There are well over one million rideshare drivers throughout the United States. When there are so many drivers, there is always a chance some of them will break the law. You never quite know who you are trusting with your health and well-being. In general, you are trusting rideshare companies such as Uber to screen the people who drive under its name properly.
Although Uber has strict rules against drunk driving, there are always times when your Uber driver may have drank alcohol before or during their shift. You can always sue the driver when you have been injured in an Uber drunk driving accident. The Coral Gables, Florida, rideshare accident lawyers at Maderal Byrne & Furst PLLC can review your case to see if there is additional action that you may take against Uber.
Uber’s Zero Tolerance Policy Against Drunk Driving
Uber claims to have a “zero tolerance” policy that will ban a driver who has been found to be drinking or using drugs on the job. Uber is not generally required to have its employees submit to drug and alcohol testing.
However, the company must promptly investigate and respond to complaints of its drivers being drunk. The company has not always followed this requirement.
California fined Uber $750,000 for failing to adhere to its own “zero tolerance” policy. The company did not even investigate a number of complaints of drunk driving.
What to Do When Your Uber Driver Has Been Drinking
If you suspect that your Uber driver has been drinking, you should do the following:
- End the ride immediately by using the app on your phone
- Call 911 to report the drunk driver to authorities
- Contact Uber to let them know that your driver was drunk
Uber’s Rules Against Drunk Driving
Uber claims to have very strict rules against drunk driving, even when it is on the driver’s own personal time. Before one can drive for Uber, they must undergo a background check and a review of their motor vehicle record.
Uber’s policy is that anyone who has a drunk driving conviction within the past seven years is not eligible to drive for the company. The only way that one could drive for Uber with any evidence of drunk driving on their record is if the charges have been dismissed.
Uber should also perform a yearly background check on its drivers. This way, if a driver is convicted of a DUI while already driving for Uber, they should be banned.
There have been instances in which Uber did not properly perform the background checks required. For example, Uber was fined $8.9 million by the State of Colorado because its background checks failed to spot numerous drivers with felony convictions or special licenses required of those who were recently convicted of drunk driving. Passengers who were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers have sued the company for inadequate background checks.
Who Can You Sue for an Uber Drunk Driving Accident?
In general, it would be the Uber driver personally who is liable for your injuries in the crash.
Uber does maintain an insurance policy of $1 million per accident for its drivers. In addition, the driver may have purchased extra insurance to protect them from being liable for any judgment that the insurance policy does not cover.
You can still sue a drunk driver civilly, independent of the criminal justice process. It does not matter whether the driver is ultimately convicted of the crime because there are two different standards of proof.
In a civil lawsuit, you only need to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence, which numerically equates to a 51% chance that your facts are true.
Usually, the general rule is that you cannot sue Uber for accidents caused by its drivers. The company classifies its drivers as independent contractors, both because it does not want to pay employee benefits and assume liability for accidents.
Can Your Lawyer Help You Sue Someone Besides the Uber Driver?
Uber tries to make it as hard as possible for you to sue them, and for the most part, they are successful. However, Uber cannot insulate itself from every lawsuit, especially when the company does not meet its own legal obligations.
Suing Uber for negligence
There are several legal theories that might apply to hold Uber liable for damages caused by its drivers. For example, those companies that hire independent contractors still have an obligation to check the backgrounds of the people it hires and to let them go if there are serious safety violations.
Even though you cannot sue a company for the actions of its independent contractors, in most cases, you can sue them on grounds of negligent hiring and retention. If Uber did not perform an adequate background check that would have detected drunk driving convictions, they can be liable in a lawsuit.
Suing under Florida’s dram shop laws
In addition, you may be able to sue an establishment that served alcohol to the Uber driver under Florida’s Dram shop laws. You can hold someone responsible when they “knowingly serve a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.”
If a liquor store or bar knows that someone has a drinking problem and they continue to sell them alcohol, they can be liable for damages that the person causes.
For example, if an Uber driver showed up at a liquor store every other day and bought an entire bottle of alcohol or a case of beer, and the store knew that they were selling alcohol regularly to the same person, they could be liable.
Contact a Coral Gables Rideshare Accident Attorney
When you have been injured in an accident with a drunk Uber driver, you need tough legal representation to maximize your financial compensation. The Uber accident attorneys at Maderal Byrne & Furst are experienced litigators with a track record of making responsible parties, and their insurance companies pay you fairly. To schedule your free initial consultation, you can send us a message online or call us today at (305) 520-5690.