The Shady Side of Rideshare, Part 2: Passenger Danger
This is the second of a two-part series on The Shady Side of Rideshare, which looks at safety concerns associated with Lyft and Uber. In our last post, we looked at driver safety in the rideshare industry; in this segment, we transition to passenger safety.
Although our focus is on the physical safety of passengers, recently, Uber announced that passenger and driver data had been breached in 2016! The company CEO explained that hackers accessed personal customer data and license numbers of drivers.
Uber is no stranger to bad publicity, as hundreds of crimes have been reported across the country from drivers and passengers. Uber and Lyft both maintain data of incidents of crimes and accidents, but do not publicize them. Despite the bad press, the industry is strong, as Uber boasts 40 million current monthly riders and adds over 150,000 new users per day in 570 cities internationally.
Recent Oklahoma Passenger Incidents
- A real estate broker in Oklahoma City said an Uber driver punched him in the face, causing injuries that required dental surgery and damages of greater than $75,000. Phillip Mazaheri brought suit against Tyler McEuin, the driver. A federal court dismissed claims against Uber; however, the suit remains open against McEuin for assault and battery. McEuin stated that Uber was unresponsive to his calls and began acting “deceptive.” He says that his training and support from Uber were insufficient. David Sutton, on behalf of Who’s Driving You, accuses rideshare companies of providing inadequate insurance and lacking safeguards. He says that ridesharing is dangerous and not properly regulated.
- A 62-year-old driver picked up a passenger in Tulsa. She passed out during the ride, and he is now accused of bringing her to his home and sexually assaulting her. Tulsa Police obtained a warrant and arrested him.
- A mother in Oklahoma has been warning others about children ordering rides from rideshare providers. Her pre-teen son obtained an Uber ride at 2:30 a.m. using her credit card. When the company was made aware of the incident, it removed the boy’s account.
In addition, Boston police are investigating a claim where an Uber driver refused to provide service to a legally blind couple. The driver allegedly saw their service dog and told them that dogs were prohibited before abruptly pulling away. The man, meanwhile, had his hand in the vehicle’s window in an effort to “feel his way” into the car. He was dragged for 15 feet and incurred injuries. Uber says the driver has been removed from service and that they do accommodate service animals in accordance with federal law. Further, Uber says their service is open to “everyone” without regard for gender, race, or disability and that all ride requests are matched and assigned to the closest driver.
Does Uber Have Insurance to Cover Hurt Passengers?
The current Uber auto insurance program is divided into three parts. It protects the driver and the company, mostly:
- The driver is logged into Uber’s app: When a driver is online awaiting a pick-up request, the company has insurance in effect to cover liability from third-parties. This is in addition to the driver’s own insurance policy and provides $50,000 in bodily injury coverage ($100,000 total per accident) and $25,000 for property damage. After an accident with an at-fault (non-Uber) driver, a claim is filed against his or her insurance.
- The driver is en route to pick up a rider: Here, the company provides liability, uninsured motorist, collision, and comprehensive coverage. This includes third-party crashes such as those involving other drivers or pedestrians. The coverage amount for bodily injury is $1 million.
- During a trip with passengers in the vehicle: This coverage is the same as when a driver is picking up a passenger; however, coverage is extended to include passengers. The uninsured motorist coverage applies when an at-fault driver does not have coverage, coverage is insufficient, or the accident is a hit-and-run.
Rideshare Passenger Safety Tips
If you plan to use a ride-hailing app like Uber or Lyft, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the safety features of the apps. The Uber app has a “share details” feature that you can send to others to alert them that you are making a trip; this provides driver contact info, license number, and destination. There is no need to share your phone number with drivers, as the Uber app makes it anonymous intentionally.
It is best to wait indoors until your driver arrives. Upon arrival, confirm that the vehicle, license plate, and driver match the one listed on the app. Never enter a vehicle based solely on a driver’s claim that he is an Uber or Lyft driver.
When riding alone, passengers should use the back seat, which allows them to exit from both sides of the vehicle. Always buckle your seatbelt in case of an accident. Do not hesitate to dial 911 in unsafe situations. (Uber does not have a hotline you can dial for unsafe drivers.)
After riding, provide driver feedback, which is reviewed by the company so any violations can be addressed.
If you’ve been victimized by a rideshare driver accident, we can help. The legal issues involved in filing a claim against Uber or Lyft and their drivers are numerous, but Car Accident Help has experience in untangling them and getting victims what they need to recover. Give us a call at (405) 285-4357 for a free consultation.
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