If an Uber Driver Robs a Customer’s House, is Uber Liable?

Joe: 106.7 “WIZN.” That’s Kansas, “Carry On Wayward Son.” Heard the Who before that. Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday “Rocking your Ride Home.” So I did it. I called my friend, Ben Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Got him on the phone right now. Ben, how are you doing?
Benjamin: I’m doing well, Joe. How are you or…

Joe: You’re probably wondering why I’m calling?

Benjamin: I am. Are you okay?

Joe: Yeah. No, I’m fine.

Benjamin: You’re not in jail?

Joe: I’m not in jail, dude. Thanks for asking though. I appreciate that. But no, I got a question for you. This is something I’m gonna do on the air FYI. I was just doing this story about this Uber driver. I don’t know if you know the story, but this is in California. And the Uber driver, right, he picks these people up at their house. It was actually an Airbnb. But he picks them up; he drives them to the airport. As soon as he drops them off, he goes back to the house, tries to break in, can’t break in because the security alarm goes off. But then because he’s a stupid criminal, he goes down the street and robs another house. And, of course, all this is caught on camera. But my question was the people who own the home; can they sue this guy, can they sue Uber?

Benjamin: That’s a good question. Did you say we’re on the air?

Joe: Yeah, we’re on the air.

Benjamin: Okay. Okay.

Joe: So I’m putting you on a spot, buddy?

Benjamin: Not a problem. You can call me anytime, you know that. So Uber, I don’t think has any liability here. Now, my understanding is that this took place in California, and so I can’t speak directly on California law because I don’t practice there, but…

Joe: Right. Let’s say it happened in Vermont or New York.

Benjamin: Yeah. And it’d probably be the same situation. Uber doesn’t have any liability. The homeowners probably can’t sue Uber unless Uber had some knowledge that this person was out there committing crimes, and they failed to act accordingly. My understanding is that this person was probably discontinued as an Uber driver shortly after Uber was made aware of the arrest. The homeowners could likely have a claim against this person who attempted to rob their home or burglarized their home. But they would probably have to show some level of property damage that occurred in his attempt to break in.

Joe: I got you. So is it breaking and entering if he doesn’t actually break into the home if he just tries to?

Benjamin: Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely a trespass there, certainly the attempt of the crime, and the trespass in and of itself is actionable in terms of the people asking him for restitution. That’s usually resolved through the criminal court system. He’s going to be charged, booked, all of these things, and the criminal process will play out. And oftentimes, individuals will have an opportunity to ask for restitution that will kind of all be packaged up in that criminal action as opposed to having two different things, like he was convicted of breaking and entering, and then I have to sue him in a civil court. Usually the court tries to restore the justice all through that one criminal proceeding. So if he did break a window, the individuals will get the money back for the window, probably through the fines and surcharges and restitution that he’s required to pay through the criminal process.

Joe: Gotcha. All right. Well, that certainly explains it.

Benjamin: And also, just stop breaking and entering.

Joe: No. Right. There’s that too. I just want you to know if I ever do get arrested, you will be the first person I call.

Benjamin: Okay. And this was just you were just asking for a friend, right?

Joe: Yeah. Exactly. Okay. Thanks, buddy. By the way, just for going on the air for me, we’ll throw your numbers out there. It’s 1800LAW1010, right? This is the number to call and ask for Ben Barry?

Benjamin: Yes. Yeah, ask for Ben Barry.

Joe: All right. And the web address is 1800law1010.com, correct?

Benjamin: Sure is, Joe.

Joe: All right. There it is. Ben Barry, everyone from Plattsburgh, New York. Thanks, Ben.

Benjamin: Hey, thank you, Joe.

Joe: All right. There you go. Benjamin Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. All right. I’m out of here. I’ll talk to you again tomorrow. Mel Allen taking over. He’s got music from Foreigner and Red Rider next.