I dove into the Uber controversy a few months ago. I had been debating it with friends when the Kalamazoo murders happened. Everyone loves Uber but no one could explain what happens when something goes wrong.
It comes down to liability. It costs money because if you have the liability, you need insurance to cover it.
Taxis cost more than Uber rides because of this. There’s livery vehicle insurance, there’s workplace insurance, there’s the liability that the taxi company assumes when getting you from point A to point B safely. Uber offers none of that. Taxi’s charge you for that.
Uber says it’s drivers are contractors and that Uber is not a transportation company or provider, but just a transportation facilitator.
They want to remove themselves from all liability if something goes wrong. But a US judge disagrees.
Two female plaintiffs have joined their cases and are going after Uber. The first, from Boston, was grabbed and groped by an Uber driver but got out of the car safely and ran to a friends before calling the police. Her driver was ultimately arrested. The other plaintiff was in a group uber ride in Florida, and after dropping off her friends the driver turned into a parking lot, locked the doors, broke her phone and violently raped her. He has also been arrested.
In both cases Uber is saying they are not liable in any way. The judge found a case from the 1950’s where a woman was raped on a Pullman commuter train by the conductor, and Pullman were found liable for the conductor’s actions while in travel. She is using that as precedent.
Uber argued that if their App isn’t active they can’t be liable for a person’s actions. The judge seemed to concede to this, so if the case sticks this could be the key data point going forward: if the Uber app is on, or if you share a vehicle with someone based on the Uber app, Uber might be held accountable.
Should be an interesting case as it plays out. As far as Uber, sometimes when things appear too good to be true it’s because they are.