ACT News

Passenger in drunken crash contributed to his own injury: court

A passenger hurt in a car crash after allowing his drunk friend to get behind the wheel contributed to his own injuries, an appeal court has confirmed.

The two friends were drinking in the early hours of October 25, 2008, and were at the driver's home in Duffy.

The driver said he wanted to go for a drive because he was not feeling well and wanted to talk about things.

The passenger agreed, giving evidence that he was concerned about his friend's mental health.

Their car left the road at a corner as they drove along Corin Road, and rolled a number of times.

A blood sample later revealed the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.155, more than three times the legal limit.

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The passenger was injured in the crash and successfully made a personal injury claim in the ACT Supreme Court.

But his damages, which were above $100,000, were reduced by 35 per cent because a court found he was responsible for "contributory negligence".

The court found he knew his friend had been drinking for an extensive period.

They had been drinking together from about 5.30pm or 6pm to roughly 1am, about one-and-a-half hours before the crash.

The passenger claimed he had withdrawn his consent to being driven dangerously by repeatedly telling his friend to slow down in the moments leading up to the accident.

He appealed the decision of the ACT Supreme Court on seven grounds, including that the judge erred in finding the damages should be reduced by 35 per cent.

But the full bench of the ACT Court of Appeal dismissed the passenger's appeal on Tuesday.

They found the 35 per cent reduction of damages was appropriate, and accepted the original court's finding that the passenger had not withdrawn from the dangerous driving "enterprise" by telling his friend to slow down.

"His request that the first respondent slow down cannot amount to a disavowal by the appellant of willingness to engage in the course of conduct that ultimately led to his injuries," the judges wrote.

The passenger also failed to convince the full bench he sustained a neck injury from the crash, or that the original court made an error by rejecting evidence of his past loss of earnings capacity.

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