In a recent ruling, a federal judge threw out an injured Uber passenger’s lawsuit claim that Uber was negligent in its hiring of the driver who caused his injuries. While that is not good news for the passenger, there is a silver lining. The judge allowed the injured man to re-file at a later date and also provided some key knowledge for this passenger and, potentially, for other injured in accidents caused by Uber or Lyft drivers. Suing Uber or Lyft and winning isn’t easy. To make sure you are pursuing your case in the most effective way possible, be sure that you have an experienced Chicago injury attorney working for you.
According to the injured passenger, J.F., his night of December 22, 2016 unfolded as follows: he entered an Uber vehicle in Philadelphia and told the driver he wished to travel to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The driver refused. The passenger, aware that Uber policy doesn’t allow “a driver to refuse a trip after learning where the customer wants to travel,” didn’t leave and repeated his demand to ride to New Jersey. The driver got out, came around to the passenger side of the vehicle, pulled the passenger out, threw him to the ground and proceeded to kick and beat him, causing the passenger to suffer multiple broken bones and teeth.
As a result of those injuries, the passenger sued Uber. One of the claims that the passenger made in that lawsuit was that Uber was negligent in hiring the driver who beat him. The trial court eventually dismissed that claim, but the judge allowed the injured man to pursue additional discovery and re-file the negligent hiring claim later once he acquired more evidence.
Specifically, the court explained that, in order to have a successful case of negligent hiring, a plaintiff must show that the hiring entity knew or was on notice of an employment applicant’s potential for misconduct, but that the hiring entity “nevertheless hired the individual and so exposed the plaintiff to danger.” Negligent retention works in a similar way, the court explained. In that scenario, the plaintiff needs proof that the employer negligently failed to terminate an existing worker even after learning about (or being placed on notice of) the worker’s potential for dangerous misconduct.
In either situation, an injured plaintiff needs evidence showing that the worker had history of bad acts that the hiring entity either knew about or should have known about. The judge dismissed J.F.’s negligent hiring claim (while permitting him to re-raise it later,) because he did not yet have the needed evidence related to past incidents of misconduct by the driver.
Acquiring proof of a past history of misconduct is key
You may be able to succeed in your injury action against Uber or Lyft in a similar fashion. Say, for example, you were hurt in an accident in which an Uber/Lyft driver was found to have been driving recklessly. If the driver had a history of incidents in which he was cited and/or arrested for reckless driving before Uber/Lyft contracted with him, and the rideshare company hired him anyway, then you might have a successful case of negligent hiring. If the driver accumulated those citations/arrests for reckless driving while contracted with the rideshare entity and was not terminated, then you might a viable claim of negligent retention.
In other words, you have options – and exactly what those options are depends on the specific facts of your situation. To get the advice you need about your circumstance, talk to the knowledgeable Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck. Our attorneys have been helping people injured in auto accident for many years in getting fair compensation. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.