The advent of a global ride-hailing app is probably one of the most ingenious innovations of the last 10 years. It has radically altered the ride-sharing business, disrupted the cab-industry and possibly, renewed car ownership interest for people in big cities who rely on public transportation to get them to their destinations. Personal injury lawyer, Peter Zneimer notes that while the convenience of having a ride at the click of a button cannot be beat, the question of safety is always a topical discussion, not only between passengers and drivers but also for personal injury attorneys due to the question of liability.
Uber, though faced with strong competition in the face of Lyft, is still the biggest player out there and has come under fire lately for the way it has addressed safety issues. Both passengers and drivers alike share an understandable apprehension of the ride-sharing app despite the convenience. UberPool, a service introduced as a way to reduce fares by allowing two or more passengers travelling in the same direction to share one Uber vehicle, is under controversy for the number of high-risk incidents associated with it. One particular incident reported in the Chicago Tribune on April 5, 2017, highlights the hazards of ride-sharing with complete strangers. Twenty-five year old Jennifer Camacho called for UberPool on January 30, 2017 and was the second of two pick-ups. According to Ms. Camacho, as soon as she got inside the UberPool vehicle, “the passenger in the front seat allegedly turned around and began slashing Camacho with a 3-inch blade”. Camacho incurred wounds to her face and is likely to be scarred for life. Camacho with the help of her attorneys sued Uber for at least $50,000 in damages for negligence. Uber’s insurance company denied coverage because the incident was not considered an auto accident.
This incident is just one too many being reported nationwide, prompting the question: What is Uber doing to address the issue of safety concerns? From a legal standpoint, it seems fair to argue that Uber does have a duty to protect both its employers (drivers) and passengers who can be victims in cases that are not auto accidents but in circumstances far more insidious than a regular rear-ender, such as the Camacho case. The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer believe that since Uber has control of who its drivers pick-up, the drivers have the duty to do all they can to ensure the safety of their customers after they have entered their vehicle.