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Uber Accidents: A Closer Look

July 29, 2020

Currently, Uber drivers record over a billion rides per year. Many of these drivers are overly-dependent on GPS navigation aids. Although these gadgets are legal in California, they are also very distracting. Many people multitask their way through the day, but multitasking behind the wheel is a very bad idea.

Under California law, Uber drivers and other rideshare operators are common carriers. These people transport people for a fare. As such, they have a very high duty of care. According to the California Civil Code, Uber drivers “must use the utmost care and diligence for their [passengers’] safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.”

That high duty of care makes it easier for a Los Angeles Uber crash lawyer to establish negligence, or a lack of care. If a lack of care caused the crash, accident victims might be entitled to substantial compensation.

What Causes Ridesharing Accidents?

As mentioned, distracted driving causes a number of ridesharing crashes. Distracted driving is an umbrella term which includes any of the following:

  • Cognitive distraction (taking one’s mind off driving),
  • Visual distraction (taking one’s eyes off the road), and
  • Manual distraction (taking one’s hand off the wheel).

Many ridesharing drivers use hand-held navigation devices. These gadgets combine all three forms of distracted driving. Hands-free devices are not any safer. They are visually and cognitively distracting. Plus, they give drivers a false sense of security. At least operators who use hand-held devices know they are distracted.

Other forms of distracted driving include talking to passengers while driving and eating or drinking while driving. Most Uber drivers are guilty of these behaviors at one time or another.

Vicarious Liability Issues

Typically, personal auto insurance policies do not cover commercial losses. So, even if the negligent Uber driver had insurance, it probably will not apply to ridesharing damages.

Fortunately, the Golden State has a very broad respondeat superior rule. This legal doctrine holds employers, like Uber, vicariously liable for the negligent acts of their employees, such as their drivers.

For workers’ compensation and other purposes, Uber drivers may or may not be Uber employees. But for negligence purposes, Uber drivers are definitely employees. If the employer controls the worker in any meaningful way, the worker is an employee in this context.

Additionally, any act which benefits the employer in any way is sufficient to trigger the respondeat superior rule. That includes driving an empty ridesharing car around town, if that vehicle has an Uber logo.

Uber crash victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.

Picture Credit: Timtempleton / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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