Stumbles at Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft, which once seemed ready to gallop to domination of the rideshare economy, have stumbled recently.  As Lyft and Uber lawyers, we took notice.

The stumbles for Uber have been most obvious.  A grassroots social media campaign has rallied around the hashtag “#deleteuber” to protest what many see as sexual discrimination in the company culture and hardball tactics from corporate executives.  Thousands of users deleted the app, and use of the hashtag spread around the globe.  Uber acknowledged that it was “deeply hurting” as a result.

Lyft has tried to take advantage of Uber’s missteps in the race to rideshare domination.  Lyft has been able to secure additional funding as the smaller company steps up its efforts to compete.  But Lyft has had problems too.  In Massachusetts, where the state government imposed stricter background check requirements on Lyft and Uber drivers, an estimated 8,000 drivers—some who drove for Uber, and some who drove for Lyft—have been banned from driving.

Uber Hacking Its Own Customers and Lyft’s Drivers?

Uber has been in hot water.  It looks like Uber added certain “fingerprinting” code to its iPhone app, which enabled Uber to track their customers even after the customers deleted Uber’s app.  Then there was the coverup: to prevent Apple from finding out, Uber altered the code so that it wouldn’t appear when it was viewed from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.  Apple CEO Tim Cook was not pleased when he found out.

That wasn’t the end of it.  A lawsuit filed by a Lyft driver alleges that Uber created a sneaky program—internally called “Hell”—that allowed Uber to track Lyft drivers without their consent, in part to learn more about Lyft’s operating area and in part to learn what drivers were working for both Uber and Lyft.  The case may become a class action.  If the allegations are true, Uber may be in some trouble.

Uber and “Greyball”

Uber has come under fire for deliberately providing false information to law enforcement officials in cities, regions, or countries that opposed its entry in to the market.  Using a program it called “Greyball,” Uber would identify persons whom it believed were law enforcement officials based upon the times and places from which those people usually traveled.  Then, if those officials tried to use the Uber app to see how Uber was working in their jurisdictions, Uber populated the map on the officials’ screens with ‘fake’ cars and arranged for any real cars to cancel rides that had been offered, according to the New York Times.  Reportedly, Uber’s in-house legal team signed off on this Greyball program.  Looking back, they probably wish they hadn’t.

Lyft or Uber Accident Insurance

Despite their troubles, Lyft and Uber have maintained their commitment to protecting drivers and passengers in the event of an accident.  As any Lyft or Uber lawyer knows, that is good news for anyone who has been involved in a collision.  Both companies provide liability insurance to protect passengers if the Uber or Lyft is at fault, and both companies provide uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”) insurance to protect passengers and drivers if another driver is at fault for the collision.

For other types of Uber rides, such as UberBLACK, UberSUV, or UberTAXI, commercial insurance may be available.

Lyft or Uber Evidence

Both companies save mountains of electronic and GPS data, and in the event of a Lyft or Uber accident, a good Lyft or Uber lawyer should go after that data.  The company should preserve the data voluntarily, on its own—but in case that doesn’t happen, an experienced Lyft or Uber lawyer will remind the company to preserve that electronic and GPS evidence.  At Butler Tobin, we get that message across by whatever means necessary.

 Talking with a Lyft and Uber Lawyer

When it comes to handling a Lyft or Uber accident, Butler Tobin has experience and know-how.  Talk to us for free at 404-JUSTICE, or send us an email at