Uber X Driver: Who is Liable in a Devastating Car Crash?

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Image courtesy via: Toronto24hoursnews

On Sunday morning around 3 am, there was a car accident in the financial district in Toronto. Police were pursuing a suspect in a car chase. The car flew across Wellington Street allegedly over 100 km/hour and collided with an Uber X vehicle carrying several passengers. The damage was noticeable and serious.

Questions arise:

  1. Are the Uber X passengers covered by insurance?
  2. Are the police responsible at all?
  3. Does the City of Toronto have any blame for failing to regulate a service that Torontonians regularly use? Especially, given that opposition to the licensing of Uber is motivated more by financial concerns than anything else?
  4. Should the prosecution of the inevitable civil action be stayed until the results of the criminal trial?

Having not seen the insurance policy of the driver, I would guess that the passengers are not covered by the Uber driver’s insurance. The driver was using the car commercially, not personally.

As to whether the civil action should be stayed pending the results of the inevitable criminal suit, I would say yes and no. The civil trial should occur after the criminal trial to avoid contradictory findings regarding liability of the driver who was fleeing police. But every other stage of the civil suit should proceed promptly. Therefore, the civil trial could occur quickly after the criminal trial. Delay prejudices claims and brings the justice system into disrepute.

In Jadid v Toronto Transit Commission, 2016 ONSC 1176, Justice Dunphy states that:

86      Furthermore, prejudice is a criterion that captures more than just the mechanical ability of a party to put evidence into the trial hopper for assessment. The burden of dealing with litigation for so many years is a form of prejudice in and of itself. Defendants have a right to receive a decision in a reasonable time frame or be left in peace. The right to pursue a claim is not an absolute — it must be tempered with the right of the defendant unwillingly called to account by a plaintiff to have the claim diligently managed through the litigation process. This defendant has done nothing to hinder or delay the plaintiff and it is the plaintiff who bears the primary responsibility of managing this litigation through to trial: Wallace v. Crate’s Marine Sales Ltd. (supra) at para. 18. The plaintiff’s shortcomings in advancing this case have all been of her own devising.

It will be interesting to watch the civil suit unfold. It will bring into question the insurance policy of the driver, the insurance policy of Uber, and the liability of the City of Toronto, the police, and the other driver who was fleeing the police.

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