What Can I Do if I’m Hurt Because My Uber or Lyft Driver Was Behind the Wheel of an Unsafe Vehicle?

Recently, news stories have highlighted many different potential safety issues with rideshare services like Uber or Lyft. These issues can include things like the service’s failure to weed out people who are unsafe drivers and failure to weed out people who are dangerous individuals (such as sexual predators.)

The potential safety issues don’t stop there, though. As a recently article in Wired.com pointed out, rideshare riders have to worry, not only about their drivers being safe, but about the safety of the vehicles carrying them. The Consumer Federation of America estimates that there are roughly 70 million vehicles on U.S. roads that have unrepaired safety recall issues, according to Wired. In other words, any time you ride with Lyft or Uber, you may be riding in a recalled car. If that’s true and you’re hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation, so you should reach out to an experienced Chicago car accident attorney to learn more about your legal options.

The problem of unrepaired recalled vehicles is fairly widespread. Part of that is because the volume of recalls is quite large. General Motors recently issued a sweeping recall due to defective ignition switches and another large one recently for vehicle with airbags made by a certain manufacturer. Given that NHTSA statistics show that fewer than 60 percent of recalled vehicles were fixed, it is easy to see how tens of millions of unrepaired recalled cars could be on U.S. roads.

At least one group, the Center for Auto Safety, requested Uber, Lyft and two other rideshare services become more pro-active in keeping their users out of unrepaired vehicles or, at least, giving users knowledge and a choice, according to Wired. Katz Friedman believes that driver and passenger safety is enhanced with a partition. See: www.ridesharesafetypartition.com. We urge all drivers to consider installing such a partition and all passengers to begin insisting on such a partition for their safety!

Dangers included detaching seatbelts, total engine failures and vehicle fires

Back in the spring, Consumer Reports reported that 1 of every 6 Uber or Lyft vehicles in New York City and Seattle was subject to a recall and unrepaired. According to that report, some issues were comparatively harmless (like a malfunctioning light bulb,) but others were definitely not. These serious issues included “potential seat-belt detachment” “possible engine failure” and the “potential for vehicles to catch fire.”

Historically, Uber and Lyft have taken “only minor steps to ensure open recalls are addressed, leaving the onus primarily on drivers,” according to Consumer Reports.

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft rely on the status of their contractual relationship with their drivers to avoid many types of liability, especially when it comes to vicarious liability. The rideshare services have asserted that, because their drivers are independent contractors, the drivers and the drivers alone are responsible when an accident happens and the rider is injured.
However, there may be legal options for injured rideshare customers to seek compensation from the service itself. If an injured rider had sufficient evidence to present an argument (and persuade a jury) that the rideshare service’s protocols for identifying unsafe vehicles was unreasonably weak and that, as a result, the rideshare customer was subjected to a vehicle that the service knew or should have known was unreasonably dangerous, then the rider could possibly be entitled to negligence damages based upon the service’s direct liability.

Everyone understands that there are certain risks anytime one is a passenger in a vehicle that’s on the Chicago area’s roads and highways. Getting hurt because your Uber or Lyft driver was behind the wheel of an unsafe vehicle shouldn’t be one of them. If that happens to you, you may have legal options to receive compensation to cover the losses you’ve suffered. The experienced Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca are here to help you in that situation, offering clear and helpful advice along with strong and effective advocacy. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.