Uber Accidents and Medical Emergencies
What to Do if Your Uber Passenger Has a Medical Emergency
Popular television shows, such as Taxicab Confessions, showcased the myriad of idiosyncratic passengers that drivers run into in the transportation industry. Rideshare drivers themselves are treasure troves of entertaining stories and experiences. But when urban legends, such as women giving birth in the back seat become reality, liability becomes an issue.
Uber and Ambulances
Most emergencies happen unexpectedly. Due to the urgency of an emergency, most people call for an ambulance and do not expect their bill to be well over $300 dollars. However, in a survey conducted in 2020, nearly 4 in 10 Americans admitted to borrowing money to cover for a $1,000 charge for going to the ER. Among these participants who dealt with an unexpected hospital expense in the past 12 months, the median amount of the highest charge was $1,750.
Ambulances can be publicly owned, owned by a non-profit, or owned by a municipal organization: but they all charge well over what they usually collect. This is due to the need for emergency medical staff and equipment. An ambulance company may send out several bills to insurance companies, such as Medicare, as well as statements to the sick individual. These bills, however, often end up in collections if the passenger cannot afford to pay.
Rather than deal with the aggravation and inflated fees that come with an ambulance, many people take their chances with an affordable Uber.
People prefer Uber over calling an ambulance because it is:
- Rideshare cars are faster
- A rideshare car may be closer
Does AB5 Change Uber’s Sick Passenger Liability?
Though many passengers have been using rideshare vehicles instead of ambulances, they do not understand the position they’re putting the driver in. With regard to a case where an Uber driver saved a sick man’s life, legal professional Veena Dubal explains, “You’re not liable if you refuse to take them. You’re under no legal obligation to care for them until they get in your car, and then you’re a proprietor conducting business.” She continues, “There have been cases where business owners haven’t protected people from violence who walk onto their property, and the courts have said there’s a special relationship between the business owner and customer, and the business owner acted negligently by not keeping the customer safe. In this case, the business owner would be the Uber driver, once the rider gets into the car.”
This basically means that once the sick person enters your car, you do have a duty of care for that person.
A spokesperson for Uber responded with, “Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals. In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911.”
AB5 has changed the “independent contractor” status to “employee.” If treated the same as other drivers, such as bus drivers or professional drivers, then the company may be held liable in case of an accident. The victim could claim that the company is liable for:
- Respondeat superior
- Negligent hiring or retention
- Negligent lending of a vehicle
- Negligent maintenance of a vehicle
Steps to Take if Your Passenger Gets Sick
As a driver, it is your right to refuse service to anyone. However, after you have allowed them to enter your vehicle, you do owe that passenger a duty of care. Listed below are a few steps to take in case your passenger gets sick while you’re en route.
- Assess the situation. Verbally communicate with the passenger to check their level of coherency.
- Pull the car over. Pulling over to a safe space is important, as the motion of the car could further harm a passenger who’s sick.
- Call 911. Alleviate all liability by calling medical professionals who are trained to deal with these situations.
Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:
- Emotional Distress
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
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