What if your Uber driver is drunk?
… Or high? You get into the vehicle, and you get into a terrible accident. What happens in that situation? Again, it’s going to depend on the specifics of the case. One thing that I would want to know if I were defending the case and that I’d be looking into quite a bit is, “Well, did you know, plaintiff? Did you know, Uber passenger, that your driver was drunk or high? If so, why did you get in that vehicle, or why didn’t you tell him to stop the vehicle and get out?” Your own knowledge or what you should have known is going to be something that will be looked at in that kind of a case.
You’ve got a claim against the Uber driver personally, but the Uber driver probably has very limited resources. There may not be adequate insurance coverage for you to be completely made whole. The question becomes, how good is your claim against Uber, the company, because Uber has vast resources. They do have the ability to make you whole.
In your claim against Uber, based on your drunk Uber driver or your high or otherwise intoxicated or sleep-deprived Uber driver, one of the key questions is going to be, “What did Uber know, or what should Uber have known?” For instance, one of the things that I would want to do in this kind of a case, if I were representing a person who was injured while they were riding as a passenger in an Uber vehicle and they were injured because of the negligence of a drunk Uber driver, I would be doing some pretty serious discovery.
I would be digging out every bit of information that Uber had about this Uber driver. For instance, every time you go on an Uber ride, you are asked to rate the driver, and you’re given an opportunity, in addition to saying, “Okay I give him five stars,” or “I give her five stars,” you can also make some comments. I’d love to see what those comments say. We might go back through those comments that they should have a computer record of. Wow, that might have some real smoking gun evidence for you. There might be comments such as, “I think my Uber driver might have been drunk,” or, “I can’t say for sure, but I thought I smelled alcohol on the breath of my Uber driver,” or, “My Uber driver had an open container of alcohol in the vehicle as he was driving me around.” “My Uber driver was smoking a joint as he drove me around.” It’s all happened. I guarantee you, all of those scenarios have happened and they probably happen more often than you think.
If that is the situation, I think I’ve got a lot of basis for arguing that, “Uber, you knew, or you should have known, if you were reviewing these comments that you were being sent to you, that you had a dangerous driver here, and you had a duty to me, as your customer, to protect me from this known hazard.”
Again, the question is, what did Uber or Lyft or whoever the ridesharing company is, what did they know, or what should they have known, and did they act properly based on the information that they had or that was available to them? Perhaps the information was not even available to them, but if they’d have done even a modest, tiny little investigation as to how the drivers were doing, they would have known. Those are the kinds of things that you can use to build a case.
I’m not going through all of these issues and discussing these issues for the purpose of throwing Uber under the limo. I happen to be a big fan of Uber. I use the services frequently, and I recommend it to other people. But, there are a host of legal issues, some of which we’ve discussed here, that are brand new. They haven’t been sorted through yet. You may encounter these legal issues if you are injured while you are a passenger in a Uber vehicle.
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to give me a call.