Passenger liability

Passengers are not generally not liable for causing accidents because they are not usually in control of the vehicle:


In my view, Eid [the passenger] cannot be said to have actively contributed to the accident by any negligent act of his; he was merely a passive victim and not responsible for the way the car was driven

(Eid v. Dumas, [1969] SCR 668).


However, there are circumstances in which a passenger may be found liable for causing an accident e.g. if a passenger in the left rear seat opens a car door without looking to check for cyclists. A passenger could also be found liable for unreasonably distracting a driver.


The most common situation in which the role of a passenger in an accident is considered is when a passenger brings a tort claim for compensation and the defendant argues that the passenger was contributorily negligent for riding in the vehicle in the circumstances e.g. the passenger knew that the driver was intoxicated. These cases generally deal with the extent to which the compensation to the plaintiff should be reduced on account of the plaintiff contributing to his or own injuries, rather than contributing to the happening of the accident. See the discussion in the tort claims section for more information about reduction of compensation on account of passenger contributory negligence.



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