How Safe is Your Uber or Van Driver?

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Murderous Uber Driver Shows Failure to Do Adequate Background Checks

An Uber driver went on a horrifying killing spree while driving around Kalamazoo, Michigan Saturday night. The lunatic driver even picked up a family in between his gunfire. Six people were killed and two remain critically injured.The man had only driven for Uber for a month.This sounds straight out of a horror movie, doesn’t it?

Car-hailing accidents are not unusual

The possibility of being injured by a dangerous driver like this is not isolated to Michigan, nor does it only happen with Uber, Super Shuttle, Lyft or other services. 

In July a Dallas Uber driver was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger. The Uber background check failed to uncover assault and weapons charges for which the driver had previously spent 6 ½ years in prison. Uber executives promised to do better background checks but clearly have failed miserably at that.

Yellow Cab driver lost control and flipped her vehicle, seriously injuring her passenger several years ago. The driver was still allowed to drive even after being in three previous wrecks and racking up numerous traffic citations, and she continued driving until she hit a pedestrian in 2012. 

Being in an Uber wreck is different from other car accidents

With more and more people blithely hopping into cars driven by total strangers, the number of crashes has increased. But these accident cases can be difficult and require special attention and skill.

For starters, these drivers are legally considered “independent contractors” with Uber claiming that it just provides the technology to distance the company from liability.

If you are involved in a crash, there is no way to contact Uber by phone. There is no information about what to do after an accident on its web site. Uber has no customer service number, merely an email address, and it is known for not responding to complaints.

Until recently, no insurance money was offered to drivers who were injured while driving.

Fortunately, public pressure has forced Uber to insure passengers for an additional one million dollars on top of the driver’s own liability policy. However getting either of those companies to pay is not easy.

Greater oversight of ride sharing drivers needed

Most of the time, companies like Uber offer a very safe form of transportation. In fact, responsible people who have been drinking alcohol often rely on taxis to drive them safely home. I willingly paid for my daughter’s Uber rides at night during college at SMU just a few years ago.

However, you literally climb into a car with a stranger whenever you take a cab. You take a leap of faith that the driver has a clean criminal and driving record, will obey traffic laws, is not high on drugs, won’t text while driving and will get you home without incident. If an accident does occur, the taxi company should have a policy limit that fully covers your damages.

DFW cabs must raise their liability limits For passengers they injure

These factors in your ride home should be givens, not a leap of faith. DFW ordinances need to put passenger safety first by mandating that cab and ride-share companies conduct extensive background checks and by enforcing this requirement through random and frequent investigation. 

Although, Dallas recently raised mandatory minimum policy limits for for-hire vehicles, the $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident limits are still not enough if the driver causes a serious or catastrophic crash.

If you or someone you know has been injured while riding in a shared transportation vehicle, you should contact a Texas personal Injury attorney immediately. This will insure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. 

At Berenson Injury Law, we have been fighting to help our clients recover their damages for 35 years, long before Uber was conceived in 2009.


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