Drawbacks to Using Uber in St. Louis?
In the last 10 years, rideshare companies like Uber have radically changed the transportation industry as we know it. However, with innovation comes significant problems and controversies. Uber is convenient and affordable, but what are the drawbacks? What if you are in a car accident while riding in an Uber? What if you are sexually or physically assaulted by a driver or another passenger? What do you do if you are discriminated against? If any of these scenarios are something you have experienced, contact an Uber accident attorney St. Louis today.
St. Louis has a variety of transportation options in both the public and private sectors that can take you to your desired destination. Between the MetroLink, private taxis, limousine services, personal vehicles, biking, walking, renting a scooter, or using a rideshare app like Uber, there are plenty of ways to get around the city. Uber has become a clear favorite transportation option as many residents, including students at Washington University and St. Louis University opt to request an Uber from an app on their phone rather than use their personal vehicle or navigate public transportation. While requesting an Uber is simple, there are many risks involved. These risks include:
- Accidents with other vehicles, pedestrians, or property
- Sexual misconduct and assault
- Discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment
What is Uber in St. Louis, Missouri?
Rideshare technology is new, having only been developed and utilized in the last decade. The idea is simple: every day people can use their personal cars to help others get where they need to go and earn some extra money on the side. The technology behind the concept is just as simple. After downloading the Uber app, Uber uses GPS tracking technology to pinpoint your location. It then pairs you with a nearby Uber driver who is sent your location. Once that Uber driver picks you up, your trip is tracked using that same GPS technology, and your fees are automatically withdrawn from your account at the end of your ride. While the process is simple, it is not without problems or risks. As a passenger, you are entering a car with a stranger. This stranger could behave or drive in ways that make you uncomfortable or even endanger you. When you enter an Uber you are potentially at risk of being involved in a car accident, being the victim of an assault, being discriminated against, or any of the other risks that exist when interacting with a stranger and their vehicle.
Uber was the first major ridesharing service in St. Louis, beginning service in September of 2015. Since then Uber has expanded to the metro-east.
Qualifications to Drive for Uber in St. Louis
Uber has very minimal requirements before they allow drivers to hit the roads. In order to drive for Uber, you only need to be 21 years old, have been licensed for 1-3 years, and have access to a 4-door vehicle. Uber also requires proof of residency, proof of vehicle insurance, and a driver profile photo. Potential drivers must pass a background check where their driving and criminal records are examined.
Drivers must have proof of personal insurance, and Uber provides $1 million in liability insurance. But, there is often a gap in coverage. Uber’s liability insurance has many restrictions in their coverage. For example, the policy covers the driver while they are transporting passengers, but the driver loses that coverage once the rider exits the vehicle. The driver is protected while en route to a rider or while waiting for a ride request, but to a much smaller degree. The smaller coverage is also contingent – meaning the driver must submit any claims to their personal insurance before Lyft will agree to cover the incident. The driver’s private insurance may deny them coverage once they begin driving commercially; this may also leave a gap. These gaps in coverage may leave the driver, or even the passenger, without many options in the event of an Uber accident. To fill the gaps, drivers may be required by some states to purchase a commercial insurance policy, but this is not required in Missouri. This lack of coverage has led to a niche market of insurance companies that only provide insurance to rideshare drivers at a low cost to them.
The questions surrounding insurance claims are concerning for passengers of ridesharing vehicles. If an accident were to occur, your injuries may not be covered. You should be sure that you are covered for any potential injuries that you face while using rideshare. While it may be awkward, ask your Uber driver about their insurance coverage prior to getting in the car.
St. Louis Uber Driver Makes National Headlines
An alarming story made national headlines in 2018 when it was revealed that a local St. Louis driver for both Uber and Lyft was recording his passengers without their knowledge. However, he argued that there was a small sticker on one of the passenger windows acknowledging the active recording equipment and that by getting in the car, you consented to be recorded. His claim remains actively disputed. Using $3,000 worth of camera equipment, the driver both recorded and live-streamed passengers’ rides to Twitch, a video platform app. What the driver did was not illegal in the state of Missouri, but it has been considered a wildly inappropriate violation of privacy.
Lyft and Uber both terminated their partnership with the driver.
The story creates questions of both a lack of safety and privacy while using the apps and trusting an Uber driver with getting a passenger to their specified destination safely. Are the drivers vetted properly? Are you safe getting a ride from a complete stranger? The story has prompted Uber to reevaluate its policies concerning drivers.
The passengers could potentially take legal action against the driver on the basis of “breach of privacy.” In Missouri, however, the law clearly defines that only one party in the conversation must consent to a recording.
While this is only one example of the type of issues that can arise as a result of using ridesharing companies, there are many other concerning reports regarding Uber drivers violating passenger’s privacy, putting passengers at in harm’s way, or otherwise harming passengers.
Missouri Uber Regulations – Laws in the Show-Me State
Uber began its St. Louis service in September of 2015, but it was not until April 2017 that Uber was legally approved in the state of Missouri. In April 2017, Missouri Governor Greitens signed HB 130. The law made it possible for rideshare companies, including Uber, to legally operate in the state without facing excessive restrictions and regulations. HB 130 sets up clear guidelines and fee schedules that Uber has to pay in order to operate. Under HB 130, Uber is required to pay a licensing fee, conduct background checks on all drivers, and require that drivers buy vehicle liability insurance before driving for Uber. It grants the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City permission to audit Uber drivers, but it exempts Uber from paying local and municipal taxes everywhere except for airports. Airports are allowed to charge Uber the same fees they charge standard taxi drivers.
