If two people are in a moving vehicle and an accident occurs, it is easy to assume that the incident is the driver’s fault. The driver is in control of the vehicle and has a duty to avoid putting passengers in danger.
But what if the passenger willingly leaps from the moving vehicle? What responsibility does the driver have to slow down or slam on the brakes to protect the passenger? The passenger is making the decision to jump from a moving vehicle, a very dangerous maneuver. Who is at fault?
A driver is responsible for the safety of passengers to a certain degree. For instance, they should not purposely put the lives of passengers in danger by veering off the road or colliding with another vehicle or failing to pay attention to the road. However, it is worth considering whether or not the driver is responsible for preventing the passenger from harming himself or herself while in the vehicle.
Appeal to consider negligence
In a recent case, a man filed an appeal, claiming that he suffered injuries after jumping from a moving vehicle, and that the respondent (the driver) should have slowed down the car or tried to stop the vehicle. The appellant claims that the driver knew he was going to exit the vehicle abruptly, yet made no action to avoid injuring the appellant.
The primary judge found that it was not the respondent’s duty to protect the appellant from causing harm to himself, and that the appellant would likely have suffered injuries of equal or almost equal proportion if the respondent had decided to brake before the appellant jumped from the vehicle.
The Court considers the appeal
The Court then had to reconsider whether the appellant’s injuries would have been avoided or lessened had the driver slowed down, and whether it was a driver’s responsibility to protect the passenger from harming himself.
While the court acknowledged that the respondent had some duty to minimise the harm of a passenger, the Court found no error with the primary judge’s decision. It was ruled a matter of speculation whether the respondent’s further action would have lessened the severity of the appellant’s injuries. The Court also cited a similar case, which supported the consideration that there were only a few seconds between when the appellant opened the door and when he jumped, giving the respondent little time to act.
The appeal was dismissed, and the appellant was ordered to pay the respondent’s costs of the appeal.
If you have questions regarding car accident compensation or negligence, contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information.