Insurers can expect claims after the over-crowded Raptors parade

June 24th, 2019  |  News

If you’re a lawyer, don’t be surprised to hear about insurance claims after the Toronto Raptors championship parade.

Many risks were present during the June 17th event, mainly due to the lack of resources available poor planning by organizers. This mix led to the inability to keep crowds in control, said Weston Pollard, partner at Edwards Pollard in Oakville, Ont., where he focuses on personal injury law and insurance defence.

Fans flooded the streets of downtown Toronto for the parade, climbing monuments, bus shelters and light poles for a better view of the stage.

“It’s going to be interesting to see,” Pollard said. “It’s going to be case-by-case. If you’re the idiot on the flagpole, the city has a reasonable defence that you assume that risk.”

If someone needed medical attention and couldn’t be reached in a reasonable fashion due to overcrowding, “those kinds of things are going to creep up, and I think there is some exposure in those circumstances,” Pollard warned. “I don’t think the city took every reasonable step here to protect the people.”

Gary Hirst, president and CEO at CHES Special Risk in Toronto, says “Whoever organized it … would in my view have an exposure to liability if people were fainting [or] if someone had a heart attack and the ambulance couldn’t get there on time. It’s just the overall planning of the event could manifest itself in some sort of liability claim.”

Many businesses are also expected to make claims. If they suffered a broken window, for example, their carrier will go to the city to reimburse those costs.

“They’ll go through their own insurance and then I bet you we see some subrogated claims against the city come in from insurers who have paid out on these claims which we can directly trace back to crowd control issues,” Pollard said.

There is also a concern about the shooting incident that happened just outside the square during the celebrations. Many fans were trampled as people fled the square, which causes debate whether the city managed the flow of people in and out of the square properly.

There was also a potential risk of people being hit by a bus. During the parade, many people ran alongside and between vehicles despite police attempts to keep a perimeter. Had something happened, the person who would have been hit by the bus would not have received the blame, despite the common sense that the personal should not have been running beside it on a public road.

“The auto insurers would have something to say about an injury that was caused if you tripped over and fell under the wheels,” Hirst said. “Ultimately, it would be up to the auto insurers to subrogate against the organizers.”

Reasonableness would be the main question here, Pollard noted.

“It will be handled like any regular lawsuit. If there are multiple ones, then the insurer for the bus company will have to take a hard line with it and say, ‘Your actions were not reasonable that day. If anyone is at fault, it’s not our driver,’” he said. “It’s got to be the city and the organizer. Bring them in as a third party and say, ‘It’s on you, city.’”