Missouri airports have very clear rules when it comes to Uber. Prior to 2017, Uber drivers could drop-off passengers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, but not legally pick up any passengers. The only exception to this rule was if the passenger requested an Uber Black town car. In August 2017, Uber was part of a deal struck with Lambert. Uber agreed to pay $3 fees for each pick-up and drop-off made by their drivers. They also agreed to pay Lambert $15,000 every two years.
This agreement benefits Uber drivers and passengers alike as drivers are guaranteed clients and passengers are guaranteed rides. Upon reaching the agreement, Lambert designated 33 rideshare spots. However, this has created issues as many feel that 33 spots are not enough for rideshare traffic at the airport. Instead of waiting for pick-up calls at the airport, Uber drivers began waiting for calls in the neighboring city of Edmundson. Businesses and citizens of Edmunson complained about the increased traffic and loitering until the City of Edmundson passed an ordinance in October of 2018 that banned Uber drivers from loitering on city property.
St. Louis Uber Car Accident
If you are in a car accident in an Uber, your first step is to make sure you, the driver, and anyone else in the vehicle is okay. If possible, get to a safe location. Once you are safe, contact emergency services, and stay on the scene until they arrive.
While waiting at the scene, and only if you are uninjured, save the evidence.
- Report the incident to Uber. While you do not want to talk to any Uber representatives, it is important to report the accident to document the time of the accident – that way the company is aware the accident happened while the driver was active on the app.
- Take pictures of the accident, the roadway, and any vehicles involved.
- Be sure to take pictures of the license plates of all involved vehicles and licenses of any drivers involved.
- Exchange contact information with the driver, and other passengers if there are any.
- If there are witnesses, ask for their contact information.
While all of this seems tedious and uncomfortable in the wake of an accident, it is imperative for any future case that you may have to provide as much information as possible. In the event of an Uber accident, the police will ultimately make the determination who is at fault, and who bears the responsibility for any damage or injuries caused by the accident.
A St. Louis Uber Driver Sexually Assaulted Me. What’s Next?
If you are sexually or physically assaulted in an Uber, the first step is to get to a safely get out of the vehicle as soon as possible, and getting to a safe location where you can contact the police to report the assault. If the assault occurred previously, contact the police to report it now.
Upon speaking with an officer, give them as much detailed information as possible. No detail is too insignificant. Useful information includes the driver’s name, driver description, license plate number, vehicle make and model, any passengers in the vehicle at the time, and any information about the incident.
After reporting the incident to law enforcement, seek medical care to treat, diagnose, and document any injury you may have. Once medical treatment has been administered, contact a knowledgeable sexual assault attorney at TorHoerman Law. Our team of experienced professionals will help guide you through the lawsuit process and answer any questions you may have.
Harassed or Discriminated Against By an Uber Driver or Other Passenger in St. Louis
Uber has a strict non-discrimination policy for both their riders and drivers. Therefore, they prohibit any sort of discrimination for any characteristic protected by federal and state law. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability and many more.
If you are facing discrimination or harassment in an Uber, your first step is to get out of the car and get to a safe location. Once you are safe, contact the police to report the incident. If you are unable to get out of the vehicle, but you are able to record the discrimination on your phone, do so. This documentation can be used in reporting the incident to the police and in any potential lawsuit you may have.
We have entered an age where discrimination is noticed, and many are taking action to prevent it from ever occurring. If you have been discriminated against or harassed in an Uber, consider contacting an Uber accident attorney St. Louis.
Uber Emergency Assistance Button
As more stories have come to light about the dangers of getting in an Uber, Uber has tried to come up with preventative measures. In addition to vetting their drivers and implementing a two-way rating system, Uber has worked to advance their app. The Uber app now includes an Emergency Assitance button. This button is accessible to both passengers and drivers and is designed to call emergency services with a single tap.
Uber Rating Systems Beneficial for St. Louis Uber Passengers
After completing your Uber ride, the app prompts you to leave a review of your experience, a tip, or both. Uber’s rating system ranges from one to five stars. If you had a negative experience with an Uber driver, it is important to leave an honest review of your experience. While your negative experience has already happened, you have the opportunity to prevent the experience from happening to anyone else. Uber monitors its drivers’ ratings, and if a driver is getting poor ratings, Uber takes action.
Uber’s rating system offers a two-way rating system for riders and drivers. This means that not only is the rider able to rate the driver, but the driver is also able to rate the passenger. It serves as a protection for drivers and passengers, as it allows Uber to get both sides of a story.
Hiring an Uber Accident Attorney St. Louis
At TorHoerman Law, our team of St. Louis Uber accident lawyers is experienced in almost all personal injury cases. Whether you were hurt in an accident involving an Uber, sexually or physically assaulted, or discriminated against by an Uber driver, our St. Louis Uber accident attorneys are here to help. Navigating the legal system can be confusing, but TorHoerman Law can answer any questions you may have and help you through the process of a lawsuit against a rideshare company.
Don’t hesitate to call and find out how and St. Louis Uber accident lawyer can help you. At TorHoerman Law, we offer free, no-obligation case consultations for all potential St. Louis Uber lawsuit clients.
For additional information, see the following pages:
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