Close your eyes and imagine this. It’s New Year's Eve and you and your two children are traveling in a crosswalk in the vibrant and transient city of San Francisco. You’re heading to your grandmother’s residence to bring in the New Year with loved ones. However, unbeknownst to you and your family, an inattentive Uber driver is about to cross your path. The driver carelessly and violently strikes you and your children while traveling in the crosswalk. He tragically kills your innocent six-year-old daughter and causes considerable and debilitating injuries to you, resulting in medical bills exceeding $500,000. Uber, a Transportation Network Company (TNC), immediately denies liability asserting, “our hearts go out to the family and victims of the accident that occurred in downtown San Francisco last night … we can confirm that this tragedy did not involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system.” Envision a law where the hiring entity, like Uber or some other TNC, directly benefits from the drivers on their network but is shielded from liability and risks associated with those benefits. Unfortunately, the above-described tragedy occurred in San Francisco on December 31, 2013, which resulted in the death of six-year-old Sofia Liu.
Are Ride-Sharing Companies Ensuring Safety for All?
“Uber is committed to safely connecting riders and drivers.” https://www.uber.com/us/en/safety/. Inherent in Uber’s statement presents an irreconcilable enigma. Many legislatures across the nation have enacted regulations governing the use of electronic wireless communication devices, including those that obstruct or reduce drivers’ view. In direct conflict, TNC has instituted a digital platform and business model requiring drivers to communicate with prospective passengers via mobile devices. These companies accept passengers’ requests by actively interacting with their mobile device, manually entering the destination address, and terminating the ride request upon arriving at a destination in a text-like manner. Their business models are designed to distract drivers and, as a consequence, could create significant risks, including bodily harm and death. At Bertoldo, Baker, Carter, Smith & Cullen we are waiting to hear state legislatures make sense of the newly enacted Transportation Network Companies’ law and already-existing laws regarding the use of electronic devices while driving.
How Are Accidents Covered?
At BBC&S, we feel ride-sharing companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar should assume any and all liabilities from a driver’s negligence or reckless conduct. We believe this due to the innate dangers tied to Transportation Network Companies’ business models, and the benefits derived from these risks. There have been extensive debates regarding Transportation Network Companies’ insurance coverage and its applicability when a driver has a passenger in the vehicle as opposed to a driver not having a passenger in the vehicle but being logged into the digital network.
Under current Nevada law, all ride-sharing companies are required to carry $1,500,000 in liability insurance when there is a passenger in the vehicle but only $50,000 per person liability insurance when the driver is logged into the network but has yet to pick up a passenger. The disparity between the two insurance coverage limits is quite drastic. To bring it to life, if the same San Francisco catastrophe occurred in Nevada, unfortunately, the victim’s family would only recover a maximum of $50,000 to compensate for the death of the six-year-old. So, the question follows: is the insurance coverage adequate in the event of bodily injury or death?
How We Can Help
If you have been injured, it is important to seek legal advice immediately. Our Las Vegas accident lawyer welcome your call today at (702) 505-8115 for a free initial consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.