In a recent incident in Hollywood, Florida, an Uber driver named Christopher Bernadel faced no charges for the fatal shooting of his 19-year-old passenger, Miles McGlashan. The incident took place in November 2022, and Bernadel was officially cleared of any wrongdoing in June 2023 by the Broward State Attorney's Office. The decision has ignited debate about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" laws and the safety of ride-share services.
The events unfolded when Bernadel picked up McGlashan for an Uber ride. A disagreement over the destination address led McGlashan to abruptly cancel the ride near Oak Street and North Park Road. After exiting the car and slamming the door, McGlashan was confronted by Bernadel, who questioned his disrespectful behavior. Bernadel, who was wearing glasses at the time, reported that McGlashan assaulted him by landing multiple punches on his head.
Fearing for his life, Bernadel, a licensed concealed weapons carrier, retrieved his firearm and shot McGlashan once in the chest. McGlashan fled to a nearby gated community, where he was later discovered and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital. Unfortunately, he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
Upon arrival, law enforcement officials observed that Bernadel had facial injuries consistent with his account of the incident. Bernadel also fully cooperated with the police during the investigation. Citing Florida law, which allows the use of deadly force for self-defense without the obligation to retreat, the State Attorney's Office opted not to pursue criminal charges against Bernadel.
However, the incident has raised questions and concern within the community. Attorneys for McGlashan's mother, April, who was left devastated by the outcome, argue that Bernadel acted as the aggressor when he confronted an unarmed and significantly smaller McGlashan. The legal team has announced that they will request a further review of the case, hoping to bring the matter before a grand jury.
A State Attorney indicated that the evidence in the case was insufficient to negate the application of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows individuals to use or threaten to use force when they believe they are in imminent danger.
This incident and others have sparked a debate about the safety of ridesharing. It has been proposed that all Uber and Lyft vehicles be equipped with a non-disablable video surveillance system to enhance safety measures.
Hopefully, this incident and others will guide us to solutions that protect Uber drivers and passengers and increase the overall safety of ridesharing.
Pursuing a Claim Against Uber After Getting Attacked by an Uber Driver
The information below can apply generally to attacks by an Uber driver. Although the attack we discussed above appears to be in retaliation, and the passenger appears to have physically attacked the driver first, there are many people who have been attacked by Uber drivers and Lyft drivers.
This rideshare industry is still relatively new, and the kinks have not all been worked out. However, when a person is injured in the course of an Uber trip, they may be entitled to compensation, and there is usually a hefty insurance policy involved that can cover some of all of a person’s damages.
This section offers an overview of the steps involved in pursuing a claim against Uber in such circumstances.
Understanding the Legal Framework
Before diving into the legal procedures, it's crucial to understand that Uber drivers are typically classified as independent contractors, not employees of Uber. This distinction can impact your ability to file a claim directly against the company. However, Uber generally carries a $1 million liability insurance policy that covers various situations, including driver misconduct.
The Initial Steps: Document and Report
Document the Incident
Right after the attack occurs, if you're able to, document everything. This can include taking photos of any injuries and damages, recording the location and time of the incident, and gathering the names and contact details of any witnesses.
Report to Authorities
It is essential to report the incident to the police immediately. Obtaining a police report will serve as a crucial piece of evidence when pursuing a claim.
Do not delay in informing Uber about what happened. Open the app and go through the company’s procedure for reporting serious incidents. The sooner you do this, the better your chances of obtaining vital evidence from the ride.
Consult an Orlando Personal Injury Attorney
Navigating the complexities of a claim against a large corporation like Uber can be daunting. Consult an Orlando personal injury attorney to guide you through the intricate web of laws, terms, and conditions that could impact your case. They can also help you figure out whether you have a stronger case against the driver individually or against Uber as a service provider.
Try to avoid speaking with any insurance adjusters until you have an attorney. Insurance adjusters have one goal: to minimize your claim. They will try to get you to sign documents and give sworn statements in an effort to get you to say or do something against your interest.
Filing the Claim: The Legal Procedure
Contact Uber’s Insurance
Your attorney can assist you in contacting Uber's insurance provider to file a claim under their liability insurance. This step often involves sending a letter of representation, an insurance request, and a letter of preservation. Later, your personal injury attorney will likely send a formal “demand letter” outlining the facts of the case and the compensation sought.
Negotiation and Settlement
Once the claim is filed, you'll likely go through a negotiation process. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf, aiming to get the highest possible settlement for medical bills, emotional trauma, lost wages, and other damages.
If a settlement isn't reached, the next option is to file a lawsuit. In this scenario, your case could go to court, where evidence will be presented, and a judge or jury will make a decision. However, before trial, you’ll likely engage in a mediation, and your case could settle at that point.
Being attacked by an Uber driver is a distressing experience that no one should have to endure. The process of filing a claim against Uber can be equally stressful. By documenting the incident, reporting it to the authorities, and consulting an attorney, you'll be better prepared to navigate the legal maze and secure the compensation you deserve.