By: Joseph Cammarata
A report released by
The Wall Street Journal earlier this month found that Uber knowingly leased unsafe vehicles to
drivers in Singapore. Investigative journalists were tipped off to the
issue after the dashboard of an Uber driver’s recalled Honda Vezel
caught on fire, melted the vehicle’s interior, and damaged its windshield.
The driver had just dropped off a passenger prior to noticing the smell of smoke.
According to the report, Uber had purchased over 1,000 defective Honda
Vezels, which were recalled in April of 2016 due to a faulty electrical
component that posed risks of overheating and fires. While Uber knew the
cars had been recalled and that they required repairs in order to make
them safe, the rideshare company continued to lease the vehicles to drivers
without making any fixes.
A review of internal company e-mails and documents, as well as interviews
with individuals familiar with Uber’s Asia operations, showed executives
clearly knew the vehicles had been recalled, but did not want to take
them off the road. Company executives stated that removing the unsafe
vehicles from the road would disrupt the market.
Because the local government requires vehicle owners to purchase certificates
of entitlement, which can cost in excess of $40,000, owning a vehicle
in Singapore is extremely expensive. As such, Uber created a division
to lease cars in order to get more drivers on the road. However, rather
than purchasing vehicles from authorized dealers, the company imported
used cars from smaller dealers in the “gray market,” where
enforcement of safety standards are not a priority. One of those dealers
did not make repairs to the recalled Honda Vezels before they were sold
to Uber. Despite Uber knowing the issue and calling for the dealer to
quickly make repairs, it still leased the unsafe cars to drivers, and
also failed to warn drivers of the safety issues.
Uber officials have stated they have taken action to swiftly address the
problem, but acknowledge that the company could have done more. The company
claims to have implemented new protocol and to have hired experts to specifically
deal with issues involving vehicle safety recalls.
Product Liability & Auto Recalls
Uber’s questionable conduct in Singapore calls attention to the company’s
responsibilities as a rideshare service that promises safe rides to customers.
Aside from being liable for rider injuries that result from
car accidents caused by driver error, the company also has a legal obligation to ensure
the safety of its vehicles. This includes ensuring any safety recalls
are immediately addressed.
product liability laws, product manufacturers, distributors, and other entities that make
products available on the public market have a duty to ensure those products
do not pose unreasonable safety risks. Often, companies are held liable
for injuries that result from situations where they knew, or should have
known, about potential dangers, yet did nothing to fix them. This was
precisely the case in Uber’s leasing of recalled vehicles known
to have not been repaired.
As a personal injury law firm serving clients throughout Washington, DC,
Virginia, and Maryland, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.
has handled many cases involving defective products. Whether they are
cases involving defective auto parts, motor vehicles, or consumer products,
we work to protect the rights of victims who suffer injuries as a result
of failures to address known safety hazards. These cases not only allow
victims to secure justice and compensation for their damages, but also
play a vital role in compelling changes in protocol, forcing companies
to address safety risks, and protecting the public from suffering harm
in similar situations.
Handling these type of cases is no easy matter, as they are commonly aggressively
defended against by corporations with extensive assets. These corporations
are more concerned with their bottom line than they are about victims,
and they work to pay as little as possible, if anything at all. By working
with experienced lawyers like those at our firm, victims and families
can benefit from the resources and insight needed to level the playing
field and pursue the compensation they rightfully deserve.
If you have questions about
auto accidents, and your rights following a preventable injury, our legal team is available
to help. We offer free consultations to residents across the DC Metro
area, and can assist you in learning about your right to pursue a personal
Contact us to request your free case evaluation.