Ridesharing services like Uber have made getting around town much easier in recent years. As long as you have a smartphone, requesting a ride couldn’t be simpler.
However, when a car accident involves an Uber driver, how do you know who is responsible? While these drivers are employed by Uber and covered by Uber’s insurance when carrying passengers, they are also considered independent contractors, and determining liability can be complicated as a result.
If you are injured while riding in an Uber, you should know the true value of your claim before an insurance company offers you a lowball settlement, as well as who to seek compensation from. A Long Island Uber accident lawyer at Siler & Ingber, LLP will help you get the full compensation you deserve from all of the liable parties.
Before hailing a ride with a local Uber driver, it’s critical that you understand the coverage you have should you be involved in an accident during your ride.
Uber drivers are covered by the company’s liability insurance as long as the driver was online (actively accepting requests) before they accepted your request for transportation services. However, this can be deceiving because the liability limits in place a relatively low: $50,000 in injury liability per person injured in the accident.
If you’re in an accident during your Uber ride, first check to ensure that everybody is safe and administer first aid if necessary. Next, contact the police and paramedics if needed. Once any immediate health issues are addressed, the driver should contact Uber to begin the process of filing a claim. Both the driver and any passengers can expect to hear from the insurance company within 3 days of the accident to find out what they can expect next.
A data report issued by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) on June 16, 2016, states that yellow cabbies were involved in fewer deadly crashes than Uber cars were from July to December of 2015. Uber-affiliated vehicles were involved in at least 753 collisions that caused injuries, with five of these Uber accidents leading to fatalities. Although this collision rate is below the industry average, according to TLC, there is still room to improve Uber’s accident statistics.
Currently, there are more than 50,000 Uber cars driving around in New York City. As the use of these ridesharing services continues to rise, so, too, does the potential for crashes. And although TLC may be helpful in reducing the number of Uber accidents that occur, it may be less effective in addressing some of the other dangerous issues that can arise.
In theory, any passenger is covered by Uber’s one-million-dollar liability policy regardless of who is negligent; however, things get more complicated if you were hit by an Uber driver while in another vehicle or while walking. Liability in these cases hinges on the status of the Uber app and whether the driver had a fare in progress at the time of the auto wreck.
If the Uber app is on and the driver is carrying a paying fare, the policy should cover any accident injuries. Uber’s policy should also cover any accidents that occur after the driver has accepted a new ride request but hasn’t yet picked up the passenger.
If a driver is active on the Uber app but has neither a passenger nor a request for pickup, the driver is most likely personally liable for any injury-causing accidents.
If a driver is not actively using the Uber app, he or she is considered to be driving for personal reasons. In this case, if the Uber driver causes an accident, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy should cover any injury claims. Uber will generally not accept financial responsibility in these cases.
Certain insurance policies do have a clause that terminates coverage if a vehicle is used for commercial driving, however. If this is the case with the Uber driver who hit you, you may be forced to file an uninsured driver claim with your own insurance policy instead.
The liability in an Uber and rideshare accident depends entirely on the circumstances of the accident. The liable party may vary greatly depending on these circumstances. If a driver of an Uber causes a car accident and the driver is determined to be at-fault, the liability can fall on the driver, the owner of the automobile and Uber. If the at-fault driver is established as an Uber employee, Uber would be held liable under the “respondeat superior” doctrine which holds an employer liable for its employee’s negligence when a car accident occurs within the scope of the employee’s employment. Consult with a personal injury attorney that has the experience litigating accidents involving Uber and rideshare companies. They should be able to determine the liable parties to name in a personal injury lawsuit.
As you can see, determining liability in these types of wrecks can be quite convoluted and even contentious. If Uber and the driver both deny liability, what is the next step?
Obtaining cell phone records or deposing the rideshare driver could be necessary, but your Long Island Uber accident lawyer can help you determine how best to handle your claim and what evidence needs to be collected.
Passengers anticipate that when they pay for transportation services, they can expect a driver who is well-trained, cautious, focused, and ultimately safe, but unfortunately, there have been many accidents in which an Uber driver was at fault since the company was founded.
Lawsuits are generally filed when the insurance company (in this case, James River) doesn’t offer an adequate payout to cover the expenses incurred by the accident. Because James River is a reputable, financially strong insurance company, it’s less common for injured parties to have a need to file a lawsuit as the payout is adequate for the losses. However, when the payout offered by the insurance company doesn’t cover the losses, a lawsuit may be filed against Uber or their insurance company.
Many lawsuits against Uber are settled out of court. In 2015, an Uber driver hit six-year-old pedestrian Sofia Liu, who was crossing a crosswalk in San Francisco with her mother and brother, killing the young child. Sofia’s family sued Uber and was paid a settlement (the amount of which was kept confidential due to the family’s request) for the wrongful death of their daughter. Additionally, $500,000 and $6,000 settlements have been paid by Uber’s insurance company to cover injuries and expenses. Because confidentiality is usually included in the settlement, it’s difficult to find information on settlements paid to victims of accidents involving an Uber driver.
Passengers or pedestrians injured in an accident involving an Uber (or other ride service) driver can protect themselves by getting contact and insurance information from the driver, getting the names and numbers of any witnesses, filing a police report, seeking medical attention right away if necessary, and contacting a personal injury attorney for guidance.
Don’t let Uber or an Uber driver’s insurance company take advantage of you after a serious car accident! That’s the last thing you need to worry about when trying to recover your health.
Instead, contact a Long Island Uber accident lawyer at Siler & Ingber, LLP. We can protect your rights and help you make sense of a confusing situation. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a Long Island Uber accident lawyer, contact us online through the form on this page or call us directly at 1-516-294-2666.