can I still make a claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?
Yes, you can still make a claim if you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident and you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time. This is a big concern for lots of injured people, as they assume that because they were breaking the law, they won’t be entitled to take legal action.
However, please don’t worry. If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident in British Columbia, you can always claim Part 7 benefits. These are often known as ‘no fault’ benefits because it doesn’t matter who was to blame, or whether you were wearing a seatbelt.
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you’ll also be allowed to make a tort claim. This is more widely known as a personal injury compensation claim. It allows to you recover additional money for your out-off-pocket losses.
You can make a compensation claim, even if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the motor vehicle accident. The fact is that you’ve been injured because of another person’s negligence, for which you deserve to be compensated.
Will my claim be affected?
However, if you make a compensation claim and you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, ICBC may try to argue a defense of contributory negligence. This means that you contributed towards the accident and/or your injuries in some way.
Even so, ICBC must prove that your injuries were made worse because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. It can be difficult to establish this beyond reasonable doubt. If ICBC manages to prove this, your compensation settlement may be reduced. If not, you’ll be entitled to the maximum sum of compensation.