AB5, Uber, and Sick Passenger Liabilty

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nullWhen you drive for a rideshare app, it is a great way to make extra money while behind the wheel of your vehicle. However, the fact remains that you never know exactly who will be stepping into your vehicle during the day or night. While most of your trips will be fine, others may involve passengers who are sick when they step into your vehicle or become sick along the way. When this happens, liability will suddenly become a serious issue for you. While you may want to help the person any way you can, making the wrong move could put you in legal peril. However, with the recent passage of the AB5 regulation in California, additional laws may be in place during these unusual instances. If you are an Uber driver and find yourself facing complex liability issues due to a sick passenger, contact a personal injury attorney Newport Beach residents trust from Accident Lawyer’s Firm.

You are Not an Ambulance Service

While it may sound crazy to you, many people have started calling Uber instead of an ambulance when they have a medical emergency. Since a typical ambulance ride will result in a bill of at least $300, many people use Uber because it is cheaper. However, it is vital you remember Uber is not an ambulance service, and you are thus not obligated to provide service to or help the person in any way in these situations. If you are experiencing legal issues due to such a situation, speak with a rideshare lawyer.

AB5 and Liability

With the passage of AB5 in California, Uber drivers have much more liability protection than before. Under the provisions of AB5, an Uber driver is not liable when refusing service to a customer. However, once you choose to accept them as a passenger, you are considered to be a proprietor conducting business, and thus have a legal obligation to care for them. In legal terms, you have accepted a duty of care for the passenger. Our attorneys are well-versed in this new regulation, and you can contact them for further information on your rights if you are an app-based driver.

No Longer an Independent Contractor

Under the terms of AB5, independent contractors should be treated as employees, meaning they are eligible for benefits and unemployment. It also means that the company can be held liable for their employees’ eligibility. 

However, the rideshare giants Uber and Lyft were heavily against these regulations, and Proposition 22 re-classified app-based drivers as independent contractors. This helps the rideshare apps shirk responsibility when there’s a rideshare lawsuit. 

Because of this, Uber and Lyft are protected against lawsuits for their drivers’ negligence. This means that even more focus is put on you, the driver, when something goes wrong.

What if a Passenger Gets Sick?

If you have accepted a passenger’s request for service in your Uber vehicle, you owe them the duty of care that often arises in negligence cases. Should your passenger become sick during the trip, always make sure you make every attempt to speak with the passenger to assess their coherency. Along with this, quickly pull the car over to a safe spot off the road and immediately call 911. A button to call 911 is easily accessible in the app. 

Once you make this call, you have fulfilled your duty of care, and alleviate most if not all of your potential liability issues. Should a sick passenger still accuse you of negligence after taking these steps, speak with Uber and Lyft accident lawyers Newport Beach residents consult regularly for issues like this.

Suing for Damages

If a sick passenger does follow through on a lawsuit against you and your company, they will attempt to gain financial compensation for various damages. These usually include: 

  • medical bills
  • lost wages
  • emotional distress
  • pain and suffering
  • other related damages. 

Rather than find yourself being ordered to pay a sick passenger thousands of dollars in damages, do everything possible to show you acted in a reasonable manner and fulfilled your duty of care. In short, you have to prove that you acted the way the average person would in the situation.

By working with a personal injury professional, they can help you gather the evidence needed to show the incident was handled in a manner consistent with what a person who relied on common sense and good judgment would do under similar circumstances.

Beware of Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant has shown gross negligence or malice towards the plaintiff. In especially egregious cases like these, punitive damages are an additional compensation meant to ensure the defendant does not act similarly again.

When dealing with a sick passenger as an Uber driver, always keep in mind the possibility a victim could seek punitive damages in a lawsuit. While only awarded in about five percent of all cases, the additional compensation you pay due to punitive damages can be in the thousands. 

Since these damages are aimed at punishing a person’s behavior, always make sure you act as you should with a sick passenger. 

Doing Your Job

Since the last thing you expect to encounter while driving for Uber is a life-threatening emergency, you may give little thought as to how you would handle such a situation. However, this can prove to be your downfall from a legal standpoint. 

Should you panic and fail to call 911, force the passenger to exit your vehicle, or commit other acts when faced with these unexpected developments, you will need the services of accident lawyers Newport Beach residents rely on for help in these matters.

Don’t Be the Fall Guy

In many of these situations, the ridesharing company will do everything it can to make you the fall guy for what took place. If this happens, look to a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in protecting citizens’ rights in rideshare cases. If you know you did everything possible to keep a sick passenger’s situation from spiraling out of control, schedule a consultation at once with Uber and Lyft accident lawyers Newport Beach clients trust at Accident Lawyers Firm.

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