What Do I Do If I Was in an Uber Accident?
Accidents involving Uber and Lyft drivers are complicated. These transportation companies take the position that their drivers are not employees. They are independent contractors. They take the view that they are not liable for the negligent actions of their driver. We have fought these issues and succeeded.
EMPLOYER LIABILITY FOR THE ACTS OF THE DRIVER
California has a law that states that an employer is liable for the negligent acts of an employee that occur during employment. If an employee is working and causes an accident, the employer is responsible.
Independent contractors are different than employees. An independent contractor is a person or entity contracted to perform work for—or provide services to—another entity or person. Independent contractors run their own business. The person who hires an independent contractor does
not control the contractor’s work. Independent contractors set their hours.
They must pay their own Social Security and Medicare taxes. A person or entity who hires an independent contractor is not liable for the independent contractor’s negligent acts.
As an example, a homeowner hires a plumber to fix a broken pipe. The plumber leaves some of his tools on the sidewalk, which causes a person to trip and fall suffering injury. The homeowner would not be responsible for the negligent acts of the plumber because the plumber was working as an independent contractor.
ARE UBER/LYFT DRIVERS EMPLOYEES?
We believe they are. Uber/Lyft takes the position that its drivers are not employees. Uber typically argues that it is only a technology company and not a transportation company. Uber further contends that its drivers essentially own and operate their own business and are therefore independent contractors. The law that determines if a person is an independent contractor is very complicated. The courts look at a variety of factors and facts to determine if a driver is an employee or not.
As an example, courts have held that cab, and delivery drivers are employees because the companies could not survive without the drivers.
To date, neither Uber or Lyft have taken a case to a jury to decide if their drivers are independent contractors. We believe a jury would resolve the issue against Uber/Lyft, which is why Uber and Lyft are reluctant to go to trial.
COMMON CAUSES OF UBER/LYFT ACCIDENTS
We have found that a common cause of accidents is driver inattention or distraction. A driver may be so preoccupied with navigating that he takes his eyes off the road. Another reason is driving at an unsafe speed because drivers have an incentive to maximize the number of fares. An Uber/Lyft driver might be found at fault even if his or her driving did not cause the accident. We have found that a driver could be held responsible for a passenger’s failure to wear a seat belt. California mandates that each person in a car wears a seat belt. It is the responsibility of the driver to make sure everyone is buckled up. We have found that in some cases, the Uber driver fails to ensure his passengers use seat belts. The driver may be liable if the passenger suffers a more significant injury than the passenger would have sustained if buckled.
As an example, a seat-belted passenger may only suffer a neck sprain in a car collision. However, an un-belted driver may sustain a significant head injury causing trauma to the brain.
Resolving a case against Uber or Lyft is challenging. In addition to proving the driver was at fault, an accident victim must also show the driver was an employee of Uber/Lyft. We know how to prosecute these claims so we can achieve a fair resolution for your case. Schedule a free consultation.