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Uber Leased Recalled Vehicles to Drivers Without Repairs, Report Shows

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.

DC Auto Accident AttorneyAccording 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.

Under 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 defective products, 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 injury claim. Contact us to request your free case evaluation.