UberPOOL lets you shave a bit of money off your ride by sharing the car with other passengers headed in the same direction. As with any situation involving strangers put together in a confined space, there exists the possibility of everything from awkward silence to romance to violence. The question is: Should Uber be held responsible when an UberPOOL ride goes horribly, horribly wrong?
On Jan. 30, a woman named Jennifer hailed an UberPOOL ride in Chicago. She was in the backseat while another passenger that Jennifer had never met before, a woman named Julie, sat in the front.
According to Jennifer, this other woman lunged at her with a knife, resulting in multiple small lacerations to Jennifer’s face. Julie was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery while Jennifer was taken to the hospital.
This week, Jennifer — who claims the attack was unprovoked — filed a lawsuit naming both Julie and Uber as defendants.
The allegations against Julie are straightforward — assault and battery — while the complaint [PDF] accuses Uber of negligence, saying the company “was in the best position to know… the background, criminal history, and/or violent propensities of persons using UberPOOL.”
Jennifer contends that Uber failed to have policies or training in police for drivers to “prevent, mitigate, and/or manage physical altercations” between UberPOOL passengers.
The lawsuit seeks damages from Uber of at least $50,000, in part to cover the medical expenses that Uber’s insurance has — according to Jennifer’s lawyer — refused to cover.
“Uber has a responsibility to our community,” Camacho’s attorney Bryant Greening, of LegalRideshare — a firm specializing in cases involving companies like Uber and Lyft. “It is imperative that rideshare companies ensure safe experiences for all Chicagoans. They have a duty to protect against harm and an obligation to help injured customers.”
In response to a CBS Chicago story on the lawsuit, a rep for Uber said the alleged knife attack was an “altercation between two riders that didn’t involve Uber.”