Uber and other ride share companies have exploded on the scene in cities all across the United States. The more Uber drivers there are on the roads and the more Uber riders using the service, the more accidents there are. If you have been in an accident involving an Uber driver you need to be aware of some special issues.
Who is Uber?
Uber is a company that is looking to revolutionize the way people use technology and taxis. Instead of calling a cab or waiting on the street for a taxi to pas by, Uber has an app that lets people schedule a ride. The Uber drivers are essentially freelancers who are paid a portion of the fees Uber charges the riders.
Uber has had problems with both drivers and passengers behaving badly. Also, Uber is under attack by taxi companies and their supporters in cities who claim that Uber is really a taxi service and needs to be licensed and regulated like one.
Issues With Uber Accidents
The two main problems with Uber accidents are:
- Who is liable for the Uber driver’s actions?
- Adequate insurance coverage
Employee or Contractor?
When a taxi cab is the cause of an accident, the company that owns the cab is responsible for the driver’s actions. The company carries the insurance and can be sued if the claim cannot be settled.
Uber claims its drivers are not employees, but independent contractors. This means that Uber would not be responsible for the negligence of its drivers like a traditional taxi company is.
If the individual driver is responsible, the question is do they have enough insurance and the right kind of insurance?
Uber requires its drivers to have proof of insurance to sign up as a driver. But, the limits required in most states for private drivers is much smaller than the amounts for professional drivers like taxi drivers.
If there is an accident with several cars and several severely injured people, the insurance limits of the Uber driver may not be enough. While the victims could sue the driver personally, most Uber drivers do not have any assets and would not be able to pay any judgment.
Another issue is some insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for professional driving. That is if you are paid to drive, the insurance company won’t pay out any claims if there is an accident.
The question remains is Uber responsible for the negligence of its drivers? The answer will vary from state to state.
Types of Uber Accidents
There are two types of Uber accidents. In the first type, someone is a passenger in an Uber driven car. In the second type someone is a driver or passenger in car not driven by an Uber driver, but who gets in an accident with an Uber driver.
Passenger in Uber Car
If you are a passenger in an Uber car, chances are you are not at fault for the accident. This means you potentially have a claim against the Uber driver, Uber, and or the driver of the other car in the accident. It is possible that both drivers are at fault for the accident to different degrees. It is also possible that only one driver is at fault.
As the passenger you have to know if you should bring a claim against only one party, or against everyone. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be needed to help you sort out the claims process.
Every state has different rules on how contributory and comparative negligence work. The way the personal injury laws work will determine how you can be compensated for your injuries.
Hit by Uber Car
In the second type of Uber accident, the car you are in is in a crash with a car driven by an Uber driver. Like a regular car accident, you cannot file a claim for injuries to be paid by another party if you are at fault for the accident.
But, if the Uber driven car is at fault, you have to know if you can file against Uber itself, or if you have to file a claim with the insurance company of the Uber driver.
The case may end up turning on something other than the liability for the accident. If the Uber driver did not have a passenger, he may not be an Uber driver at the time of the crash, and any objections to his insurance company paying damages may go away. But, if the Uber driver was on his or her way to picking up a passenger, it could cause the insurance problems discussed above.
Car accidents happen every day and there is an established pattern for dealing with them. But, Uber presents a new wrinkle on the familiar car accident claims pattern.
If you have been injured in an Uber accident, let us help you find an experienced personal injury lawyer. The issues are too important for you to take any chances.