Injured in an Uber?
Rideshare company, Uber, has gained immense popularity over the last few years, but in Chicago, Uber has been long-established. Not surprisingly, the City of Chicago was at the forefront of the technology. Chicago became the first city outside of the west coast to launch the service.
In 2011, rideshare company Uber launched its services in Chicago.
Since then, both Uber has expanded extensively which has caused issues throughout the city, car accidents, impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol, sexual misconduct or assault, and distracted driving to name a few.
Reckless and careless driving by a rideshare driver can result in a Uber lawsuit. If you were injured in an Uber accident, contact TorHoerman Law to talk with a Uber accident lawyer Chicago. Our firm offers free, no-obligation consultations.
What is Rideshare Technology?
With the rise of the smartphone came apps that intended to make life simpler for its users, and of those apps, there were a few designed to transport passengers from one place to another seamlessly and effectively. One of the most popular and well-known is Uber, but there are other rideshare apps, too, yet none that seem to have a grasp on the industry like Uber.
To use either app, you first need to download Uber from the app store. Once downloaded, you create a profile and upload your credit card information. Next time you are in need of a ride, pull up the app on your phone. It will pinpoint your exact location using GPS technology and you can input the name or address of your destination. Then, it will put out a request to drivers in the area and someone will confirm your request. Within minutes, a driver will arrive to pick you up and take you to your destination.
The idea behind the technology is to streamline the transportation industry and make getting from point A to point B easier for the user, but it is not without problems. Getting into a car with a stranger can be potentially dangerous for many reasons including reckless or distracted driving, potential car accidents, sexual misconduct, and assault, or discrimination. While the possibilities are frightening, they are all too real when trusting a stranger to drive you to your destination. More than ever, it is important to always pay attention to your surroundings.
What if I am in an Accident in an Uber?
If you are in an accident while riding in an Uber, dial 911 and call the police immediately. If the accident is not an emergency because there are no life-threatening injuries or the accident is not blocking traffic, call the Chicago Police non-emergency number. If within city limits, dial 311. If outside city limits, call 312-746-6000 and a dispatcher will be there to take your call. After contacting emergency personnel, begin documenting all evidence. This includes:
- The names and contact information for all individuals involved in the accident, including the Uber driver
- Photos of the accident, including any barriers hit or skid marks from tires, and pictures of the damage inflicted on the cars
- Photos of the license plates and drivers licenses’ of all individuals involved in the accident
- A detailed account of how the accident occurred
- The names of all responding law enforcement officers
Rideshare companies keep track of all GPS data, but it is important to record all details to share with your lawyer later on. Once law enforcement has completed documenting the accident and talking with all individuals involved, request a copy of the police report for your records. While our firm can obtain a copy at a later date for your case, it will move the process along quicker if you already have one saved.
If you received any medical treatment, keep a detailed record of each treatment and any medical bills incurred. Tracking all of the details will better help your case and keep it organized.
Sexual Assault or Attacked by an Uber Driver
While all drivers are vetted by the rideshare company prior to being granted approval to drive, that does not guarantee the drivers are upstanding individuals, especially because mistakes can be made by Uber when conducting background checks. If you were assaulted by an Uber driver or another Uber passenger, it is important to first get to a safe place and contact police immediately to file a report.
Once you have spoken with law enforcement, consult a medical professional to diagnose and treat any injuries you may have received as a result of the assault. Keep a record of all treated injuries, diagnosis, and medical bills.
Then, contact an experienced and knowledgable assault or sexual assault attorney. Up until May 2018, Uber had strict rules requiring passengers and drivers to settle all legal matters with private attorneys and confidential settlements involving sexual assault allegations. These rules have since changed due to an outcry from the public.
At TorHoerman Law, our Uber accident lawyer Chicago team will be able to guide you in filing a lawsuit. We are here to help and answer any questions you may have.
Harassment and Discrimination in the Windy City
While a hotbed discussion throughout the country, harassment and discrimination are very real issues that do not exclude Uber services. While each driver is vetted prior to driving for either company, it is a possibility that a passenger may be discriminated against based off race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation by either an Uber driver or passenger.
In bustling metropolises, Uber offers the option of Uber Pools, which essentially allows multiple passengers to carpool if going to similar destinations. In Chicago, this has been a benefit in reducing the congestion on busy, downtown streets, but it also can put passengers at risk because they are now sharing a ride with unknown individuals. The risk raises the possibility that a passenger could be either assaulted or harassed by another.
If you find yourself being harassed, remove yourself from the situation as safely and quickly as possible. If able, record the event as evidence of the discrimination. Once in a safe place, call the police to report the incident. Obtain a copy of the police report for your own records and contact an attorney to help guide you through the lawsuit process.
What is Required to be an Uber Driver in Chicago?
In the City of Chicago, it is required that all rideshare drivers follow the “transportation network provider” rules established by the City in the TNP Ordinance which include:
- A valid TNP Chauffeur License
- A TNP Vehicle Registration Emblem that must be displayed on the car
The TNP Chauffeur License can be obtained by taking a class online, but without it, the driver is not legally able to drive for Uber. Additionally, the companies specifically require that all rideshare driver’s cars are no more than six years old, or else the vehicle must be inspected semi-annually.
