How Are Uber And Lyft Responding to Lawsuits?
Posted on Apr 17, 2020 in Uber/Lyft
Uber and Lyft ridesharing companies are increasingly facing lawsuits from passengers who claim they were harassed, assaulted, or injured while using their services.
Uber’s own study reveals that 58 people were killed in accidents involving an Uber driver, nine were murdered, and more than three thousand passengers suffered an assault during its rides in the US in 2018 alone.
Uber and Lyft’s Response to Lawsuits
Publicly, both Lyft and Uber claim that they are committed to ensuring passenger safety and putting new driver screening protocols in place. However, when it comes to lawsuits from victims, their actions are often not reflective of this commitment.
In their defense against numerous civil lawsuits in state courts, both of these rideshare companies try to absolve themselves of any responsibility for personal injury or criminal assault incidents committed by their drivers. They submit their defense before the courts that any damages caused to the victims are not within the scope of their employment relationship with the at-fault drivers.
The companies’ defense hinges on their categorizing their drivers not as employees, but as independent contractors. This distinction completely changes the rules for Uber and Lyft’s liability in personal injury and other civil claims.
Lawsuits on the Rise
Court records reveal that in 2019, as many as 22 personal injury lawsuits were filed against Lyft across various state courts (in 2017 and 2018 combined, the number of lawsuits was only seven). Uber, on the other hand, had 11 lawsuits filed in 2019 against it in state courts, while it was sued 10 times in 2018. However, the previous year, the number of lawsuits against Uber was just five.
These lawsuits often pertain to personal injuries caused due to the negligence of Uber and Lyft drivers. They also include assault cases, where the plaintiffs hold the companies responsible for their negligence in hiring and supervision, while also giving false public assurances of safety.
Uber has also been fighting at least 30 lawsuits in federal courts since 2014 under similar charges. No federal lawsuits have been filed against Lyft, as per court records.
Lawsuits Highlight Poor Safety Standards
The lawsuits filed against Uber and Lyft show that the main charge of victims is that these rideshare companies failed to properly investigate their complaints and have not worked to ensure a safe environment for the passengers.
Most of the lawsuits seek damages and ask the defendants to improve their pre-hire screening and post-hire monitoring standards for their drivers. Many of the plaintiffs have suggested improvements, such as video recording of the rides, and fingerprint-based driver background checks.
On August 1st, 2019, seven women filed lawsuits against Lyft alleging sexual assaults, including rapes, by Lyft drivers. Four out the seven women allege that their Lyft drivers had raped them. One of the victims, a resident of Louisiana, alleged that in January of 2019, she had been assaulted and raped by the Lyft driver after an event in New Orleans.
The lawsuit accused Lyft of failing to undertake basic safety steps that would have prevented these alleged sexual assaults. The lawsuits claim that after the victims reported these attacks, the ridesharing company either failed to follow up on the complaints or ignored the seriousness of the incidents.
In another recent case, a woman in Georgia filed a lawsuit against Uber after the company failed to investigate her complaint of an attempted assault. The victim claimed in her lawsuit that in its marketing and advertising messages, Uber presents itself as a safe choice for passengers, especially those who are in a state of intoxication.
However, in reality, Uber fails to take the basic measures to protect them. The lawsuit alleged that Uber was talking the talk, but did not walk the walk. The company has not yet responded to the lawsuit.
Court Rulings Reject Uber & Lyft’s Contractor Defense
In the federal lawsuits filed against Uber, the judges have largely rejected the ridesharing company’s contractor defense. On the contrary, the courts looked at what could the company has reasonably done to prevent such incidents and what was the reasonable belief or perception of a rider about whether an Uber driver was an employee or an independent contractor.
In one of the cases in DC federal court, Judge James Boasberg, said that it was an irrelevant argument whether the driver was a contractor or an employee. He said negligence on the driver’s part should be considered as reflective of the company on the part of an employee. Therefore, the ridesharing company had a duty to exercise reasonable care while hiring and training its drivers, and subsequently monitoring and supervising their activities and performance.
In another case in San Francisco, the federal judge rejected the claim of the ridesharing company that it cannot be held responsible for the driver’s misconduct just because it classifies them as independent contractors. The judge said that the court was unable to conclude whether the drivers were employees or contractors, or whether the alleged offense happened outside the scope of employment.
The court said that the dangers of this nature are the very reason why a passenger would expect the ridesharing company to carry out thorough background checks on its drivers. The women who had filed the lawsuit against Uber settled with the company finally.
Choose an Experienced Uber & Lyft Personal Injury Lawyer in Louisiana
An accident and injury caused by the negligence of an Uber or Lyft driver can have devastating physical, emotional, and financial consequences for you. At Bloom Legal in New Orleans, we are committed to providing you the most effective legal representation. We will fight to obtain your rightful compensation for your personal injuries.
Our legal team is equipped with exceptional skills and resources to establish evidence and build a solid case against Uber and Lyft rideshare companies in Louisiana for your damages. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 504-599-9997 or contact us online.