Liability Issues in Uber/Ridesharing Claims

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In just a few short years, Uber has expanded to almost forty million rides per month in the United States alone. A significant number of these drivers over-rely on GPS navigation and other devices, so they often have one eye on a gadget and one eye on the road.

If an Uber or other rideshare driver causes a crash, a Rock Hill personal injury attorney could obtain substantial compensation for victims. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, including medical bills, and noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might also be available, in some cases if the driver was reckless.

Duty of Care in Commercial Driver Claims

Negligence cases usually begin with a legal duty. If a person breaches a duty of care and causes injury, that person is liable for damages.

Most non-commercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. 

However, ridesharing drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, and other drivers who transport people or cargo for a fee are common carriers. Since these individuals are professional drivers, they may have a higher duty of care under the law.

So, ridesharing operators must be extra careful. Distracted driving, which was mentioned above, is a good example. 

Third-Party Liability

South Carolina has one of the lowest auto insurance requirements in the country. So, in a catastrophic injury wreck, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) might not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation.

Fortunately, South Carolina also has some of the broadest vicarious liability laws in the country. In other words, in many cases, the negligent driver is not the only party responsible for damages.

Respondeat superior (“let the master answer”) is a good example. This legal doctrine holds ridesharing companies and other such companies liable for the negligent acts of their drivers. Respondeat superior has two major prongs:

  • Employee: If the company controls the driver, perhaps in terms of the route traveled or riders picked up, that person is normally an employee for negligence purposes, even if the driver is technically an independent contractor.
  • Scope of Employment: Similarly, any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment. That includes something like driving an empty car to a pickup point.

Other employer liability theories, which often come up in nursing home abuse and other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent entrustment.

Uber crashes are legally complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Rock Hill uber accident attorney, contact The Elrod Pope Accident & Injury Attorneys, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

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