Ola washes hands off accident caused by their driver that hospitalised two

Months after victims suffer injuries in near-fatal accident on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, Ola only assures 'cooperation' and 'customer support', instead of taking constructive measures

Prasoon Kumar
Prasoon Kumar

They managed to survive a near-fatal accident caused by an Ola driver but 'support' and 'co-operation' is all that the ride hailing company has offered Udaipur residents Prasoon Kumar and Govind Singh Gehlot. Their pithy statement comes only months after an accident caused by a speeding driver on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in March. While the victims have filed an FIR against the drivers, the company has asked them to file a legal notice.

Kumar (44) and his 41-year-old colleague Gehlot had gone to Pune for some business work in March. They work for Vidya Bhawan Society, an educational institute based in Udaipur. They booked an OLA cab to get to Mumbai airport from Pune on March 31. Thus began the ride of their lives that left them inches away from death.

Also read - Mumbai: Uber agrees to compensate 66-year-old for accident injuries

Govind Gehlot
Govind Gehlot

Driver refuses to listen
Kumar told mid-day, "I asked the driver several times to slow down, but he didn't listen to me, and suddenly, dashed into a stationary water tanker. The impact was so severe that I got several fractures in my leg and collarbone. My colleague sustained multiple facial fractures."

Girish Waghrulkar, the driver suffered injuries, too, but none as serious as those of Kumar and Gehlot.

Also read - Mumbai: Top gallerist bruised in cab accident; Uber's response: Rs 100 refund

After the accident, police took the unconscious victims to MGIMS hospital in Kamothe, Navi Mumbai. They were admitted there till April 6 and later shifted to their hometown, Udaipur. There, they underwent several surgeries and are still on bed rest.

Pictures of the condition of the car post the accident show the severity of the damage. The seats are covered in blood and the car is completely damaged from the front, its windows and engine in pieces. But what did the company do to assuage Kumar and Gehlot? Precious little, according to Kumar's experience.

The Ola cab post the accident on Mumbai-Pune Expressway
The Ola cab post the accident on Mumbai-Pune Expressway

OLA didn't bother
"It was really surprising that despite the near-fatal impact of the accident, Ola did not even bother to enquire about the accident and get back to us. When we wrote emails and tweeted about the negligence, they said they cannot provide any help, that it was not their policy. They asked us to send a legal notice, but we are not in a state to fight it legally. Despite having such a big reputation, and being trusted by thousands of passengers daily, they don't provide any security for their customers' lives," said Kumar.

Also read: Post-accident, Uber's emergency response team still has still not called victim

The victims provided all the details of the car — a white Swift Dzire with the number plate MH-14 FC3680 in an email to OLA on May 2, but sadly, they got no response until they tweeted about it on June 23. Even then, all OLA said on Twitter was, "Advised you to proceed legally with this incident."

mid-day tried to get in touch with Waghrulkar through OLA, but they said they cannot give out his phone number due to privacy reasons.

An X-Ray of Prasoon Kumar's fractured hands
An X-Ray of Prasoon Kumar's fractured hands

FIR registered
An FIR was also registered against the driver at Khalapur police station under sections 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 184 (driving dangerously) of the Motor Vehicles Act.

An X-Ray scan of Kumar's collar-bone injury
An X-Ray scan of Kumar's collar-bone injury

Driving dangerously
However, OLA cannot shy away from such complaints. Consumer rights activists say incidents like these are counted as a violation of consumer rights that are protected under the Constitution.

Also read - Mumbai: Passenger in Uber suffers head injuries due to rash driving

The ride was booked from Pune on March 31
The ride was booked from Pune on March 31

When a customer books a ride, the application sends the driver. So, the service provider becomes responsible to the customers."When a cab is booked through such an application, the customer trusts the operator. In fact, these operators also take a sum of money from the cab driver so they cannot just wash their hands of the issue.

OLA's reply on Twitter
OLA's reply on Twitter

They (the customers) can even approach the consumer court," said Jehangir Gai, consumer rights activist.

Ola says
In a statement to mid-day, OLA said, "We regret the pain and trauma that the customer experienced as a result of this unfortunate road accident. We have extended full cooperation to the injured passenger(s) as well as the driver partner, and have assured the customer support with respect to legal proceedings and investigations conducted by the authorities."

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