The History of the Uber Accident in San Francisco
Welcome to the Uber accident section of the Sally Morin Law: San Francisco personal injury attorneys' blog. In this article, we discuss the major Uber accidents in San Francisco and how safe or unsafe it is to ride Uber here.
Uber was born in San Francisco. The tech start-up promised to radically change the way we get from one place to another. However, several high profile Uber accidents here in San Francisco—the home of the rideshare revolution—highlight the very real danger of relying on drivers who are not professionals. While some Uber accidents in San Francisco are laughable (like the Uber driver who got stuck on a on a pedestrian staircase), some are tragic and leave families shattered.
Sadly, the long history of Uber accidents in San Francisco stretches far back—almost to the birth of the company itself. And while many people say that Uber offers safe alternative transportation, the paying public should not be fooled into thinking that Uber is a professional transportation service. Indeed, many transportation agencies and cabbie unions across the country are fighting for tougher regulations for Uber and its drivers. While some of the motivation behind this pushback against ridesharing is likely financial, some of the points raised concerning the safety, reliability, and professionalism of Uber drivers are indeed valid.
The Tragic Trail of Uber Accidents
Uber's First Fatality Accident in San Francisco
One of the first fatal Uber accidents in San Francisco happened in 2014 and forced lawmakers, Uber executives, and the public in general to reconsider how we all must view ridesharing. When a young girl was struck and killed by an Uber driver, the company refused to pay the victim's surviving family members, arguing that driver was not a company employee and was not "on the clock" at the time of the crash. The family took Uber to court and eventually won a landmark verdict which forced Uber to rewrite its insurance policy to include coverage for victims injured in Uber accidents while drivers had their apps open whether or not they had a paying passenger in the vehicle at the time.
This tragic accident also forced California to reconsider how it viewed all ridesharing applications. The legal liability loopholes that these companies were using up to that point were effectively closed and the companies themselves are now held to a higher standard of accountability. However, many are quick to point out that even after the changes spurred by this fatal Uber accident in San Francisco, ridesharing companies (and the drivers who effectively work for them) are held to much more lenient standards than tradition transportation service.
For example, Uber drivers:
- Aren't subject to additional licensing above and beyond a California state driver's license
- Don't need to undergo any special training
- Aren't required to pass any additional exams
- Aren't subject to annual, random, or scheduled inspections
And as the company evolves that growth brings with it a whole host of new dangers.
Uber's First Self-Driving Accident in San Francisco
In another landmark first, the first Uber accident involving a self-driving or autonomous vehicle happened right here in San Francisco. In 2017 the automobile in question was involved in a crash at an intersection. While neither the car's software nor the driver behind the wheel at the time were held at fault for the accident, the crash made headlines across the country and brought the safety of autonomous cars back into the forefront of the American consciousness.
Since then other people have suffered tragedies as Uber strives to put its self-driving cars on the roads. Earlier this year a pedestrian was killed in Arizona after being struck by a self-driving car. An investigation revealed that the car's software did indeed identify the pedestrian but failed to send a signal that would have stopped the car in time to avoid striking the individual.
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Uber Drivers in San Francisco Aren't Any Safer than Anyone Else
The real takeaway from any story about an Uber accident in San Francisco is that Uber drivers aren't any safer than you or I when they get behind the wheel. Why? Because they're not professional drivers. They're at the mercy of any and all "contributing factors" while behind the wheel just like us.
- Uber drivers have been arrested for drunk driving.
- Uber drivers have crashed while distracted by technology inside the car.
- Uber drivers have crashed in poor visibility.
- Uber drivers have injured passengers while speeding.
Unfortunately, many of us enjoy a false sense of security when we slip into an Uber. We think that because this driver is associated with a world-wide ridesharing company that they're somehow less likely to be involved in a car crash than they actually are. However, even Uber itself is quick to point out that its drivers are not employees—they're third-party service providers (freelancers). The company doesn't effectively vouch for any of their drivers.
Yes, Uber does subject drivers to background checks. And the company will hold drivers accountable after a complaint is filed against them. However, even those processes are fallible. For example, there is a ton of content online that instructs individuals how to bypass Uber's initial background screening. Additionally, there are dozens of stories from real Uber passengers who have failed to see any real response from the company even after serious allegations were filed against specific drivers.
In short, passengers are given no real protection (other than Uber's Insurance Policy) while they're at the mercy of drivers that may or may not even be fit to drive. That's a good thing to remember the next time you fire up your phone and are about to request that ride.
If you or someone you care about has suffered serious injury due to an Uber accident in San Francisco, contact us by getting a FREE online case evaluation now.