When my LAXit shuttle pulled into the lot where airport passengers could book Lyft or Uber vehicles, I saw a large billboard for an accident attorney with the lawyer’s promotional text, accompanied by the Uber and Lyft logos. Good placement, I thought. The ad was certainly positioned to reach its target audience.
It was not until I climbed into the backseat of my ride and saw the same ads plastered to the partition separating me from the driver that I began to think it weird. Why would a lawyer representing accident victims injured in an Uber or Lyft ride, place ads in the Uber and Lyft vehicles? I mean, I’d become awfully wary if I saw medical malpractice attorneys advertising in my doctor’s office!
Hilariously, the rideshare accident ads also say, “Don’t forget to tip your driver.” It seems almost conspiratorial.
Do you really want an automobile driver being paid to post stickers that promote an attorney who makes money from car accidents arising from rideshare collisions? It would inspire more confidence if ads for safe driving schools adorned the cars, instead.
On the other hand, perhaps the ads are a form of insurance. Maybe the driver’s subtle message is that he has so much faith he’ll never be in an accident, that he’ll help you sue him, if he is. He has extra incentive to drive carefully knowing that a costly lawsuit awaits him, if he doesn’t.
But that’s the thing, the lawsuit wouldn’t cost the driver, would it? No judgment or settlement money is likely to come from his own pocket. No, a lawsuit might cost the driver’s insurance company and, if all goes right for the litigant, it will definitely cost Uber or Lyft. That begs the question: does Uber and Lyft know these ads are in the rideshare vehicle? Do they condone them?
You could say that it’s none of their business. These controlling companies vehemently insist that they are not employers. If the drivers don’t work for them, then it’s none of their business what ads are in the drivers’ cars. With few employee protections, shouldn’t the drivers be able to make additional money any way they can? I support their right to do so.
Still the ads rub me the wrong way. Their presence speaks of a type of self-dealing by the driver. And, conversely, in a world of vexatious litigation, they seem to whisper, “sue, sue, find a reason to sue” to the passengers. They plant a seed, putting the idea of a lawsuit in a rider’s head, before there’s reason to bring one. Hmmm. Is that a breeze I’m feeling on my neck or is it whiplash?
It seems to me that Uber and Lyft drivers should have been waving banners advertising for Labor Lawyers fighting against Proposition 22 (the ballot initiative that allowed rideshare and delivery companies to avoid providing full employee benefits to their workers), not for personal injury lawyers looking to represent parties involved in a rideshare crash.
I’d prefer not to get into a car filled with signs portending an accident that’s waiting to happen.