SC Orders Uber to Halt Services in State

As Uber’s Legal Woes Continue, South Carolina Demands Mobile App Cease and Desist

UberOn 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

Rideshare Services Don’t Do Proper Criminal Background Checks

criminal background check

Rideshare Services Accused of Failing Criminal Background Check Policies

criminal background checkAfter sweeping the United States and the world with its popularity, rideshare services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar now face accusations in their homestate – California – that the companies don’t conduct thorough enough criminal background checks, to prevent personal injury and car accidents.

The district attorneys of both San Francisco and Los Angeles said on Thursday, September 25th, that Sidecar Inc in particular, but other rideshare companies as well, have failed to conduct proper, thorough criminal background checks on their contract employee drivers in accordance with California business law.

The rideshare services have already encountered numerous accusations as they expanded across the country, hiring drivers in nearly every major city, including three cities in South Carolina. In particular, taxi companies have filed lawsuits against Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar for violating taxi company codes, which regulate drivers and their vehicles in the event of a car accident. Uber also faces a wrongful death lawsuit from a family in San Francisco, accusing the service of promoting distracted driving through the mobile app that helps drivers find fares. On New Year’s Day, this year, a driver in the city hit two children and their mother while the family crossed the street, killing a 6-year-old girl and injuring the other two victims.

In response, Uber and Lyft have both expanded their insurance coverage of drivers, but the companies have primarily hidden behind vague employment laws around contract employees, claiming their drivers much provide their own personal insurance because they use their personal vehicles, rather than specifically-labeled company provided taxis. The companies have also argued that they created a mobile app business, not a taxi company, and they cannot regulate how users interface with the smartphone app.

George Gascon, the district attorney of San Francisco, and Jackie Lacey, his counterpart in Los Angeles, filed a complaint against all three major rideshare companies, with a focus on Sidecar, stating that the companies mislead customers on how thoroughly they run criminal background checks. Without submitting employee drivers to criminal background checks, drivers with histories of felony DUI or assault and battery could become employees and find victims through the rideshare service.

According to Sunil Paul, the chief executive of Sidecar, he has already discussed the issue of background checks with local regulators, but he was surprised by the “sudden escalation” in concern in California. Mr. Paul said that his company runs thorough criminal background checks in accordance with the state’s law, but that Sidecar also cannot exclude potential employees if they were convicted of a felony seven years ago or more.

“We value innovation and new modes of providing service to the public,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “However, we need to make sure the safety and well-being of consumers are adequately protected in the process.”

The Strom Law Firm Helps 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 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