'Irresistible inference' from accident report that city liable
A recent report into the 2013 crash between an Ottawa bus and train that killed six shows that the city’s liability in the case is clear-cut, Ottawa personal injury lawyer Howard Yegendorf tells CTV News Ottawa.
Discussing the Transportation Safety Board’s final report into the crash between an OC Transpo bus and a VIA train two years ago that killed the bus driver and five passengers, Yegendorf, of Howard Yegendorf & Associates LLP, tells the news outlet that the accident is as much of a tragedy for the driver’s family as for anyone else. However, he says you have to look at his actions in order to assess the merits of the lawsuits in the matter.
“The Transportation Safety Board’s report says that there was nothing wrong with the train, the crossing was functioning properly, there was nothing wrong with the bus, there was no medical event, sudden medical event, that the driver experienced or suffered. So, to me, there’s an irresistible inference that the city is liable, that there was driver distraction and driver error, and that the city is liable for that, they are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees,” says Yegendorf.
The TSB report, in commenting on the bus driver, stated that the accident could happen to anybody.
“Of course it could happen to anybody. The reality is, it happened to this driver because he was distracted and the report made it clear that he was distracted. So where does that leave the city? It leaves the city responsible for the negligence of its driver,” he adds.
Yegendorf tells CTV News Ottawa that it is unlikely that VIA is in any way liable for the crash. The rail company has sued OC Transpo for the damage to their train in the accident, and Yegendorf notes that this action is likely to be successful.
The 30 or so personal injury claims in the matter are currently being case managed by Justice James McNamara, with a view to streamlining the litigation and moving it forward, he adds.
“But what I think the Transportation Safety Board decision says, it's made it clear, there’s no issue as to liability, the city is responsible for this crash, and so the lawsuits are just really exercises now in assessing the damages of the various plaintiffs,” says Yegendorf.