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Can Uber Be Held Liable for Its Driver’s Negligent Actions?

The website of Uber Technologies, Inc. describes the rideshare service as “the best way to get around” and stresses the importance of finding “a reliable ride to a safe destination.” You might think, then, that Uber goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of its passengers and will assume liability if one of its drivers causes an accident. But that’s not always the case.

Should Uber Drivers Really Be Considered Independent Contractors?

Uber has taken a number of steps to make it difficult for courts to impose traditional respondeat superior concepts of liability. For example, its drivers are classified as independent contractors. Fortunately, due to the increasing number of serious collisions involving Uber vehicles, personal injury attorneys around the country are working hard to find ways to hold the rideshare behemoth accountable for the negligence of its drivers.

Some accident lawyers have pointed out that Uber’s process of hiring and terminating drivers as well as its policies and procedures demonstrate that the company exerts control over its drivers at a level that goes well beyond what is typical for an independent contractor.

The rideshare service has compared itself to a trucking company, pointing to similarities in average earnings, driver requirements, and licensing. The truth, however, is that a CDL license is not required to become an Uber driver, and even more important is the fact that Uber drivers transport people rather than goods.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, courts have been receptive to Uber’s argument that it just provides an app and is not an employer. However, a closer look at the policies and procedures related to hiring, training, and terminating drivers seems to contradict this claim. Accident lawyers have pointed to Uber’s process of vetting drivers and to its training materials as proof that the company does far more than just provide an app and, therefore, courts should be able to impose respondeat superior concepts of liability.

For example, before hiring a driver, Uber investigates the applicant’s registration, driver’s license, insurance, and other details. Uber also provides comprehensive resources to help drivers fulfill the requirements of working for the rideshare service.

Accident attorneys are considering new ways to prove that Uber’s contracts and policies may demonstrate that the company assumes a duty to hire, supervise, and retain drivers; to ensure that vehicles are properly maintained; and to ensure that passengers are safe. Some of the strongest evidence to support this argument appears on Uber’s website. For instance, Uber has a passenger safety page on its site titled “Learn How Uber Keeps Riders and Drivers Safe.”

What to Do If You Were Injured in an Uber Accident

If you were injured in a crash involving an Uber vehicle—whether you were a passenger, a pedestrian, or another driver—the process of determining insurance liability is much more complicated than in a typical car accident claim. To discuss your case with a personal injury attorney, contact our office for a free initial consultation.

Call 800-522-6733 to speak with a Baton Rouge accident lawyer from Laborde Earles Law Firm.