Lawsuit over injury from airborne fire hydrant tests Uber’s insurance practices

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Gushing for Uber
Image courtesy of Leslie Straw, via Twitter @lastraw
A hydrant hit by a private taxi operating in partnership with Uber was sent flying, leaving this geyser pouring at over Divisadero street.

Uber's policy on insuring its drivers will soon be taken for a test drive, as the company that runs the mobile app-based ride requesting service and a driver were served with a court summons last week from a woman severely injured after a crash near a San Francisco intersection.

Those insurances policies were said to meet brand new regulatory requirements on rideshare services introduced by the California Public Utilities Commission on July 30, which was meant to solve the longtime regulatory battle between rideshare services and local governments.

The plaintiff in the suit, Claire Farhbach, was a bystander, not a customer, and that unique twist in the injury suit has experts from the taxi industry waiting to see if Uber will step up to the plate to pay for Farhbach’s injuries, or if Uber will leave driver Djamol Gafurov on the hook for the bill.

Fahrbach was walking up Divisadero street near Hayes at quarter of midnight March 12 when Gafurov’s black town car, operating as a private taxi, collided with another car on Divisadero while turning left. One of the cars then collided with a fire hydrant, and in the words of the civil suit, "this impact caused the fire hydrant to be violently sheared from its base and propelled through the air a number of feet northbound...when the fire hydrant struck (Farhbach) with a tremendous amount of force."

The hydrant flew 81 feet from its original position, according to the police report.

The suit notes that Fahrbach sustained lacerations to her body, a fracture in her lower leg, and multiple herniated discs that “more likely than not will require surgical intervention in her future.”

Gafurov’s private taxi was operating as a “partner” of Uber, which is how the company defines its relationship to the network of drivers on its website. No private taxis or drivers are considered to be employees of Uber, as the company has repeatedly maintained. Uber provides software that lets passengers connect with drivers, like a digital dispatch, and the ridesharing service then takes a cut of the fare.

The image above is a modified police report from the fire hydrant incident, with numbers added: 1) site of the initial collision 2) where the vehicle hit the fire hydrant 3) where the hydrant hit Farhbach.

Yet that distinction has made their insurance liabilities nebulous, and local officials have taken notice. Officials at SFO last week started arresting rideshare operators in and around the airport, and the SFMTA, which regulates taxis, also considers them a problem.

The San Francisco Airport Commission and the SFMTA submitted concerns to the California Public Utilities Commission, charging that a “lack of adequate liability insurance, criminal background checks, driver training and regular vehicle inspections all decrease public safety, and although some [transportation network companies] represent that they do all of the above, the Airport Commission is asking for regulatory verification.” according to a CPUC report. “The SFMTA asserts that TNCs have a negative effect on public safety because of a lack of regulatory oversight.”

Cab drivers have long been regulated by the state, and these agencies contend that not only are rideshare companies like Uber dangerous, but the lack of insurance can be financially ruinous to pedestrians and drivers alike.

"Because it’s a pedestrian suing, that opens up a whole can of worms, and Uber may try to put the liability on the driver," said Trevor Johnson, director of the San Francisco Cab Driver's Association. A former cabbie himself, he's been on both sides of that sort of litigation, as well as in legal actions with tech companies like Uber.

Johnson is not confident the driver will be covered by his own insurance plan, because in its current pseudo-taxi company state, many insurers consider you not quite a taxi but not a private driver, putting these tech-cabbies in an awkward limbo.

"He may be left with a big judgment, and his insurance may opt to not cover him because he’s with Uber," he said.

This is backed up in our current issue of the Guardian, where Lyft driver Josh Wolf wrote from personal experience that it is difficult for Lyft drivers to obtain full insurance coverage for their vehicles.

