Uber is now legal in NSW. Whether you are a driver or a passenger of the popular ride-sharing service, it is important that you take some time to understand your rights. Below, we set out four things to know before you request a driver.

1. Uber’s Responsibility For Your Driver Is Limited

Uber requires all customers agree to their terms and conditions before using the service. This limits Uber’s responsibility for your driver’s quality, safety, suitability and ability. For example, if your driver overcharges you for a ride, Uber may remove or revise your charges. Although, they have no obligation to do so. 

Further, if you find yourself subject to an assault in an Uber vehicle, you can charge and prosecute your driver. However, you will most likely be unable to recover any compensation from the company. In 2014, this unfortunate incident occurred in India. Uber denied any responsibility for the criminal actions of the driver. Like taxi companies, Uber can respond by taking away the driver’s ability to work. Taxi companies will have an insurance policy to cover and compensate victims in the event of an assault. However, Uber’s insurance policy is controlled by each individual driver.

When you accept the terms and conditions, you acknowledge that you may expose yourself to situations involving unsafe, offensive or objectionable drivers and that you do so at your own risk. If your driver is negligent and has a collision that injures you in some way, Uber has no obligation to accept responsibility. You would need to pursue the individual driver to receive any compensation and the amount that you receive is dependent upon that driver’s insurance policy. 

2. You Are Responsible For Any Damage That You Cause In The Driver’s Car

Uber does not accept responsibility for any damage a passenger causes to a driver’s vehicle. The company’s terms and conditions instead state that the passenger will have to pay any damages exceeding usual wear and tear that they cause in the driver’s vehicle. If you do damage the driver’s car, then you also may receive a bad rating from the driver, which will impair your ability to book other rides using the service in the future.

3. Drivers Are Not Entitled to Holiday or Sick Pay

Since Uber drivers are self-employed and independent third-party contractors, drivers have no rights to holiday or sick leave. Problems can then arise for drivers looking to drive for Uber as a replacement for full-time work.

4. Drivers Have a Limited Course of Action When a Dispute Arises

If a driver finds themselves in a dispute with the ride-sharing company, they are only allowed to conduct the dispute through mediation or arbitration. According to Uber’s terms and conditions, the mediation or arbitration must occur in Amsterdam. This may render the dispute either pointless to argue or very expensive to pursue. 

So, Should I Use Uber or Not?

Before using Uber, we encourage you to read their terms and conditions. Drivers are still subject to basic training and background checks, and the drivers operate on a rating based system. Passengers can see the driver’s ratings, and the company carefully monitors these ratings and feedback.

If you are a passenger, you should be aware of Uber’s pricing policies such as surge pricing. For example, it was reported that on New Year’s Eve, Uber rides cost between 8 or 9 times the usual amount due to higher demand. The company gave passengers notice of the possibility of higher surcharges, and before New Years Eve, warned users of the excess fees. Passengers were required to ‘accept’ the surcharge by manually entering the surcharge multiplier before booking a ride.

We anticipate legalisation in NSW will see the company continue to refine its services. And this can only benefit users avoiding driving in Sydney’s congested traffic!

Questions? Get in touch on 1300 544 755.

Lachlan McKnight
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