The New York Times reports Uber lawyers are racing to clean up the company before it goes public amid anticipation of the release of an audit containing past complaints from passengers of sexual assault by ride-sharing drivers.
More than 200 sexual misconduct cases were reported to the company in 2017. Uber is just 10 years old this year and yet is expected to go public with a valuation of more than $120 billion. Such growth has come with many, many growing pains, some of which have been self inflicted as the company has aggressively marketed its services, moved against taxi companies in many of the nation’s largest metro markets, and reduced liability by categorizing drivers as independent contractors.
As our Uber injury lawyers in Southwest Florida reported last year, more than 100 Uber drivers have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers. More than 30 drivers have been criminally convicted and dozens of others are facing criminal or civil charges. In fact, we have been writing about the company since 2015, when we reported Uber was being sued for misrepresenting driver safety to the public.
The ride-sharing giant has since raised more than $22 billion in private funding and is operating in more than 600 U.S. cities as it prepares to become a public company.
Uber Injury & Ride-Sharing Liability
The good news for those involved in a traffic accident, or otherwise injured while using a ride-sharing service, is that both Uber and Lyft have agreed to carry significant injury liability insurance. Under pressure from regulators, Uber agreed to carry limits of $50,000/$100,000, which increases to at least $1 million while traveling with a paid fare or traveling to a pickup request. So our Uber injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral know determining status of the ride-share driver at the time of a collision can have significant impact on what insurance coverage is available. Whether a driver was available but not engaged ($50,000/$100,000) on his way to pick up a passenger ($1 million) or traveling on his own time (driver’s private policy), can significantly impact a victim’s ability to collect damages.
Aside from the risks of traffic accidents, sexual assault has become a serious issue as driver background checks have frequently proved inadequate and many passengers use the service for a safe ride home while intoxicated. In Florida, ‘Sexual Battery’ is defined as any oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or union with the sexual organ of another, or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object, excluding reasonable medical procedures (§794.011, F.S.).
Whether criminal charges are filed is always a separate issue from whether victims have a civil case. Consulting with an experienced law firm will offer the best chance of protecting your rights and preserving your claim. Uber, in particular, has been aggressive in defending itself on numerous legal fronts.
Crain’s New York Business reports Uber recently gave up the fight over whether it had to contribute to unemployment payments for drivers in New York State. The company dropped an appeal of a twice-upheld decision that it owed three drivers benefits. But court watchers say the decision has much bigger implications as the New York State Department of Labor conducts an audit to determine what the company owes in benefits for drivers who had been classified as independent contractors. A driver’s status as an employee or independent contractor can also impact civil claims.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.