A rideshare driver criticized Uber in a letter he wrote to the Guardian after reading that article. “I work for a limo company, I’m fully insured, the car is fully insured, but Uber takes absolutely no responsibility for its drivers,” the driver, who wanted to be identified as “Zark,” told us. He said he feared joining the ranks of self-employed cabbies, who often are under-insured. “[Uber] holds their customers in really high regard, but they don’t hold their drivers in any regard.”

Uber maintains that the drivers, and their actions, are not their responsibility.

In response to a query about the lawsuit, Uber spokesperson Andrew Noyes stated repeatedly that drivers are not employees of the rideshare company.

“Our legal team took a look at the files you sent. This is not an ‘Uber’ driver, they’re not employed by us. They’re employed by their licensed and insured limousine company,” he said. “The important thing is that theres no characterization of a driver as a driver at Uber.”

But Gafurov, the driver named in the accident, isn’t actually employed by a limo company.

Gafurov declined to speak to the Guardian, but after some digging, a disgruntled bystander, angry with Gafurov, found that he is self-employed and registered with the CPUC as the “Limo Car Service Corporation.”

Gafurov was driving with liability insurance, his CPUC registration shows -- but he not did not have excess liability insurance, which would be needed to cover extraordinary damage caused by the flying fire hydrant. The gaping hole left by the hydrant spilled water out onto all the surrounding businesses, causing intense damage, and everyone affected is seeking compensation.

Fahrbach’s lawyer, Doug Atkinson, told us the cost of the accident will be enormous.

Notably, few independent drivers have excess liability insurance.

“A lot of carriers don’t have it, because it’s expensive,” Johnson told us. “This is a case for the excess insurance, as it stands right now with that much damage and that many people after him, unless Uber steps in and helps him save the day this driver is going to be in the hole for the next 20 years.” He added, “This guy’s life is over.”

Atkinson is hopeful that getting Uber to pay that insurance won’t be a hard sell. “I’m not looking for some protracted legal battle, I want to see a company that will do the right thing, who’s saying ‘I’m revolutionizing cab driving.’”

In order to persuade the CPUC of its viability during the regulatory proceeding, Uber told them it has the very excess liability insurance that Gafurov needs, in excess of $5 million, according to CPUC documentation from an April workshop.

But having that insurance in place is different from using it to cover damages when needed. According to Uber’s partner agreement with its drivers, “Uber and/or its licensors shall not be liable for any loss, damage or injury which may be incurred” by a driver.

Asked if Uber will help Farhbach pay her medical bill, Noyes responded, “You’re writing about a specific case and I don’t think I can say much more. A professionally licensed driver is protected by their company, it’s not really my issue to weigh in on.”

Meanwhile, Fahrbach isn’t doing very well at all, she wrote in an email. Her injuries forced her to leave her two jobs in San Francisco, one at a farmer’s market and another at a cafe, and she moved back in with her family in North Carolina to recover.

"My recovery has been a slow steady process laced with many ups and downs," she said. "Having been immobile for the better part of three months has had an everlasting effect on my physical state. I will most likely be dealing with spinal problems for the rest of my life, but have tried to remain positive and grateful for the progress I have made."

Fahrbach said she doesn't have the money to cover her medical bills out-of-pocket, and this frightens her. "Frankly, if there is insufficient insurance to cover my injuries and losses, my financial future will be dismal."

Comments

What do you have against the sharing economy?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 7:21 am

Not all professions have intermediaries and so not all professions have that opportunity to create peer-to-peer relationships. A dentist-patient relationship is already peer-to-peer and so cannot be disintermediated.

Posted by anon on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 7:37 am

Dentist and patients are not peers. Neither are livery drivers and their customers.

It is unsurprising, but still disgusting, that vulture capitalists are (mis)using socialistic terms, like sharing and peer, as a marketing strategy to fatten their pockets.

And a commenter with an Archie Bunker level intellect, like anon, can parrot this disinformation onto these comment pages.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 8:14 am

Always was. You do not hire a broker to find a dentist.

