Rideshare companies are becoming a way of life, especially for those who live in big cities. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 36% of adults say they have used a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft. For people who travel often, it’s an easy and convenient option. Gone are the days of renting a car or hailing a taxi. Unfortunately, with every advancement in technology, there are always issues that arise. While any car accident can be traumatic, those involving rideshare companies are particularly complicated. Uber lawsuits and Lyft lawsuits are difficult to navigate because you’re dealing with the driver, as well as the ride-share company and multiple insurance companies with individual interests.
At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, we have the necessary experience to help you navigate the complexities of rideshare accidents and issues. We can walk with you through the process, fighting for you every step of the way. The following profiles of Uber lawsuits show just how complex and varied these cases can be.
$20 million settlement reached for Uber TCPA violation
In August of 2015, a woman named Maria Vergara filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Uber. The suit claimed that Uber sent her continuous, unwanted texts over the course of several weeks. According to Vergara, they were urging her to complete the app’s sign-up process. Other named parties included Jonathan Grindell, Jennifer Reilly, James Lathrop, Sandeep Pal, and Justin Bartolet.
So why was this an issue? The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, also known as “TCPA,” forbids companies from sending automated text messages to individuals without consent. In 2018, Uber settled the lawsuit for $20 million. If an individual received one or more text messages from Uber between December 31, 2010 and August 17, 2017, they were potentially eligible for a payment from this class-action Uber lawsuit.
The $20 million settlement had three separate settlement classes:
- Class A: Everyone Uber texted about its Refer-a-Friend program
- Class B: Potential drivers who partially completed the company’s application and continued to receive unwanted texts from Uber, even after they asked the company to stop
- Class C: Everyone who did not provide their information to Uber, but received unwanted texts
As of August 2018, all checks were sent to eligible Settlement Class Members who filed a valid claim. However, in addition to paying $20 million in settlement money, Uber also agreed to make several changes.
First, the company discontinued its Refer-a-Friend automated text messages. They also made changes to the opt-out system to automatically unsubscribe recipients who reply with certain opt-out words. Furthermore, Uber improved their sign-up technology to reduce the likelihood of texting or calling wrong phone numbers in the future.
Updates to the case
Even with changes put into place, Uber continues to face ongoing allegations of TCPA violations. One of these suits came up just months after the $20 million settlement. In April 2018, a lawsuit filed in Florida challenged Uber’s alleged practice of sending template text messages to former drivers. According to the plaintiff, these text messages urge former drivers to come back to Uber and continue working.
Further, in late 2019, the District Court for the Southern District of California ordered another Uber TCPA case to arbitration. The plaintiff was a user of Uber’s ride-sharing service. However, the plaintiff began receiving unwanted calls regarding Uber’s other application, “Uber Eats.” This particular app enables users to order food from local restaurants and have it delivered to them. The problem was that the plaintiff did not own or operate a restaurant and had no interest in the calls. Furthermore, the plaintiff contacted Uber at least three times in an effort to stop the calls but was unsuccessful.
Were you affected?
The original TCPA Uber lawsuit is now closed and all Settlement Class Members who filed a claim have been paid. However, Huber Thomas & Marcelle can assist if you’ve been affected by similar matters.
No one wants to be on the receiving end of endless solicitation. Due to the costly nature of TCPA violations, most businesses use verification codes and advanced systems to ensure the accuracy of information on file. Unfortunately, others continue to ignore their responsibility to uphold the guidelines set forth in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
If you’re receiving continuous calls and/or text messages you didn’t sign up for, our team of lawyers can help. We work hard to obtain fair settlements for our clients.
Other rideshare and Uber lawsuits
Beyond issues of unwanted communication, there are additional lawsuits playing out against Uber and other rideshare companies. As the popularity of this mode of transportation grows, both passengers and drivers encounter issues that lead to litigation.
Here is a look at some of the other Uber lawsuits and rideshare lawsuits making their way through the court system.
Perhaps the Uber issue most frequently reported in the media deals with wages.
For example, in November 2019, drivers in New York City filed a lawsuit against Uber for millions in lost wages. The suit claims Uber deducted money from the paychecks of 96,000 drivers for both the state’s sales taxes and a surcharge meant to apply to rides between states. According to the drivers, their contract requires them to be paid the full fare minus Uber’s service fee. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Uber required passengers to pay a higher fare than what was being reported to drivers. In turn, the company would pocket the difference.
