Over the last decade, you may have heard the words “Uber” and “Lyft” used frequently in everyday conversation. If you are not familiar with their meanings yet, Uber and Lyft are two types of ridesharing services.
Ridesharing services are similar to taxis. You use them when you need to grab a ride somewhere. Basically, how it works is that you will need to download the ridesharing service’s app (e.g., Uber or Lyft) on your phone first.
Once it is downloaded, you will then plug in your destination where it indicates on the app and wait for a driver. Instead of reaching for your wallet, the app links to your credit card and pays automatically after you arrive at your location.
The main difference between taxis and ridesharing services is that taxis are driven by individuals who are employed by taxi service companies. This means that the company must have a permit, known as a taxi medallion, in order to legally transport passengers.
Ridesharing services on the other hand, do not need a medallion to transport passengers, and the car used belongs to and is driven by anyone who wishes to become a driver for the company. In other words, the individual is essentially a freelance driver for the private ridesharing service.
A common carrier is an entity or person that transports people or goods from one place to another place for money. For instance, like a bus or train, Since their services are offered to the general public, they have a high degree of responsibility to keep their passengers safe.
When it comes to Uber and Lyft, however, there has been ongoing debate about whether or not ridesharing services are considered common carriers. The companies claim they are not, and that the individual drivers are actually the people responsible for accidents.
As ride sharing services have become more common though, many states have enacted legislation to hold these types of companies responsible for passenger injuries.
Although the laws of each state may vary, it is better to err on the side of caution and not automatically assume that the ridesharing service is a common carrier in your state. To find out more about your legal rights and available actions as either a driver or passenger of ridesharing services, you should speak to a local Uber attorney for advice.
How Can I Prove the Uber Driver Caused My Injuries?
Common carrier accidents and passenger injuries are two topics that fall under tort law, specifically, negligence. Negligence refers to an individual’s failure to use reasonable care that results in damage or injury being done to another person.
Normally, in a case based on negligence, the plaintiff will have to prove four elements: duty, breach, cause, and damages. The plaintiff must show that a defendant owed a duty to them, they breached it, they were both the actual and proximate cause of that breach, and their actions resulted in damage to the plaintiff.
For the average defendant, the duty of care will be assessed using the standard of an ordinary, reasonable individual. However, this standard changes when the defendant has a stricter duty of care to uphold because of their profession or business.
For example, a doctor will be compared to other doctors when being sued for negligence by a patient. This higher standard can make it harder for the plaintiff to prove their case.
Tort law requires common carriers to be held at a higher standard of responsibility when it comes to handling passengers. Thus, the difficulty in Uber accident cases turns on whether Uber is considered a common carrier or not, and which person to sue: the company or the individual driver? Thus, why it may be in a person’s best interest to contact an Uber attorney for help.
Should I Sue Uber or the Driver and What Remedies are Available?
Another tort law issue that often appears during Uber accident lawsuits are the concepts of vicarious liability and independent contractors.
Vicarious liability occurs when one person may be held accountable for the actions of another. For instance, if an employee commits a negligent act while at work that results in harm to someone else, then the injured person may be able to sue both the employee and their employer for damages.
In contrast, if a worker is an independent contractor and not an employee, then the injured party may only be able to sue the worker and not the person or company who employed them. Whether a person is considered a true independent contractor will depend on various factors and circumstances.
Again, while the laws surrounding these issues may vary by state and are not entirely settled yet, it is more likely that an Uber driver will be held responsible under an independent contractor theory. This means that the damages available will be less than what a plaintiff might receive from the employer corporation (i.e., Uber), and what type of insurance policy the driver holds if any.
However, there are some instances where an attorney may be able to argue that the company is vicariously responsible for the accident. For example, if the plaintiff can prove that the employer engaged in negligent hiring practices and they knew that a particular driver or the hiring processes for drivers was unsafe, then the plaintiff may be able to sue the company for damages as well.
Additionally, Uber may also cover some of the plaintiff’s damages for an accident, but only if it meets certain conditions, such as which driver was at fault in the accident and when no other driver can be held liable for costs. The amounts a person can recover directly from Uber will vary by case.
Thus, a person may want to speak to an Uber lawyer since they can help determine whether there are any remedies available, and if so, how to request them.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for Help with an Uber Lawsuit?
As discussed above, ridesharing services lawsuits can be tricky because the law varies by state and it is constantly changing. Therefore, whether you are a driver or a passenger involved in an Uber accident, you should contact a local Uber attorney for further assistance with your case.
Your attorney can help you prepare your case, determine your remedies or defenses, and will be able to provide representation on the matter in court.