For decades, there was really only one semi-private and affordable mode of transportation available to the general public, and that was the taxicab. Few people ever thought that the options regarding getting around in this fashion would expand. In 2009, that expansion began to occur when a company known as Uber was founded. Two years later, Sidecar came to market. One year after that, options expanded again when Lyft came into existence. Suddenly, Californians in particular had competition in the ride sharing space. Unfortunately, Californians also soon began to find out that being involved in an Uber accident as a passenger led to several serious problems.
Few people think about the way a business is classified when they climb into a taxicab, an Uber vehicle or a Lyft ride for help getting to their destination. The fact of the matter is that this is a critical piece of information. Taxi companies are classified as transportation companies. This brings about an entirely different set of regulations and requirements in cities around California for them than what tends to exist with regards to Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others. These companies want to be classified as ride-matching services or tech platforms. This allows them to skirt many of the regulations faced by taxicab companies. That can affect a consumer who is injured in an Uber accident.
Generally speaking, taxicab drivers in California are employees of their taxi companies. There are exceptions, but this is the norm. That is not the case with Uber, Sidecar, Lyft and other ride sharing services. Those drivers tend to be independent contractors. This means that if someone is involved in an Uber accident that he or she may be forced to pursue recovery from the individual driver. The ride sharing company may be able to avoid liability in certain circumstances.
When someone downloads the Uber app or an app for a different ride sharing service, they are technically agreeing to the Terms of Service that go along with using that app. Terms of Service appear constantly on our computer screens and our phones, and unfortunately most people have become accustomed to all but ignoring them by simply hitting the ‘Agree’ button and moving on to the next step without thinking about it. That can be a real problem for someone who is injured in an Uber accident, as that company’s Terms of Service present strong language intended to shield them from liability if someone is injured in a crash caused by one of their drivers.
One of the best ways for consumers to evaluate any transportation company is to analyze the crash statistics that are available. That’s yet another problem with regards to Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and others – there is very little if any crash data available to the public. That’s because, once again, since these companies are not classified in the same way as taxicab companies, they do not face the same regulations. Therefore, it’s very difficult if not impossible to find data relating to any Uber accident or crash involving the driver of any other ride sharing service. That makes it very difficult for the public at large to understand what they are getting into regarding safety.
If you have been involved in an Uber accident, you should not take the information above to mean that you are without legal rights and options. You should simply use it to be aware that there are aspects of your arrangement with a ride sharing company that could become all too relevant if you are injured in a crash. In this situation, you need to have the incident evaluated by an experienced Uber accident lawyer who understands these intricacies and how to successfully pursue justice on behalf of clients. If this has happened to you, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.
Posted in: Motor Vehicle Accidents
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