Is Uber coming to Vancouver? If so, what does that mean for the personal injury world?

What is Uber?

Uber is a ride sharing service based out of San Fancisco. Their business model is to use a smart phone app to put people seeking rides in touch with drivers. The app allows customers to track where their ride is.

What are the Benefits?

Let’s face it, catching a cab in Vancouver can be an absolute nightmare. There simply are not enough of them, and the city refuses to issue more licenses. Every time the city does try, they are hit with a wave of opposition from the people who do currently own the licenses, and have paid upwards of $800,000 for them. The simple fact of the matter is that Vancouver has rapidly expanding population, and the number of licenses has not kept up with this demand. Additionally, current bylaws generally prevent taxis from picking up customers outside their city of origin. For example, a cab from Surrey can drive someone into Vancouver but cannot pick a customer up once downtown. They license generally limit them to picking up clients in their city of origin.

Are things really that bad in Vancouver. Yes, Vancouver has some of the priciest and least available taxis in the Canada, and possibly the lowest number of taxis per capita in all of North America:

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/report-says-vancouver-has-fewer-cabs-pricier-rides-than-other-cities-1.1972627

What are the Risks of Uber?

Beyond the inherent risks that go along with getting into a car with a somewhat random person, ICBC has stated they will only insure Uber drivers if they meet a list of criteria, which are not possible to attain right now (the driver would need a taxi/limousine license):

http://www.icbc.com/FAQ/Pages/insurance.aspx

What this means is that if the Uber driver is at fault, ICBC will not cover them. This also includes personal injury cases brought by their customers. When riding as a passenger, the person who causes the accident is liable any injury to their passengers.

Alternatives?

There are alternatives. Firstly, some kind of private insurance arrangement could be had. Yes, there are other insurance companies. The issue is that the government has legislated that all residents of BC must get ICBC for their basic insurance. Perhaps, Uber, as a commercial company, could find a way to work around the ICBC scheme.

You could also go after the assets of the driver and potentially Uber themselves. That being said what kind of assets do you expect an Uber driver to have. Well, they have a car…probably.

Quite frankly, I do not see Uber launching in Vancouver until they have worked out their insurance issues. The risks are just too large.

Cabs

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