But for homes and cabs, you typically do, until of course the internet cut out the middleman. That's the beauty of a truly co-operative model - it REMOVES the fake profit of the useless middle man, and puts money into the hand of the driver and rider, landlord and tenant, airline and flyer, and so on.

Posted by anon on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 8:50 am

The notions of cooperative and regulatory intermediation are orthogonal.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:06 am

"orthogonal" then you might as well sign your own name because, either way, people will dismiss you as a deluded muffinhead.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:25 am

You need to dumb down your vocabulary a bit when you post as anon. The troll who posts as anon simply doesn't have the same command of the English language. He speaks in simple talking points on the level of FOX News, which is to say about a 5th grade level.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 7:14 am

it may be in the article, but I did not see what driver was found to be at fault. Why isn't anyone talking about the other drivers role and the other driver's insurance responsibility.

Posted by dave on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 6:37 am

poor signage, street layout or bad hydrant design.

Posted by anon on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 7:03 am

The Uber allies on this board value profit uber alles.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 7:35 am

this new model works as a reaction to the over-regulation and the cosy arrangements of the old economy.

So to try and stifle these new entities with the failed precepts of the old economy is just a little too convenient for all those vested interests, don't you think?

An insurance company can furnish a policy to cover vehicles that are used for a variety of purposes. I see that mainly as a responsibility of the vehicle's owner since they are effectively working as independent contractors.

Posted by anon on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 7:43 am

Guest above called it right. Sometimes I can't tell between anon's serious posts and the gibberish generator.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 9:13 am

I cannot follow your logic.

Care to invoke Martians again?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 9:43 am

I've noticed a lot of comments from the above "airborne fire hydrant" article acting as if The SF Bay Guardian is demanding to put this Limo company out of business. The SF Bay Guardian is a newspaper, a journalistic entity, which does not have any "personal concern" of this case or any others. They are suppose to be neutral in all they report about. It is not the Guardian that would be "demanding" the town car service be put out of business, or even that Uber is liable, it would be our system that is the ultimate judge of this case.

After carefully reading this article it is very unclear what will happen. Of course, it is a horrible accident/experience for Fahrbach to have endure and someone needs to compensate her greatly for her physical and emotional injuries, after all, the evidence shown leads to the fact that she was an innocent bystander in all of this! We have yet to see how Uber will respond.

As far as who is to blame, like I said, the system will have to determine that. I can tell you one thing, from my experience and research in following the SF Cab and LA Cab companies VS the Ride Sharing companies, if this was a San Francisco Cab company in the midst of this and not an Uber driver, they would of been all over it, in fact one or two companies actually have investigators who would of been down there on site, probably within an hour of this accident, to not only report on the accident and damage (and of course to help determine cause and who is at fault), but to also see how they could help their customer and anyone who might have been injured in the accident. I have witness this and also have spoken to several cab drivers who have given me statements confirming this type of positive behavior.

As much as a company like Uber may be more "creative" and technology smart these types of problems, early on, show they may not be too business saavy (I'd like to meet their investors sometime - I've got some great swamp land in the middle of the California desert to sell them) considering their business model maybe has too many holes in it (Ya think?!), what they do next will play a big role in how successful (or not) they become. Only time will tell.

As far as the public goes, if the economy doesn't get any better Cab companies will have to get pretty creative as well to give customers more for less (which some of the cabbies I've met are doing that already through advertising and promotional marketing). How much more they give and how much less they can deliver it for is yet to be determined, but if its convenient, one way or another, that is one thing that their customers will surely want to hail down!

By
Nolan A
Event City
Internet Organization Technology
ec@eventcity.net

Posted by Nolan A on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

Why do you all keep calling these new companies "ride-sharing"? Dont you know what ride-sharing is? Uber, Lyft, etc., have nothing to do with ride-sharing. They are "for-hire vehicles", the same as taxis, limos and town cars.

