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EDUC 525: Ethics and Law in Education

Learning Task 1 - The Law Assignment

Student Drivers Case: Negligence

Sean Ko (10119624)

Anna Lee (10163064)

Trinh Pham (10136654)

Michela Russo (10151402)

Justine Tarkowski (10159811)

University of Calgary

Student Drivers Case


Based on the fact pattern provided for the Student Driver case, our group has concluded

that four parties are liable for the damages sustained by Prim Irwin. Those four parties are:

Lindsay Waterman, Trudeau High School Administration, Amanda Ballard, and Prim Irwin. This

document will outline the five aspects of negligence, and how each aspect, if applicable, is

evident in the actions of the four parties. Although there were conflicting statements put forward,

for the purposes of the assignment, we will assume the statement that the passenger seat belt was

inoperative at the time of the accident as fact.

Lindsay Waterman

Ms. Waterman has, without a doubt, a duty of care for all of her students, and is expected

under the School Act to act “in loco parentis” for her students (Donlevy, 2018).

The standard of care in this case must be higher than in normal classroom activities, due

to the uncertain nature of taking any trips off of school grounds. There are too many unknown

variables in place to keep students safe when at locations outside of school during school hours,

especially when travelling to and from a location. If we ask what a “reasonable and prudent

parent would do” when planning and carrying out a trip outside of a school/home, we can come

to a consensus that Lindsay Waterman did not uphold a proper standard of care (Donlevy, 2018).

Waterman did not provide a high enough standard of care in her actions by not realizing in the

planning of the trip that the golf course was outside of Okotoks city limits. Furthermore, she did

not make adjustments to plans when she drove to the golf course herself and failed to realize that

the golf course is outside of the city when she entered the highway speed limits of 100km/hr

when the speed limit within city limits is 40km/hr (Donlevy, n.d.).

Although the exact damages were not necessarily foreseeable, an automobile accident in

general is reasonably foreseeable in any situation when driving a vehicle, especially at high
speeds. In this case, the driver was young and inexperienced, indicating an even higher risk of

vehicular accident (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).

When we examine causality of the damages, we can conclude that “but for” Waterman’s

inability to recognize that the golf course was outside of city limits and required driving at high

speeds, the accident and subsequent damages to Prim Irwin would not have occurred.

Trudeau High School Administration

The School Administration is partially liable for the damages sustained by Irwin. The

administration of a school has a duty of care for its students, teachers, and staff (Donlevy, n.d.).

In this particular case, the standard of care was not met because the field trip was

approved despite the golf course being outside of town limits. According to the school policy,

students are only allowed to drive to “local facilities within the town or village boundaries”

(Donlevy, n.d.). Thus, the school administrators demonstrated a level of negligence because they

breached their own school policy when they approved the field trip. A prudent administrator

would ensure that the teacher planned a safe field trip in adherence with school policy or advised

against the field trip.

Amanda Ballard

As all drivers do, Ballard had a duty of care for the safety of herself and her passenger.

Such as in the case of Galaske v. O’Donnell (1994), “a driver of a motor vehicle owes a duty of

care to his passengers to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable injuries…” Ballard had a

duty to make sure that her vehicle was safe for her passenger to be in, including a working seat

belt.

In this case, Ballard did not meet the standards of care as the registered owner of the

vehicle. She was responsible for the safety of her passenger, yet she allowed Irwin to sit in the
passenger seat where she knew the seat belt was broken. In this scenario, Ballard would assume

the role of a responsible adult, and if we were to ask what a “reasonable and prudent person”

(Donlevy 2018) would do, they would not allow a passenger to sit where the seat belt was

broken, exposing the passenger to the possibility of danger. Instead, they would give the

passenger an option to sit in the back seat, get a ride from another person, or prevent Irwin from

getting into the vehicle.

The possibility of an accident is always reasonably foreseeable when you step into a car

and drive, especially at highway speeds. In addition to the accident itself, Ballard would have

had reasonable foreseeability that if an accident did occur, the damages would be severe

especially since the passenger side seatbelt was faulty, as determined by the fact that her parents

had set up an appointment to have it fixed.

“But for” Ballard’s dangerous driving maneuver in a low visibility scenario, the damages

would not have occurred, thus establishing causality for the serious injuries Irwin sustained.