The goal of the ordinance is to provide safe rides to passengers by requiring drivers to follow a strict set of rules and regulate surge pricing by including a notice on the apps.
Acquiring the correct insurance coverage is also a requirement, but it is often overlooked by drivers. Failure to acquire the correct insurance as an Uber driver can be a prohibitive and costly mistake, both for the driver and passenger if an accident were to ever occur. It is important to pay attention to Illinois law and requirements before becoming a driver for Uber because it could save you a substantial amount of money down the road.
In addition to specific Chicago laws, the State of Illinois has legislation in place that regulates the ridesharing industry. In 2014, the first regulations were passed to legally manage the companies and drivers, and in 2016 and 2018, those regulations were expanded further. While Chicago maintains adherence to strict requirements by both drivers and the rideshare companies, its rules and regulations are not the strongest in the country.
Individuals wishing to drive for either company must submit their first name, social security number, and birth date in order to apply. The law mandating the required information went into effect on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, in order to hold rideshare companies to the same standard other licensed transportations services must uphold.
Specifically, the City of Chicago allowed Uber to forgo fingerprinting drivers but instead required them to conduct background checks on drivers through a national, state, and local database which made sure the drivers did not have criminal records, recent moving violations, or did not show up in sex offender registries.
However, it appeared that the company took a relaxed position on the requirements and were caught conducting inadequate background checks. As a result, Uber, and other rideshare companies agreed to pay a $10.4 million fine that would then be used to enhance mentoring programs for at-risk youth in the City. It was, at that time, the largest ever imposed fine for violations of that kind, but did benefit the City in a positive manner.
Once approved by the company, the driver must hold specific insurance policies. The policy must include commercial insurance of $50,000 per person and $100,000 for death and personal injury per incident. If the accident resulted in the destruction of property, the driver must hold a minimum of $25,000 of coverage. While Uber does provide liability insurance to all drivers in the form of a $1 million insurance policy, there can be gaps in what is covered. In Illinois, Uber provides varying degrees of insurance depending on if a driver is en route to pick up a passenger, transporting a passenger to their destination, or simply waiting for a ride request. Personal insurance providers often will not cover any accidents that occur while driving for ridesharing companies without additional fees, and many, will not cover it at all because using your personal vehicle for service is considered a commercial entity. It is important for drivers to understand the differences and talk with insurance providers before driving for Uber in Chicago.
The lack of quality insurance for rideshare drivers has sparked a movement of “rideshare endorsements” which essentially cover the gap between the liability insurance offered by Uber. But according to NBC 5 Chicago, many drivers opt out of the coverage, putting passengers at risk.
As a passenger, it would be helpful to ask your driver about their coverage for any future accidents. It is better to be over-prepared than not prepared at all for the risks that come with using the rideshare platform.
The bill also includes a zero-tolerance policy and drug and alcohol use.
However, the restrictions and requirements do not prevent problems from occurring. In May 2017, an Uber driver in a suburb of Chicago was charged with aggravated DUI after driving a passenger. The passenger called the police for a well-being check after the driver’s behavior began to worry about the passenger. The incident, not uncommon throughout the country, is one that also raises concerns. If you suspect that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, remove yourself from the situation as quickly and safely as possible and call the police. Not only should the driver not be using the app, but they also should not be on the roads where they could cause injuries or death not only to themselves but to others.
If you were in an accident and the driver did not adhere to the requirements of the transportation network provider rules by failing to have a valid chauffeur’s license, the necessary insurance coverage, or was otherwise acting inappropriately or recklessly, you may qualify for a Uber lawsuit. The next step would be to contact an Uber accident lawyer Chicago.
An Influx of Uber Drivers
According to the City of Chicago, there are more than 67,000 active rideshare drivers in the City. The increase in drivers has led to a significant number of issues – congestion on streets, a loss in earnings for rideshare drivers, and a decrease in the number of passengers of taxi companies. A big issue is the lack of timeliness of rideshare passengers which has led to backed up traffic on streets while Uber drivers wait. Drivers resort to double parking or sitting in the middle of the street to wait for passengers, but the end result is a line of congested Chicago streets. Before rideshare apps, a passenger went to the street to hail a cab, but with an Uber, you can request a ride from the comfort of your couch, and the driver may arrive before you are ready to go. Regardless of the reason, the City of Chicago is becoming overcrowded with Uber cars.
In response to a large number of drivers, both rideshare and taxi drivers have banded together to seek legislation limiting the number of individuals eligible to drive for Uber which could help increase earnings for all drivers and decrease congestion on the streets of Chicago. Protests began at City Hall in October 2018 to point out the need for a driver limit and initiate a conversation among city residents and politicians.
While this is an ongoing matter, the idea is similar to legislation recently passed in New York City. Faced with the same issues, city officials passed regulations which established a one-year moratorium on new for-hire vehicle licenses. It is likely that metropolitan areas around the area will follow suit.
Hiring a Uber Accident Lawyer Chicago
If you were injured in an accident, sexually assaulted, or harassed in an Uber, it is important that you follow all of the necessary steps of calling law enforcement and seeking medical treatment. After completing those steps, contact an experienced Uber accident lawyer Chicago, IL. At TorHoerman Law, our team of professional lawyers and staff can help you navigate the legal system and answer any questions you may have related to an Uber accident lawsuit.
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