Uber rape case: Liability under a cloud

Online taxi services turn responsibility on to drivers or owners who use their service to connect with customers

December 09, 2014 04:42 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:15 pm IST - CHENNAI

Most online taxi services possibly absolve themselves of any liability in case of personal damage to the passenger under their terms and conditions of service.

They squarely turn the responsibility on to the drivers or owners (referred to as third-party service providers) who use their service to connect with the customers. Users who download mobile Apps (applications) to hire a taxi using such services are in effect complying with the terms.

Uber, which is more an aggregator service that connects the car owners/drivers with the customers, has this to say about liability: “Uber shall not be liable for any damages resulting from the use of (or inability to use) the Website or Application (but to the exclusion of death or personal injury), including damages caused by malware, viruses or any incorrectness or incompleteness of the Information or the Website or Application, unless such damage is the result of any wilful misconduct or from gross negligence on the part of Uber.”

There was no response to an email questionnaire sent to the Uber’s media team on Sunday to further question their liability clause and find out more about their driver checking system, which the website advertises as being robust. There was a brief statement on the official blog (blog.uber.com) that quoted its CEO Travis Kalanick as saying: “We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs.”

Under a section titled ‘safety,’ the Uber website explains how ‘ridesharing insurance coverage’ was on offer to all its users in the U.S. for the duration of their trip. A question whether any such option was considered for India was also not answered.

Another popular call taxi, Ola Cabs, in its terms and conditions (available on www.olacabs.com) puts it bluntly: “The Company shall not be liable for any conduct of the drivers of the taxis. However, the Company encourages you to notify it of any complaints that you may have against the driver of any taxi that you may have hired using the Company's Services.”

Taxi for Sure, in their terms and conditions, states: “TFS (Taxi for Sure)… under no circumstance accepts liability in connection with and/or arising from the transportation services provided by the TPSP or any acts, action, behaviour, conduct, and/or negligence on the part of the TPSP.”

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