Posted by tagletigre on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

Uber Lyft , et. al. are giving the cyber world a bad name with their scams.

They ar no more a "ride share" than a Yellow Cab is. (The driver and his affilaition
are not sharing, any more than Yellow..

They are a "Fore Hire" transport company that provides no insurance to protect the passenger or the public or the City's hydrants, etc... Their drivers are not tested, etc.

++++++++++

That the Mayor stands on the City Hall steps...defending them.....is a total disgrace.

(Whatever could be behind that??? hmmm? )...

That Uber & Slide Car can bamboozle Sacramento and S.F. shows that they know
how to "grease the wheels", I grant them that....

..but : their "slam sandwich" goes down like a "Vaseling Sandwich.."...

The media is stupid to use the b.s. terms like "ride share".. (doesn't that sound so "green and groovy".!

The moral: Get yourself a pink mustache, and be a "RideShare",too, until the stuff hits the fan and the hydrant.

Posted by jack barry on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

All this "ride-sharing" (sic) is nothing new, any more than the "gypsy cabs" that have always been around. Uber et al are cars that "ply for hire" as the regulations say. The fact that you contact the driver on an iPhone instead of an old celphone or a landline, changes nothing. The fact that you use an app instead of going thru the dispatcher, or asking the doorman to whistle, or just standing on the corner looking like you need a cab, changes nothing. All of them are picking up hitchhikers for money. That's it.
Now, you can either have a regulated system, with protections and expectations for the customer and the industry, or you can have a deregulated system which means it's every man for himself. Most of you have probably never lived in a city with an unregulated transit system, unless you've traveled to someplace like Calcutta perhaps.

Posted by tagletigre on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

business?

You know, the American way?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

You're talking about having licensed, insured, regulated businesses competing against some fly-by-night operation. The latter may be more nimble because they don't have to deal with the costs of legitimacy. But that doesn't serve the consumer in the long run, especially if it squeezes out the legitimate business.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

If I want a ride to the airport, then I don;t ask the driver about a nebulous term like legitimacy. I ask about the price, the time, the type of vehicle and other relevant factors like that.

I don't ask him whether he spends half his day at city hall filling out forms in triplicate and paying off a bunch of corrupt officials there.

I've used regular cabs, car services and private cabs, and they have all worked fine for me, so it comes down to price, comfort and convenience.

May the best service win.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

Dude, no cabbie spends half his day at city hall filling out forms... and the only corrupt officials are the mayor who are being bought by the same venture capitalists behind Lyft, Sidecar and uber....

ALL LEGITIMATE BUSINESS IS REGULATED.... PERIOD.

Posted by Trevor Johnson on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and the rest aren't going anywhere. The state PUC has made its decision, local and state political leadership are behind these services and they're incredibly popular with the public. Better make your peace with them because they're here to stay. The sooner cabbies and their allies realize that the better it'll be for everyone.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 10:21 pm

He prefer "legitimate" failure to entrepreneurial success.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 10, 2013 @ 10:42 pm
PUC

Apparently you do not know how to read.... the CPUC has not decided anything yet and even if they do... they do not have the ability to enforce anything anyway. Lyft and Sidecar most assuredly are a long term losing bet... they may gain some ground with illegal tactics and backroom deals that they accuse the taxi industry and so called "corrupt" officials of doing. But they will fail just as any business that is built on fraud and deception will, if local regulators don't run them out of town first.

Posted by Trevor Johnson on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 3:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

except of course where it is increasing public safety - the one area where it actually matters,

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 12:55 am

If we are to meander our way through the liability tiers, do we just assume she has none? Was this covered in the article?

At a minimum, was she not receiving HCSO (whatever the City acronym is) benefits from her two employers?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

Typically what happens is that her health insurance will pay her medical costs and then they will reclaim it from the driver's insurance, assuming the driver is held at fault.

