Spawn of the mobile app explosion and born of efficiency, Uber, the taxi, private car, and rideshare system, has become a hit with generation x, y and z. Gallivanters just love to get around using Uber because they don’t have to call a surly dispatcher or hail a cab on the street. All a rider has to do is download the Uber app, link a debit card and at the push of a button from their phone they are able to request a ride and track the driver’s location.
The company markets itself as the super sexy taxi of today, in the business of moving people and helping them get more out of life, sharing new experiences with others and helping its customers own their own destiny. Uber also totes itself as a great company to work for- helping its driver’s turn their personal vehicles into a money making machines. Drivers are employed through Uber as independent contractors and are required to be individually insured and undergo a rigorous background check.
Trusting in the job Uber does to ensure it employs safe drivers, Nashville Native and veteran Uber user, Rebecca Seaver summoned an Uber driver and strapped herself into the backseat of the driver’s BMW when he arrived to pick her up on January 16. Channel 4 WSMV reports that about 5 minutes in, she noticed that the driver was erratically weaving in and out of traffic and traveling at speeds up to 85 mph. Seaver went on to tell Channel 4 that, “I asked him ‘Could you please slow down because I’m not really in a rush’ and he looked at me with this dead look on his face and said ‘You need to keep your mouth shut for the rest of the ride.’ I was just stunned,” said Seaver. She was frightened but strongly conveyed an ultimatum to the driver to either drop her off or slow down. The driver dropped her off downtown in the middle of nowhere at 2am.
Thankfully, Rebecca Seaver finally got home safe that night. She contacted Uber and they immediately and permanently deactivated that driver. But it does make one think- what if the driver’s negligent and erratic driving had caused a car wreck and left his passenger with serious injuries? Who would be responsible for paying the medical bills and additional expenses?
As it turns out- since Uber drivers are individually insured and are considered independent contractors, Uber’s commercial liability insurance most likely would not be exposed for an injured passenger to make a claim for damages. The injured individual would have to make a claim against the driver’s personal auto insurance company. An exception to this rule is if the company is found to be negligent in hiring the driver. For example, if records were subpoenaed from Uber that revealed that the driver did not meet the background check standards due to one of the following reasons or was not carrying the appropriate insurance and was allowed to drive as a representative of Uber anyway:
-Has issues under a Social Security Trace (lifetime)
-Has had a DUI or other drug related driving violations or severe infractions
-Has been charged with a Hit and Run
-Has been at-fault in a fatal accident
-Has a history of reckless driving
-Has a history of violent crimes
-Has a history of sexual offenses
-Has a history of gun violations
-Has resisted or evaded arrest
-Has been driving without insurance or had license suspended in within the last three years.
-Is found in the multi-state criminal database search (going back 7 years)
-Is found on the National Sex Offender Registry screen
We hope that you will never have to search for this information and that all your rides are “uber safe” and efficient. But unfortunately companies sometimes make terrible mistakes and drivers are negligent and this can result in very dangerous situations for unsuspecting passengers. If you or a loved one has been injured while riding as a passenger for Uber, Lyft or any other taxi service- you may be entitled to compensation under the law. The experienced and diligent attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm have the know-how and the resources to preform a comprehensive investigation to determine what parties might be liable for your injuries and take them all the way to court if necessary. We fight for the recovery you deserve. We fight for you. (615) 425-2500.