Is Uber Liable for Their Drivers?
Is Uber liable for their drivers’ negligent actions? People who have been in crashes or had other bad experiences with Uber drivers think so. But Uber is able to avoid liability for its drivers’ actions because it classifies drivers as independent contractors, not employees. This means Uber doesn’t have to pay employment taxes for drivers or provide them with workers’ comp or other benefits. The company’s low labor costs and low driver wages are part of the reason the company is worth billions of dollars. This arrangement is certainly beneficial to Uber. It isn’t favorable, though, for innocent people who need a ride and are harmed by driver negligence or other wrongdoing.
Passengers Seek to Hold Uber Responsible for Its Drivers’ Actions
Some passengers have sued Uber in spite of the company’s trying to avoid responsibility. These lawsuits allege that an actual employer-employee relationship does exist between Uber and its drivers.
In 2018, a Montgomery County woman filed a lawsuit against Uber after she was left by a driver on the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. She alleged that the Uber driver who picked her up for a ride to the airport appeared intoxicated and forced her to exit the car on the highway. As a result, the woman had to walk a quarter of a mile with her luggage and call for a taxi ride. She missed her flight that morning.
The woman complained to Uber, but the company only offered her a ride credit. It didn’t refund what she paid for the ride. Uber also didn’t compensate her for the $41.05 she paid in tolls and fines during the ride before she was kicked out of the car. The Uber driver did not have an E-Z Pass, so the passenger had voluntarily paid these things.
Uber Does Little or Nothing for Wronged Passengers
When an Uber driver is accused of wrongdoing, the company typically responds by terminating the driver. But they do little or nothing to compensate passengers for their trouble. Despite being sued hundreds of times, including in car accident cases, Uber has managed to avoid accountability in almost every instance. That needs to change.
Forcing Uber to Reclassify Drivers as Employees
Drivers themselves and various governments are trying to get the company to reclassify drivers as employees. If they are reclassified, Uber will be liable for negligent accidents caused by drivers, as well as for other driver wrongdoing.
Drivers have filed various reclassification class-action lawsuits against the company, in numerous states. A national class action has also been filed against the company that said Uber illegally classified drivers as independent contractors.
In a big blow for Uber, California has decided that Uber drivers are employees of the company. The state enacted AB5 that set the stage to classify Uber drivers (and Lyft drivers) as employees. But the battle continues in getting the company to comply. Most recently, Uber has threatened to stop operating in the state if forced to make drivers employees. Oregon’s labor commissioner also issued an advisory opinion that says under state law Uber drivers are employees.
Uber is also fighting a ruling in the United Kingdom that said Uber drivers are employees. That battle is now headed to the U.K.’s Supreme Court. Uber also lost its license to operate in London because of its weak background-check process. Canada’s Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of drivers. The ruling opens the way for a class-action lawsuit to force Uber to make drivers in Canada employees.
Lawsuits have been filed in the United States against Uber over its poor background-check process. A 2017 class-action lawsuit filed by two women who say they were assaulted by Uber drivers alleged the company’s lax background checks have resulted in numerous cases of women being raped or assaulted. The suit also alleges Uber actively fought against state efforts to impose stricter background check requirements.
Uber Should be Held Responsible for Harm Drivers Cause
The existing legal challenges to how Uber conducts its business could have far-reaching impacts for both drivers and passengers. The company should be held accountable for its drivers and for any harm, injuries, or damage they cause in the course of their work.
Get Help from a Philadelphia Uber Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been harmed in an Uber crash, our car accident lawyers in Philadelphia are here to hold the company accountable. We will review your case and advise you about whether Uber, the Uber driver or a driver of another vehicle may be liable. In some cases, more than one party may be at fault. Call our law firm at (215) 569-0900 to arrange a free consultation about your case.