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Independent Bicycle Couriers – can they be liable?

Deliveries made by bicycle couriers are common and are a common part of downtown streets.  These bicycle couriers frequently travel against the traffic control signal, ride through and on the pedestrian crosswalks and cause havoc to motor vehicle operators and innocent pedestrians using sidewalks and crosswalks.  It is generally thought that the bicycle couriers work for themselves and as such do not have insurance to answer a potential claim for damages. 

This is very frequently not the case.  If you are a pedestrian who has been injured as a result of a bicycle courier you may have access to the insurance coverage of the courier’s actual employer, the courier company who provides his packages to be delivered.  The courier company will deny the employer – employee relationship citing a document which it will have had each of its couriers sign at the time of hire in order to establish an independent contractor relationship precluding liability on the company’s part.

The Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990 sections 140(6) and 144(7) make it an offence to ride a bicycle across the roadway within a pedestrian crossover.  The Supreme Court of Canada and various levels of Court have established legal tests to determine whether a bicycle courier is an employee and as such liability would fall vicariously to the employing courier company or whether the courier is working as an independent contractor without insurance in all likelihood.  The  legal test assesses amongst other things, who was in control of the courier’s services performed, equipment and opportunity to profit.  In Dynamex Canada Corp. v. Minister of National Revenue, (2010) the Court found the bicycle courier was an employee of Dynamex for a variety of reasons, notwithstanding, the Dynamex argued to the contrary.  Dynamex was found liable for the damages caused by the bicycle courier.

Determinations are made on the individual facts of each case.  If you have suffered injuries as the result of a bicycle courier, there may be recourse. 

At Himelfarb Proszanski, we are on top of the law to ensure that our clients maximize their settlement, just part of the Himelfarb Proszanski Advantage.

For assistance with a personal injury and/or insurance claim, please email David Himelfarb at or call 1-855-446-7765, for a free case evaluation.

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