Car services such as Uber and Lyft have grown in both popularity and profit recently. Both companies pride themselves of making it easier for people to get a car to their location when they need. However, the more people using these companies opens up for more people to be involved in an accident in or with an Uber or Lyft vehicle. When the accidents happen, who is liable?
Uber and Lyft are both run on apps that allow passengers to tell a car when and where to pick them up. Many customers find these services more reliable than cab companies and enjoy the convenience their mobile app offers. The use of a mobile app as well as the comfort that people can rely on the car to be there has made Uber and Lyft grow in popularity in various cities.
Despite its business success, Uber has started coming under fire for accidents involving their vehicles. In San Francisco on New Years 2014, 6-year-old Sofia Liu was killed when she was struck by an Uber driver waiting for a fare. Uber said that at the moment of the accident it was not technically an Uber car that struck her because there was no fare. However, Uber works by having drivers log in to the app. So even without a fare, the driver is on the Uber clock.
In this case, the driver ended up taking the fall for the accident even though at the time he was on the clock for Uber. There are various other lawsuits facing Uber, including sexual misconduct from drivers. When issues like this come up with taxi companies, both the driver and the cab company are held liable. However, Uber drivers are not technically employees of the company, making the company exempt from any issues they cause. Drivers of Uber are independent contractors, keeping Uber safe from the legal ramifications of their actions.
To many, these transportation services are a convenient, fun way to get from A to B. They provide a necessary service to people and have, so far, avoided taking blame when their company’s drivers cause harm to others. As Uber grows in popularity, it faces scrutiny against its business practices, primarily its use of uncertified, independent contractor drivers.
For Uber to remain a service people can rely on, it needs to take the blame when its employees cause harm, injury or death to anyone, passenger or not.
Looking for more information on auto accident liability law? Read this.