When an Uber, Lyft, or other ride-sharing service driver commit rape, assault, or theft, the driver and the company can be held liable for damages to the injured party. These companies have a duty of care that includes protecting users of their services from known threats to their health and safety. While these companies attempt to hide behind their terms of service, the courts have found in favor of plaintiffs in numerous cases.
The Question of Liability
Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies are contractor-reliant enterprises. Uber alone has more than 300,000 drivers. Because these are contractors and not employees, the question of liability isn’t clear-cut. For a plaintiff to sue the company for a driver’s actions, it must be shown that the actions of the driver occurred within the scope of employment. It must also be shown that the company has the ability to exercise control over the driver. By requiring adherence to certain protocols, assigning driving routes, hiring/firing drivers, and requiring the use of certain equipment, the company is exercising control.
However, the court’s have ruled that Uber, Lyft, etc. can be held liable as common carriers. Essentially, they can be held liable for negligent hiring practices that place passengers at risk. Failing to require a background check that would have uncovered a driver’s previous convictions for armed robbery, sexual assaults, etc. is a good example.
In addition to pursuing claims against Uber and the individual driver, victims can pursue claims against the driver’s insurance company. Drivers are required to carry up to $1 million in liability coverage.
Uber Settles Sexual Assault Claims
Uber settled two claims of sexual assault in November 2016 stemming from an assault in Boston in February 2015 and one from Charleston in August 2015. Both assaults occurred due to lax screening procedures that allowed dangerous sexual predators to transport vulnerable passengers. These settlements followed other settlements from locations around the world where courts found the company liable for placing passengers in jeopardy of assault, rape, and robbery.
A personal injury lawyer in Illinois can help pursue claims against Uber, Lyft, etc. and their drivers who cause injury or harm. Whether the injuries stem from negligent driving behaviors or assault and battery, injured parties have options available to pursue compensation for medical expenses, counseling, destroyed property, and punitive damages.