Prior to this, New York City approved minimum wage protections for rideshare drivers. The new law requires Uber to pay them $17 an hour for their work. Other cities, including Seattle and Los Angeles, are also considering the implementation of minimum wage requirements for rideshare drivers.
Beyond the issue of fair wages is the challenges over employment classification. Uber, Lyft, and other similar rideshare apps classify their workers as independent contractors. If true, this means that they do not have to provide health insurance, overtime pay, and other benefits that are required for employees.
O’Connor v. Uber has made waves in the court system since 2013 about this issue. This initial case was nearly over in 2016 when Uber agreed to pay $100 million in a class action lawsuit. The catch? Uber would be able to continue classifying drivers as independent contractors. A federal judge argued the amount was insufficient, and since then, things have shifted. The Supreme Court issued a ruling that supports employers forcing workers to use arbitration, as opposed to class action lawsuits. From there, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reduced the size of the class that will participate in the settlement.
In California, Uber recently joined forces with Lyft and other food delivery apps to fight legislation that forces them to classify drivers as employees. Assembly Bill 5 states that a worker is considered an employee unless they are free from the employer’s control, their work is outside the usual course of the company’s business, and they work as part of an independent job or business. As a result, Uber is rolling out changes to the app to prove that drivers truly are in control. They can view all of the details about a ride in order to decide if it is worth the time and rate. However, discussions will still continue about this contentious issue.
Sexual assault allegations
Both Lyft and Uber have also been at the center of lawsuits involving sexual assault. In Washington, DC, a woman is suing Uber for $10 million after being sexually assaulted by her driver. According to court documents, she confided in a social worker who contacted the police. After collecting DNA evidence that linked the driver to the assault, he pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse and is currently in jail.
Last year, 20 people filed a similar lawsuit against Lyft. They each claim they were raped or sexually assaulted by their drivers. The plaintiffs and their lawyers sued not only to seek damages, but also to demand that Lyft install cameras in all of their cars. In a statement, Lyft said they've launched more than 15 new safety features to combat these types of situations. However, lawyers say eight of the cases took place after these changes were put into place.
Finally, with easier access to a ride, you would think the prevalence of car accidents would go down. After all, rideshare services present an affordable and convenient way to avoid distracted and impaired driving. However, some statistics show that rideshare programs lead to more miles on the road, which could mean more Uber accidents.
University of Chicago researchers found that new rideshare services in a city were associated with an increase of approximately 3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents (involving both passengers and pedestrians). As it turns out, the convenience may actually result in higher risk.
While any car accident is frightening, and potentially life-changing, rideshare accidents can be tough to navigate. Uber does carry insurance, but it still generally places the blame on drivers. That means your driver is typically responsible for any accident that occurs, not the rideshare company.
In March of 2018, a Philadelphia woman was injured after her Uber driver ran a red light. She suffered a fracture to her spine, along with a concussion and traumatic brain injury. Uber argues that by approving their “terms and conditions” when you sign up, you agree to resolve legal disputes only through binding arbitration. In short, this forces you to waive your rights to sue. However, a Philadelphia judge ruled that Uber can’t prove someone has actually read through the terms and conditions. Today, the woman continues to fight for a jury trial.
Unfortunately, data surrounding the prevalence of rideshare accidents is difficult to come by. While Uber does release safety reports, they typically leave out accidents that are non-fatal. According to representatives from the company, these numbers are simply too difficult to track.
Get help after a Lyft or Uber accident
Put simply, issues with these rideshare companies are complicated, contentious, and difficult to manage. If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a Lyft or Uber accident, we can help. At Huber Thomas & Marcelle, we work to obtain the fairest settlement for our clients and have dedicated experience with rideshare issues.
Whether you have mounting medical bills or have lost the ability to work, we understand the effect a car accident can have on your life. This is the case if you're a passenger, rideshare driver, or someone else on the road when the accident occurred.
Regardless of your involvement in this type of crash, you need an attorney with experience in these types of cases. Rideshare companies are giants in the transportation industry. You should never face them alone. Our experienced team at Huber Thomas & Marcelle can walk you through the process of getting the compensation you deserve. We have helped bring numerous cases to trial, with millions awarded to our clients.
For any potential rideshare or Uber lawsuit, you need the best legal team on your side. Call Huber Thomas & Marcelle for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Originally posted August 17, 2017.