Ride-sharing has truly become its own industry since Uber was first started 8 years ago in 2009, while completely disrupting business for limousines, taxi cabs, and private car services.
Just like any rides involving a moving vehicle on the road, Uber and Lyft car rides experience accidents and issues with their drivers. What should you do if you are injured while in an Uber, Lyft, Via, or Juno vehicle? Are you able to sue the company directly? Or is it the individual driver who is at fault, as they are the driver and sometimes, the owner of the vehicle? What if you’re the driver? Ride-sharing motor vehicle accidents can be frustrating and complex, and you’ll want a qualified and experienced Uber accident attorney to assist you throughout the process.
By the third quarter of 2016, there were over 70 pending federal lawsuits in the U.S. against Uber and quite a few more at the state court level. This does not account for any international lawsuits or cases involving them.
Uber specifically is no stranger to lawsuits. Below are four recent examples of lawsuits against Uber Technologies, Inc., including a negligence suit in a rape case, a discrimination case against the blind and people with service dogs, a case by the FTC involving false and misleading claims, and a wrongful death suit regarding a child.
Rape and Negligence Lawsuit
A West Hollywood-based 27-year-old woman sued Uber in July of 2016 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles alleging that Uber’s negligence resulted in her being raped by her Uber driver in 2014.
The lawsuit discussed Uber’s claims about their safety records, with their website even saying, “A ride you can always trust,” and “Uber is dedicated to keeping people safe on the road.” According to the complaint filed, the plaintiff ordered an Uber after a night out with friends to take her safely to her boyfriend’s home.
Unfortunately, she woke the next morning in her own bed, naked. The last thing she remembered was taking a sip from a water bottle offered to her by the driver while in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.
The UCLA Rape Treatment Center matched DNA found on the plaintiff to Walter Alberto Ponce, an Uber driver, who was then charged with two felonies: rape of an unconscious person and assault with intent to commit rape. These charges were reduced to a lesser charge of criminal sexual battery, which he did not contest. He served six months in jail and then went on probation. He is also required to register as a sex offender.
While Uber does conduct criminal background checks on its drivers before hiring them, Ponce did not have a criminal record prior to the 2014 incident. The plaintiff and her attorneys are hoping this civil case will force Uber to take a closer look at the drivers they are hiring, which does not currently include in-person interviews or any fingerprinting process. They are seeking punitive damages and compensation for pain and suffering, as well as covering the costs of the lawsuit.
National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al.
This case, which settled in April of 2016 after over a year of litigation and settlement discussions, involved blind people and guide-dog users who faced discrimination as passengers by Uber drivers.
Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit, along with co-counsel, represented the National Federal of the Blind, its California affiliate, and several blind individuals who use guide dogs, all of whom filed this lawsuit to ensure that blind people have reliable and equal access to Uber transportation.
Though Uber touts a zero-discrimination policy, many individual drivers have refused service to blind people and their guide animals. This is discrimination. As part of the settlement, Uber has agreed to permanently remove any drivers that have been found to knowingly deny service to anyone with a service animal, and cannot deny service based on allergies or fears, either. They also agreed to track and respond to reports of discrimination more effectively and as a higher priority.
Federal Trade Commission v. Uber Technologies
In January 2017, Uber Technologies Inc agreed to a settlement to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit brought on by the Federal Trade Commission over driver compensation claims and its car leasing program. According to the Chicago Tribune, the FTC claimed that Uber made “false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims about how much a driver could earn on the service. The agency alleged Uber made similar misrepresentations about its vehicle financing program.”
The FTC complaint has many examples of what they said were false or misleading statements , including how in 2015, Uber’s website claimed median annual income was $90,000 in New York CIty, while the actual average income was reported as less than $60,000. They also had many ads stating drivers could “make $20/hour,” but in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis, this has proven to be untrue.
Ang Liang Liu et al. v. Uber Technologies et al.
In the Summer of 2015, Uber reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a 6-year-old girl who died in a car accident in San Francisco. The young girl, Sofia Liu, her younger brother, and her mother were pedestrians in a crosswalk when they were hit by a car on December 31st, 2013.
The driver of the vehicle was an UberX driver between fares but currently logged into the app when he struck the Liu family.
The Liu family asked for the settlement terms to be confidential, but hoped that their suit would help resolve legal issues raised by their daughter’s premature death.
Whether you are a ride-sharing passenger, the driver, in another vehicle altogether, a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or biker, you may be able to get compensation for your medical expenses, treatment, lost wages, and any pain and suffering the accident has caused, and if your vehicle was involved, vehicle repair costs.
What should you do if you have been involved in an accident?
- Call the police and wait for them to arrive at the scene of the accident
- Make a police report
- Seek immediate medical attention if necessary
- If you are the driver: Exchange information with the other driver, such as name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, name of insurance company, and policy number. Take pictures of yours and the other driver’s license and insurance card.
- Get the names of any passengers involved
- Take down the names of any witnesses, even if the police also speak with them.
- Contact an attorney as soon as possible!
It can be difficult to determine who is at fault for your injuries and who can be held liable, especially with so many variables at play. Let an experienced ride-sharing accident lawyer assist you with compassion and a passion for getting justice. Contact us today at the Law Offices of Mitchell Ashley to speak to a top personal injury and Uber accident attorney.