The Uber Driver Shooting Case
Posted in Atlanta,Car Accidents,Personal Injury,Sexual Assault and Rape,Wrongful Death on August 13, 2021
Attorney Rod Dixon describes a case of an Uber driver shooting. An Uber Eats delivery driver shot and killed a man outside of his own home. The rideshare company tried to avoid our client’s case going to court.
Increased Rideshare Shootings
Earlier in the year, another Uber driver shot multiple passengers in his vehicle, killing one, after a dispute in an Atlanta gas station. With a surprising and tragic rise in violent incidents involving rideshare drivers, it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities and rights as a passenger. Checking the box and using their services ties you to their arbitration clause. Even without completely reading the rideshare company’s terms and conditions.
We’ll discuss why big companies favor arbitration over a juried court. And why that may not always be in their favor. Attorney Dixon breaks down details of our client’s case that explain why victims of Uber driver shooting, battery, or accidents may be able to have their cases judged by a jury of their peers.
We hope you’ll NEVER be involved in a rideshare accident or assault victim, and encourage you to stay informed about the legalities of rideshare violence. We’ll continue to seek justice for those who are tragically affected by these incidents, anywhere in Georgia!
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Rideshare Accident vs. Rideshare Assault
Rod Dixon: I think the best way to categorize it is just as you indicated a rideshare assault or rideshare battery–the law might call it that. There are obviously rideshare accidents that occur where one car hits another car, and it’s a truly accidental situation. But in a situation like this, the driver of the rideshare vehicle is committing an act, an intentional act of violence against a customer or against a patron. Or someone who is outside the vehicle even. And so we would call these rideshare assaults. There’s nothing accidental about a driver who pulls a gun or a knife on someone or physically assaults them.
Rod Dixon: Well, that’s where the law can get a little murky, especially for the layperson. So Uber, Lyft, all of these rideshare companies that exist, even the delivery companies that exist, attempt to categorize their drivers as independent contractors. And they do that because under the law, the company is not legally responsible for the acts of an independent contractor. The independent contractor is just that, in theory, independent. And so he or she is responsible for his or her own actions.
So you have the independent contractor status that these rideshare companies attempt to push with the drivers. To some degree that works for them. And to another degree, it doesn’t. Because the companies are also responsible for vetting these drivers. In other words, they can’t allow someone to drive for them who.
For example, in Georgia does not pass a legally required background check. And so there are circumstances where the rideshare company can be responsible for their bad acts. Including their violent bad acts in a situation where the background check was not appropriate. Or in other certain circumstances. Even though they want to categorize these drivers as independent. So just because the independent contractor aspect out there exists doesn’t mean the rideshare company is completely off the hook.
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What Does Arbitration Mean
Rod Dixon: Arbitration is a process where parties who are in conflict, go to someone to decide who should win that conflict, who should prevail in that conflict. The issue with arbitrations is those big companies are the ones who typically will pay the arbitrators. It can be, but it’s not necessarily good for the consumer.
If we understand human nature, we kind of think the arbitrator may tend to favor the company that’s paying him and that’s going to hire him over and over again. Rather than the one person who will be before this arbitrator only once in his or her lifetime. The rideshare companies and other companies in this country are more and more pushing arbitration because they feel like they have better control over the arbitrators. That the arbitrators may award less than a jury.
Everyone who signs up for a rideshare company ostensibly agrees to be bound by arbitration, rather than being able to pursue their case in court. Uber has recently decided that sexual assault victims can pursue their cases in court, in other words, they won’t attempt to enforce their arbitration agreements against sexual assault victims. Curiously enough, they have not made such a decision with respect to people who have been shot, or stabbed, and killed by their drivers. And so maybe that’s coming. But for now, rideshare companies still insist that those victims of shootings or stabbings still must go through arbitration to pursue their claims.