The amount of ignorance demonstrated here about insurance by those eager to take cheap shots at the new shared co-operative economy is stunning.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 12:57 am

of a "shared co-operative economy." Still private sector capitalism with an updated business model utilizing web applications and social media. Driver=service provider, employee; Passenger=customer; Uber=broker, middleman, employer

Second, your disregard of the content of the article is what is stunning, but understandable because you probably didn't read it. The article doesn't mention Fahrbach's health insurance status. But it did include this quotation from her: Fahrbach said she doesn't have the money to cover her medical bills out-of-pocket, and this frightens her. "Frankly, if there is insufficient insurance to cover my injuries and losses, my financial future will be dismal."

In your perverted world view, the innocent injured bystander is the lucky one because she can use her misfortune to extort a fortune from the poor put upon insurance companies and the companies they protect. A veritable injury seeking golddigger.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 8:02 am

then whines when she is in an accident and has to pay some bills?

And somehow that is a failure of capitalism and not a failure of basic self-care?

So if we were in one of your revered socialist countries where all healthcare is free (or rather, paid by someone else), then her situation would have no merit and somehow, miraculously, the shared, co-operative economy would suddenly be OK?

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:24 am

way to go through life. And are you referring to "socialist" countries with universal health care, like United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, etc? because last I checked their economies aren't socialist. Do you even know what that word means?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:39 am

knowing that we do not have socialized healthcare in the US, thought it a smart idea to decline all coverage based on the hope that she might be able to sue someone if she ever gets ill or injured?

Way to go.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:51 am

Let's give you this from a taxi company perspective. Let's replace the Uber driver with a cab driver from the company I manage. Ready?
Taxi cab turns left, hits another car, fire hydrant also hit. (With the information provided we'll go with the cab driver being the "at fault" vehicle in this scenario).
Cab driver contacts local law enforcement AND the taxi company. Accident is processed by law enforcement as usual.
Cab company insurance carrier is contacted, claim is started.
Lot's of questions, lots of paperwork.
Cab company's insurance pays for all damages, injuries, etc.
Done.
Yes, the vehicle is owned by the cab company who MUST HAVE commercial insurance on each and every vehicle along with Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. (Cabs in our city can NOT be issued "taxi" plates without carrying commercial insurance). The cab company has to provide information for EACH AND EVERY driver that will be operating a vehicle listed on the policy. And NO, our insurance will NOT cover anyone's personal vehicle who is listed as a driver for our company. We don't own those vehicles. (Owner/operators of smaller companies must carry COMMERCIAL policies for their vehicles as well, sedans and limousines are issued "for hire" plates which require totally different insurance policies although the general process and the way accidents are handled are the same as taxi cabs).
Whew it's rough trying to get a point across for people who have never been in this industry but, hopefully, the above might be helpful to those who want the whole story instead of clamoring like children to ride in the "shiny new car with my "friend" Jenny who gives me candy, Daddy"!!!!!
It's pitiful that this woman won't simply get what she deserves for her injuries without having to get dragged through all the legal garbage. Shame on the "transportation company" (UBER) if they won't back up their driver. (But that appears to be a done deal doesn't it)?
Almost as pitiful: the bad reviews I see about taxi drivers. How do ANY of the "bad" drivers (those I see written about ALL THE TIME in comments to stories like this one) expect anyone in the industry to stand up for them when all they're doing is giving GOOD drivers a bad name? Where are the companies responsible for the rude drivers in dirty cabs that won't take credit cards?
From someone who tries to run a decent, LEGAL transportation company I say: step up. Step up and take care of our industry. It's the people you pick up that are your bread and butter. Why wouldn't you make them happy?
"Ridesharing" = gypsy cabs of "innovation", we've dealt with the gypsies FOREVER, being a better company with good drivers will put them out of business.

Posted by Tracie C on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:14 am

has no insurance of any type and now hopes for a payday because she hopes that somewhere there are some deep pockets who will bankroll her greed.

