You’ve been in an accident and ICBC says that you are partially to blame for your injuries because you weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Is this true? Our accident lawyers answer this common and somewhat complex question.

The answer is “maybe.” In a motor vehicle accident case, the plaintiff is always required to prove his or her claim on a balance of probabilities. This means that after weighing all of the evidence presented at trial, the Court determines whether it is more likely than not (something more than 50%) that:

  • the defendant was negligent and caused the accident
  • the accident caused or contributed to the injuries that you suffered.

If the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” only then does the Court consider whether you are you partially to blame for your injuries because you failed to take reasonable care for your own safety. This, as our accident lawyers explain, is known as the “seatbelt defence.”

In simple terms, a seatbelt defence requires that the defendant prove on a balance of probabilities that you suffered more severe injuries because you were not wearing a seatbelt. Wearing a seatbelt is the law and it’s always important to buckle up properly.

However, just because you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident does not necessarily mean that ICBC has a valid seatbelt defence.

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.

For example, if you break your nose after hitting the steering wheel, ICBC will have a valid seatbelt defence if it can prove that you would not have broken your nose had you been wearing your seatbelt. However, if you would have broken your nose even if you had been wearing your seatbelt, then there should be no reduction in your damage award or settlement.

So, what happens when there is a valid seatbelt defence?

In this event, the Court considers all of the circumstances and orders a reduction of your damages for failing to take reasonable care for your own safety.

The amount of reduction ordered by the Court depends on the specific facts of each case, but generally results in a reduction in the range of 10% to 50%.


Were you injured in an accident and want to know if ICBC has a valid seatbelt defence in your injury case? Contact the accident lawyers at Gillespie & Company, where we offer expertise, the results you deserve and senior lawyers working directly on your file at every step. 250-374-4463.