Ballard’s driving is established as dangerous by the fact that she “was charged with Driving

Carelessly under section 115(2)(b) of the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta” (The Traffic Safety Act

of Alberta, 2000).

Prim Irwin

In this case, there is definitely an aspect of contributory negligence, thus making Irwin

partially liable for her own injuries. We can draw a parallel to the Bain case discussed in class

where the student chose to put himself in a dangerous situation and was seriously injured as a

result (Bain v. Calgary Board of Education, 1993).


Duty of care is automatically assumed, because each person has a duty of care to

themselves to ensure their own safety. Such as in the case of Galaske v. O’Donnell (1994),

“Passengers and drivers have a duty to ensure their own safety by wearing seat belts…” Irwin

knew that the seatbelts were not working in Ballard’s vehicle, therefore she did not fulfill her

duty of care to herself.

When we consider the standard of care that Irwin must objectively have, we ask “what

would a reasonable and prudent person do?” (Donlevy, 2018). In this case, a reasonable and

prudent person would ensure that the vehicle that they were entering had appropriate safety

features to prevent serious injury, and upon noticing the faulty seat belt, may have opted to either

catch a ride with someone else, or sit in another seat of the car (provided it exists) that has a

functioning seat belt. A reasonably and prudent person also may have not opened the sunroof of

the car with the knowledge that their seatbelt was not functioning.

It is reasonably foreseeable that choosing to ride in a car without your seatbelt on could

lead to serious damages should an accident occur. In addition, having the sunroof open could,

and did, result in even worse damages. There are multiple sources like (Consumer Report, 2014)

that outline the seriousness of rollover accidents when proper safety features are not in place.

“But for” Irwin’s choice to knowingly get into a seat in the vehicle that had a non-

functioning seatbelt and open the sunroof of the car, the damages would not have occurred or

would not have been as devastating.

While it is true that Ballard has a responsibility as the owner of the car to ensure that

there is a working seat belt, it must be noted that Irwin contributed to this lack of care by

entering the car knowing that the seat belt was not working, hence contributing to the negligence
displayed by all parties.

Damages

Now that we have considered the first four conditions for negligence for each of the

liable parties, we must also consider the fifth condition: damages. The damages to Prim Irwin in

this case are: lower quality of life, mental health implications, costs of special medical

equipment, and potential future wage loss. Any settlement reached would aim to return “status

quo ante” (Donlevy, 2018), which would be Irwin’s state prior to the accident. Compensation for

damages is often monetary, and in this case, the money would come from the school

board/school administration’s insurance that they are required to have according to the School

Act (2000). Due to the involvement of a corporate insurance company, there is potential for a

further fight to get full compensation for damages beyond determining negligence in this case.

Conclusion

After analysis, our group has concluded that the above four parties (Ms. Waterman,

Trudeau High School, Amanda Ballard, and Prim Irwin) contributed to the damages sustained by

Prim Irwin. We conclude that Ms. Waterman and Trudeau High School Administration are 50%

liable, Amanda Ballard is 40% liable, and Prim Irwin holds 10% liability.

References

Bain v. Calgary Board of Education, 1993 CanLII 7301 (AB QB) Retrieved from

http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abqb/doc/1993/1993canlii7301/1993canlii7301.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Teen Drivers: Risk Groups. Retrieved from

https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html
Consumer Report. (2014). Car rollover 101: how rollovers happen and what you can do to avoid

one Retreived October 11th 2018 from https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/02/rollover-

101/index.htm

Donlevy, J.K. (n.d.) Student drivers [Class handout]. Retrieved from University of Calgary D2L

site: https://d2l.ucalgary.ca

Donlevy, J.K. (2018, September 20). Sept 20 2018 Class # 4 [24]. Retrieved from University of

Calgary D2L site: https://d2l.ucalgary.ca

Donlevy, J.K. (2018, September 25). Sept 25 2018 Class # 5 [27, 38]. Retrieved from University

of Calgary D2L site: https://d2l.ucalgary.ca

Galaske v. O’Donnell, 1994 SCC Case 23109 (BC) Retrieved from https://scc-

csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/1122/index.do

The School Act, S.C. 2000, c. S-3, s. 60. Retrieved from

http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/acts/s03.pdf

The Traffic Safety Act of Alberta, S.C. 2000, c.T-6, s. 115.2. Retrieved from

http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/t06.pdf