Legal Issues in NYC Uber/Lyft Wrecks

Legal Issues in NYC Uber/Lyft Wrecks

Ridesharing crashes in New York are rising disproportionately with the number of users, according to a recent survey.

Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing service vehicles were involved in three times more crashes in 2016 than in 2014, according to a survey by the New York Post. In comparison, black car TLC crashes increased over the same period, although not by nearly as much, while the number of taxicab crashes actually declined.

Predictably, the local taxi industry had a lot to say about these revelations. Nancy Soria, the vice president of Green Taxis of New York, opined that Uber and Lyft drivers are often distracted by cellphones and tablets, especially because many of these drivers accept riders from more than one system. As for black car drivers, Michael Woloz, of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, said that these drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident because they are less experienced and they are not as heavily regulated as taxis.

“The [ridesharing] drivers aren’t paying attention or don’t give a crap,” added Midtown waitress Lindsay O’Brien.

First Party Liability for NYC Car Crashes

Two years ago, more than 430,000 Americans were seriously injured in a distracted driving-related crash. Almost anything can cause at least a momentary distraction that can become fatal, even something as mundane as skipping to the next song on the MP3 player or talking to a passenger. Cellphones and other devices are under increased scrutiny because their use involves all three types of distracted driving:

  • Mental (taking your mind off the road)
  • Visual (taking your eyes off the road)
  • Manual (taking at least one hand off the steering wheel)

The so-called “hands-free” devices that are standard equipment in almost all new cars may not be much better because they still involve at least two of the three categories (visual and mental distraction).

Third Party Liability for Car Accidents in New York

Ridesharing drivers present an interesting respondeat superior question. According to this theory, employers are legally responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of their employees. These motorists typically have almost none of the qualities that are traditionally associated with employees: the ridesharing company does not set the worker’s hours, does not determine the route, and does not even determine whether or not the driver will work for the company.

But there is interaction between the company and its drivers. For example, Uber requires its drivers to abide by certain rules and display a company logo on their windshields. These two things are probably sufficient to satisfy both the “employment” prong and the “course and scope of employment” prong in the respondeat superior test, meaning that injured passengers may be able to sue the company for the driver’s negligence in causing an auto accident.


Ridesharing crashes involve both first party liability questions and third party liability questions. For a free consultation with attorneys who make negligent drivers pay, contact Proner & Proner now. Our main office is located just across from Grand Central Terminal in New York City.


Last year we recovered over $15 million for our clients. With that money, our clients are able to pay their medical bills. They are getting their lives back on track after serious injuries and they are holding to account the people who wrongfully injured them.


$1,100,000.00 - Female, 35: Motorcyclist hit by oncoming traffic

Our client was riding on the back of a motorcycle going south when the defendant heading north made a left hand turn in front of the client, causing the accident.
Injuries: Fractured left leg which required surgery

We understand motorcyclists because we ride


$5,100,000.00 - Female, 43: Cyclist hit by truck

Our client was riding her bicycle when a truck was turning and came up onto the sidewalk. Our client went to back up and the truck struck her.
Injuries: Catastrophic injuries to entire right side of body below the waist resulting in amputation of the right leg and hind quarter; bladder rupture; multiple rib and spinal fractures.

$3,500,000.00 - Female, 33: Serious personal injury

Our client fell down the stairs and was knocked unconscious at a New York City
subway station.
Injuries: Fractured skull, subsequent seizure disorder.

$4,300,000.00 - Male, 63: Pedestrian hit by bus

Our client was crossing a street when a bus hit a car and the car spun and hit him.
Injuries: Traumatic brain injury; fractured shoulder.

$750,000.00 - Male, 35: Workers' compensation

Our client was changing a pump strainer on a hot air furnace when he stepped on a board and fell through the ceiling.
Injuries: Herniated disc which required surgery.

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