Tags: Uber | passenger | attack | eye

Report: Victim in Alleged Attack May Lose Eye, Sue Uber

By    |   Wednesday, 01 October 2014 07:31 PM

A passenger in a San Francisco Uber car who allegedly was attacked by his driver with a hammer may lose use of an eye, Forbes reports.

The alleged assault occurred Sept. 23 after Robert Chicas, a bartender, got into an UberX vehicle driven by Patrick Karajah. The two reportedly argued over a route. Karajah allegedly pulled out a hammer in anger and smashed Chicas in the face and head.

Chicas, 35, was hospitalized for three days and now faces concerns that he will lose an eye, his attorney Harry Stern told Forbes.

"The real issue now is whether he's going to permanently lose his sight in his eye," Stern said Monday. "Right now there's so much blood in his eye they don't know whether that's going to resolve. His skull is fractured. He's going to need reconstructive surgery on his face."

The alleged attack was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, which noted that Chicas got into the Uber car with two male friends and a woman.

After a disagreement about their route, the driver told the group to get out of his car. Once Chicas was outside the car, Karajah allegedly hit him with a hammer, an attack that left him bloodied and lying in the street, "slipping in and out of consciousness," the Chronicle reported.

Karajah, 26, of Pacifica, Calif., was arrested at his home and jailed. He was later freed on $125,000 bond. He has been charged with two felony counts of assault and battery and has pleaded not guilty. He could also be facing a lawsuit.

Stern said that he and his client, whose medical bills are mounting, are likely to bring suit against both Uber and the driver.

"There's no doubt that the trail of liability leads back to Uber's doorstep," Stern told Forbes. "We believe they should pay."

Uber's policy notes that riders are released from "any and all liability or damages arising from or in any way related to the third-party transportation provider," thus seeking to limit its liability in the case.

"We take reports like this seriously and are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and care," Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend told the Chronicle. "It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver's account following any serious allegations, which we have done. We stand ready to assist authorities in any investigation."

This is not the first time one of the company's independent drivers has been charged. In June, San Francisco Uber driver Daveea Whitmire was charged with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly hit a passenger in the head and elbowed him in the chest.

That alleged assault occurred after an argument with a passenger in November 2013 in the city's Castro District, San Francisco's KCBS reported.

The television station noted that Whitmire had a prior felony drug conviction in 2009 and was on probation for another misdemeanor battery at the time of the alleged Castro assault.

The second alleged assault prompted the city's district attorney to push for stronger background checks for Uber drivers, KCBS noted.

"We want to make sure that there are proper background investigations that are conducted on people that are being employed as drivers and operators," District Attorney George Gascón said. "We want to make sure that there is sufficient insurance to protect the public."

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A passenger in a San Francisco Uber car who allegedly was attacked by his driver with a hammer may lose use of an eye, Forbes reports.
Uber, passenger, attack, eye
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 07:31 PM
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