What is this I hear about how it is very difficult to sue and hold Uber liable for anything. What the heck am I supposed to do then? Sue the driver?
Is it true I cannot sue Uber or Lyft even if my driver gets into a horrible wreck?
The Guru Take
There is a level of complexity, as drivers are independent contractors.
You must be referring to the fact that in a case of a car accident involving a rideshare driver, the parties involved may not be able to sue the rideshare companies directly. This is because the drivers are independent contractors and the rideshare companies like Uber can claim they were not a part of or involved in the accident. For there to be a case against Uber, you'd need to prove there was negligence and that there were components that they were responsible and liable for.
"It turns out, if you’re ever in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you likely won’t sue the ride-sharing company outright, according to multiple lawyers. Drivers are technically independent contractors, not employees, meaning the company can deny liability for crashes involving their drivers (and have done so in the past, most notoriously when a driver hit and killed a six-year old in San Francisco in 2014).
“It is much more difficult to hold a company responsible for the actions of an independent contractor, as opposed to an employee driver,” says Phil Griffis, a Houston, Texas-based civil litigator." (Source)
In most car accidents including those involving pedestrians, the responsibility will likely fall on the "at-fault" drivers, and their liability insurance would pay for the damages (potentially through litigations). After the drivers' coverage limit is exceeded, Uber's insurance for the drivers will kick in. (currently at $1,000,000 USD at the time of this writing) However, keep in mind that Uber-provided insurance covers drivers only when there are passengers in the car or when they are responding to ride requests.
Of course, there may be cases where you could sue Uber and hold them responsibile if you can prove their wrongdoing or negligence. For example, maybe a glitch in their GPS has caused an accident or you can make a claim their background checks weren't thorough enough. Please discuss with a lawyer for details.
Lastly, here are suggestions from Money Magazine on what you should do if you are involved in an accident.
- Call 911, and then take pictures of the wreck
- Write down names, email addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses
- Write down the name of the driver if it’s not already in your phone
- Take screen shots of your Uber ride and receipt on your phone
- Hire a lawyer if you’re injured or incurred any kind of medical bills
I disagree with the majority here. In my opinion, WHO is able to use the ride share platform is ultimately up to the ride share company. How well they vette their drivers is ultimately up to them and they therefore are responsible/liable for selecting poor/incompetent drivers. How qualified/skillful someone is as a driver, their mental state, whether they have the correct insurance and whether vehicle is safe are a myriad of factors that a ride share driver should be denied access to the platform for. Any good lawyer could make hay with just one of those arguments. The fact that someone is not an employee, is just one facet of this gem. In an accident involving a ride share situation, the fact that the driver is a driver, the rider is a rider, the vehicle is in use for this purpose and the fact that all these factors come into play at one time are all things entirely controlled and made to come about by the ride share company. We could not be in this situation, at this moment in time, without the ride share company's ultimate control and participation. The ride share driver may not technically be an employee and the ride share not an employer; but, they are undeniably in a partnership in this enterprise.
In legal situations partners are liable. Especially if they are in the drivers seat of the partnership. Of course all of this only matters if the ride share driver is found to be the at fault driver. Otherwise both driver and rider would look to the other drivers insurance to make them whole. If the ride share driver is at fault, he could well argue he was distracted by the rider. This is where a dashcam is invaluable.