This is the next post in a series of articles discussing lawsuits involving Uber and its drivers in Fort Worth, Texas. Our previous article explained what victims and their families can expect during a trial if the case proceeds to litigation. Uber lawsuits can involve complicated issues of fact and legal theories of liability, especially when the victim is suing the company itself. It is essential, therefore, to retain a law firm with the experience and resources necessary to effectively represent you at trial. In this article, we will address another very serious issue: Uber’s liability for the criminal behavior of their drivers. If you are the victim of a crime committed by a rideshare driver, contact law enforcement immediately to report the incident. As soon as possible, contact a lawyer to evaluate whether you may have a claim against the rideshare company for failing to meet its passenger safety legal requirements.
As the use of Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services increases, states are becoming more and more concerned with passenger safety. In Texas and elsewhere in the country, laws and regulations require rideshare companies to screen their drivers in advance for criminal offenses. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation governs rideshare companies operating within the state. The agency has issued regulations that require rideshare companies to perform criminal background checks annually for their drivers. Texas law prohibits Uber from hiring drivers with convictions of certain crimes, including DUIs, terrorism, felonies related to violence and sex offenders. Despite these efforts to protect passenger safety, there have been numerous reports of passengers being physically and sexually assaulted by their drivers.
Under certain circumstances, victims of criminal acts by Uber drivers may pursue a legal claim against Uber itself. In typical cases involving a commercial driver, for example, the company employing the driver may be held liable for the actions of its employee. If the employer was negligent in hiring the driver, for instance, the victim may make a claim against the employer in addition to the driver. Uber drivers, however, are considered independent contractors rather than employees under Texas law. This may make it more difficult to pursue legal claims against Uber directly. However, if the company failed to comply with applicable laws regarding driver screening or passenger safety, suing the company directly may be possible under a theory of negligent hiring or supervision. An experienced attorney can review your case and investigate any possible claims against Uber on your behalf.
When selecting a law firm to represent you, we suggest locating a firm with multiple attorneys with significant trial experience. We also recommend law firms who employ on-site investigators and have the financial resources available to challenge large corporations and their defense teams, whether during settlement negotiations or at trial. These recommendations apply regardless of whether the incident took place in Fort Worth, Dallas, or another Texas area.