A plaintive plaintiff, evidently.

Here's the deal - buy some freaking health and accident insurance. Problem goes boom.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:27 am

that you can only attribute a person's motivation to greed.

A perverted world view. Somehow Ms. Fahrbach is the villain here, undoubtedly constantly walking the streets looking for life-changing, potentially permanently disabling injuries just to receive a payday.

The word asshole comes to mind.

You always talk about "subsidizing losers." Isn't that what you are advocating by not holding Uber and the town car driver accountable for their actions and responsibilities?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 9:51 am

her first reaction was apparently not "oh, let me submit a claim for my expenses to my insurance company" but rather "who can I sue?"

She kinda lost all sympathy and compassion at that point.

Here is the clue - carry medical and accident cover rather than relying on some deep pockets to conveniently materialize for you to sue.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 10:02 am

was nor whether or not she had health insurance.

The fact that she filed a lawsuit almost five months after the accident would indicate that filing a lawsuit was not her first reaction.

Of course, you don't have sympathy and compassion. Those feelings are unknown to you.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 10:27 am

she decline to carry the basic insurance that would have made all this nastiness un-necessary?

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 10:48 am

Maybe she doesn't? Maybe she couldn't afford it? Maybe her insurance company is fighting her claim? Maybe she worked for one of the deadbeat Healthy SF restaurants and thought she had insurance but actually didn't?

None of that matters. This lawsuit will force answers to the questions like employee vs. contractor and define for the public that these "ridesharing" companies are just livery services looking for loopholes to maximize their profits, standard operating procedure in our world gone mad.

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, you will remain a disingenuous commenter who always sides with money over people, a self-imposed life sentence.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 11:07 am

You are just gagging for an excuse to sue someone because you are frustrated that the shareable economy is taking over and you are a bystander

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 11:38 am

Your unbeaten record in debates is over.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

OH PLEASE fill me in as to where I can obtain an insurance policy that will cover me getting hit by an out of control fire hydrant while out for a stroll?? Sigh, too bad there isn't an insurance policy to cover "stupid". You need it.

Posted by Tracie C on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 11:42 am

is dirt cheap, because these freak accidents are so rare.

There's also this thing called medical insurance. Check it out.

Posted by anon on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 11:57 am

How CUTE your attempt at sarcasm was! Thanks!

Posted by Tracie C on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 1:00 pm

I love reading all the feisty comments above. Some from hipsters hell bent on their vision of the "sharing" economy, who do not seem to realize that they are undermining their own financial security and helping to widen the gap between the haves and have nots. Some from sensible folks that actually "get it", talking about how the "sharing" economy is a scam. Even a smattering from people who seem to think this article is a debate about the quality of service in the taxi industry.

Usually I would be commenting about how the taxi industry leaders have been working with regulators to get rules in place that would insure better more efficent service to the city as a whole. Or I would go on about how the millennial hipsters that whine the loudest about their crappy taxi experiences or how much they love Lyft and regulation is bad, are largely the reason why the taxi service they get is so shitty.

But today I will say that as a number of you either realize or don't, this is an issue of tech corporations no longer trying to disrupt the behemoths but now disrupting the little guy and adding an intermediary where there has never been one before. The taxi industry was the original peer to peer business, in that someone had to discreetly ferry the prostitutes (the world's other ancient profession) to the priests and politicians and back again, all while collecting a fee for this service. Taxi drivers are the original "community drivers". San Francisco has the largest percentage of long term taxi drivers with the average tenure in the industry being over 15 years. Taking away their jobs and giving them to a bunch of jobless 20 somethings that have a collective driving experience of less than 10% of the taxi industry, and giving failed cabbies like Dean Clark (I wonder how long till he is a victim of lyft?) a way to get back on the road, is not only socially irresponsible but actually vile and despicable. Cab companies have their issues but have never been the intermediary between the driver and his customer. The cab companies do not take a cut, they have no motivation for getting customers picked up because their customers are the cab drivers who rent the cabs. A cab driver can source his customers from anywhere and is not required to even use the company provided dispatch services.

