As Uber’s Legal Woes Continue, South Carolina Demands Mobile App Cease and Desist
On Thursday, January 15th, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina ordered popular and infamous ridesharing service Uber to stop its operations in the state.
Uber has faced numerous accusations, including personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, as the mobile app company expands rapidly across the globe. One of the most common accusations has to do with the company’s employee screening process: although Uber company spokespeople have repeatedly claimed that the rideshare startup company screens its potential drivers as thoroughly or even more thoroughly, than state regulations require, many passengers have said they were victimized. Allegations include assaults, such as sexual assaults and rapes, as well as other types of personal injury, and even wrongful death accidents. Many believe that these issues have arisen because the drivers are not screened carefully enough to keep passengers and pedestrians safe.
For example, Uber faces a wrongful death lawsuit in San Francisco, in which a driver who was using the mobile app to pick up a fare while operating his vehicle, struck and killed a 6-year-old girl on New Year’s Day 2014. He hit two other members of the family as well, who survived. The driver himself faces criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter and distracted driving, but the family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ridesharing company because they claim the mobile app nature of the business encourages drivers to use their phones while operating a vehicle. It’s this mobile nature that can be a deadly combination.
In Chicago, a 22-year-old victim has filed personal injury charges against the company after her Uber driver drugged and sexually assaulted her while she was drunk.
Ridesharing companies like Uber, and its major competitors Lyft and Sidecar, also face accusations that the businesses rely on individual drivers’ personal insurance, which does not provide adequate, if any, coverage for passengers that suffer personal injury in the event of a car crash. These companies recently changed their driver policies to pay for insurance to cover cars while they are working for the rideshare service, but some opponents of the ridesharing services question if the coverage is enough, when these companies still try to dodge responsibility for personal injuries and wrongful deaths, often pointing to the drivers themselves, who are independent contractors with the companies, not full employees.
South Carolina demanded that Uber cease and desist operations in the state because the company refuses to register as a taxi service, which could help customers and drivers in the event of a personal injury or wrongful death claim.
“Consumers benefit from, and deserve choices in, the marketplace,” the directive states. “However, those choices must be consistent with state law intended to protect the public.”
“Despite working closely with the PSC for the past several months on a permanent solution for Uber in South Carolina, today’s actions are unexpected and not reflective of the progress made thus far,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said. “We will challenge the order and remain committed to providing South Carolinians with greater opportunity and choice.”
Uber faces similar regulatory questions in its home base, San Francisco, as safety regulators in the city try to decide who can inspect Uber’s vehicles for safety and emissions regulations.
“We believe the vehicle inspections mentors conduct are very rigorous,” said Chelsea Wilson, a Lyft spokeswoman. “They’ve gone through training and have an exhaustive checklist. We very much stand behind the safety of those inspections.”
However, safety inspections for taxis are much more rigorous than the self-appointed inspectors for Uber and Lyft, so many states have raised concerns about vehicular safety.
The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Distracted Driving in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of an accident, whether it was caused by distracted driving or DUI, the South Carolina personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800