Terms and Conditions
Rod Dixon: It’s a link that no one clicks. But I will warn you, though, even though no one clicks that, that that doesn’t mean you don’t have some responsibility there. And so that’s a little bit deeper than we need to get into right now, but be cognizant of the terms and conditions when you sign up not just for a rideshare company, but for any company. When you utilize any company’s app, be conscious of the fact that there are potentially terms and conditions that you’re agreeing to.
If you’re a victim of an accident, a car accident victim of a crime, and you have a case to pursue, you probably want to pursue that case in court, where you will have a jury of your peers determine whether the defendant is responsible for your injuries. On the other hand, if you’re a big corporation, you would rather probably rather not have a jury of the victim’s peers and your peers as well. But you would probably rather not have a jury decide that issue for you. Because you believe that an arbitrator is going to be more favorable to you.
Now, I will say that doesn’t necessarily play out in real life, because what we tend to see are jurors and juries who are fair and appropriate to both parties under the circumstances. But the reality is our Constitution, and the Seventh Amendment to our Constitution guarantees us the right to a trial by jury and the forefathers, the founders of this country put that right into the constitution for a reason. That’s because it is the best-known system that has existed in human history for settling disputes.
As trial lawyers, we fight to protect the right to trial by jury. We believe it is a fundamental right of American citizenship. That’s why this fight that we have at the Court of Appeals is important. That’s why when we see situations involving arbitration clauses, we don’t just bow down and say yes, that’s the way it’s going to go. We fight for our clients and their right to present their cases to a jury.
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Rod Dixon: Our client was shot and killed by an Uber Eats delivery driver without provocation. And we brought a lawsuit, even though there was this arbitration clause that we knew the rideshare company was going to point to. We brought a case in state court here in Georgia, asserting our client’s rights to a trial by jury. The rideshare company did not like that and did not agree with it. They sought to have the case sent to arbitration. Well, we were able to prevail in the court of appeals. The Court of Appeals says that our client deserved to present his case to a jury. That’s the immediate impact of our fight for a jury trial for our client and that circumstance. We are continuing that fight.
Basically, the Court of Appeals determined that there was an issue of fact as to whether our client actually agreed to the terms and conditions in signing up for the rideshare application.
To give you a bit of the facts, at the time when you went into the app to sign up, at the bottom of the page of the screen there’s a link to terms and conditions.
Prior to the bottom of the page, you have to input your credit card. And so if you input your credit card, the link to the terms and conditions is covered by the keyboard. How can you say someone agreed to the terms and conditions when the link to the terms and conditions was covered by the keyboard? That’s basically why our client now has the right to present his case in court. Because the terms and conditions link probably wasn’t visible to him.
Setting a New Legal Precedence
Could that set a precedent for anybody who possibly could have a case around that same time? The answer to that is maybe. Uber, in this case, has now changed how the terms and conditions are presented. And you actually have to agree to the terms and conditions before you actually input your credit card information. And so there is now no problem with the keyboard covering it.
This raises the broader, broader topic of why we do what we do as Injury Lawyers, as trial lawyers. The cynical view is that we’re out for money. When we are talking about damages and holding a defendant accountable, we are talking about money in the immediate effect. But in the long term effect, a lot of what we do has an impact on how things operate in society generally. And so what can happen in one case, where a victim receives compensation can have an impact on millions of cases, potential cases or circumstances. And this one case could actually serve to prevent other injuries and other situations down the line.
Experienced Uber Rideshare Assault Lawyer
When you have the ability to do it, contact a lawyer and just talk it through. There are circumstances where someone who does this type of work like myself will say, you know, I hear you I’m sorry that you went through this, but there is no legal remedy. There’s nothing the law can do for you. The civil side of the law.
But then there are circumstances that may be complicated and may require some thought–some creativity. Then we say, “Hey, we can take a deeper look at this.” And maybe we can come up with a way to help because what happened in this circumstance is a tragedy. This type of thing should not happen to somebody else. Where we see a circumstance where we say “this should not happen to somebody else.” That’s when we jump in and say, let’s go to work.
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