So when a Sidecar, Lyft or UberX driver with a paying passenger blows a red light at 60mph and T-bones a taxi (1223), sending the cab driver and both taxi passengers (one pregnant) to the hospital, who is going to pay for that? Certainly not L,S or U, their terms of service state clearly that they are not responsible for ANYTHING that happens as a result of the use of their app. PIFC has stated that their members will not pay any claims, so that leaves the poor clueless idiot that drank the pink koolaid on the hook now for what could be well over $1mil in damages and hospital bills. All so he could earn a few extra bucks working as a casual techno gypsy cab.

If this was a taxi driver that caused this he would be out of service, drug tested that night, and would likely have his license revoked for reckless driving. L,S and U not being regulated means they will have that driver back on the street in 24 hours or less.

No regulation means no legal or financial recourse. Put down the joint and PBR, cough up your mollys and blow that non-blow you bought in the zeitgeist bathroom out of your nose, put your phone in your pocket and open your eyes you silly hipsters. Your love of all things "sharing" is cute and libertarian but its time to grow up and get a real job.

Posted by Trevor Johnson on Aug. 12, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

Hopefully Uber will soon find out what the sharing economy really means when they get smacked down in court. If they really believed in the sharing economy, they'd have no problem sharing some of their profits and taking responsibility for the accident. Sharing is caring, you know.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 7:20 am

This comment.....awesome. Thank you Trevor.

Posted by Tracie C on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

this case reminds me of the inadvisability of making curb cuts overly broad as was mandated by Pelosi's 1990 ADA.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

The constitutional right you give up by riding in a lyft, sidecar, or uberx, is the constitutional right to a jury trial. You are agreeing that you cannot and will not hold them liable for anything that happens to you as a result of the ride up to and including death.
When you get in a legal taxi the taxi company and driver are liable in the case of anything that happens to you. This is why it is licensed as a taxi by the city or county in which it is licensed.
The app companies are very discriminative by not providing transportation to the disabled in wheelchairs and not having apps accessible to the blind. A clear violation of the Unruh Act.
The other thing to consider is that no matter what these companies say, they allow out of state plates and do not keep records immediately accessible to local law enforcement like taxis are required to do.
The so called "rape" cams are actually primarily for the protection of the drivers as driving a taxi is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and one where the probability being a victim of homicide is just behind that of law enforcement. That's not to say cabbies don't make inappropriate advances, but if they do there is recourse with immediate consequences. Something you don't get in app based illegal taxi rides. It has even been said that Sidecar encourages their drivers to hit on female passengers.
Finally the medallion cap is in place in cities like San Francisco to make sure that the cab drivers can earn a living wage and to keep congestion down. These are drivers that spend up to 12 hours a day, risking their health and life to make sure the city is served with fair transportation. When these cabbies cant make a living working normally they are forced to re-strategize their business plan, leaving people standing on the curb who normally wouldn't be. Adding droves of un-licensed casual cabbies to the streets serves only a small subset of the population and contributes to worse service for those who need it the most.
When transportation regulators can't keep the number of cars on the road in check it gets dangerous for other users of the roads especially bicyclists and pedestrians. When there are too many cabs drivers cannot make enough money to support their families. A prime example is right now in SF where there are thousands of illegal taxis (operating under the guise of "ridesharing") competing with legal cabs daily, cutting the already barely livable wage of the cab driver by 60% essentially leaving them with nothing.
If lyft, sidecar and uberx wanted to really compete they can start their own leagal cab companies and change the industry from within and compete on a level playing field.

Posted by Trevor Johnson on Aug. 20, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

It's obvious that you fear the competition. And that is because you have had it too easy for too long - you're fat and happy but see the writing on the wall.

Posted by anon on Aug. 20, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

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