Who is Liable for an Uber Car Accident?
Over the past few years, ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have become extremely popular. Rather than taking public transportation or calling a cab, people who need a ride can use the app to be connected with a freelance driver who can take them where they need to go.
Ridesharing apps have become so popular not only because of how easy they make it to get around, but because of how inexpensive the rides are when compared to taking a cab. However, that lowered cost does have its downsides. Although ridesharing companies typically run background checks on the people who sign up to become drivers, ridesharing services aren’t as heavily regulated as taxi companies. And since Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors, not employees, who pays if an Uber driver is involved in a car accident?
Uber car accidents get much more complicated than regular car accidents and it’s best to consult a traffic accident lawyer if you’ve been involved in one. The fact that Uber doesn’t classify drivers as employees means Uber isn’t directly liable for a driver’s actions. If someone like a cab driver, truck driver, or a limo driver were to get into an accident with another motorist, the other party may be able to file a claim against the commercial driver’s employer, but that isn’t the case with Uber. Uber does have a million dollar insurance policy which covers drivers, passengers, and third parties like pedestrians and bicyclists in the event of an accident, but when that insurance policy applies gets confusing.
Generally speaking, to be covered by Uber’s insurance, the Uber driver needs to have customers with them at the time of the accident. If an Uber driver gets into a car accident while they have riders in the car, both the driver and the passengers are covered by Uber’s insurance. However, if the accident was caused by the driver behaving in a blatantly reckless and negligent way, such as if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver to collect further damages since Uber is not liable for the driver’s actions. Since most Uber drivers are just regular people with cars, most of them also do not carry commercial driver’s insurance, which can make it more challenging to collect damages from drivers.
What if an Uber driver gets into an accident while they’re available to pick up riders, but they don’t have any passengers in the car with them at the time? In this case, the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance would mainly be responsible for covering the damages. But there is additional coverage available through Uber’s insurance for injuries and property damage not covered by the driver’s personal insurance or if the driver’s insurance denies the claim.
There have been incidents where Uber drivers have hit and injured or killed pedestrians. What happens if you’re riding your bike or walking across a street and get hit by an Uber driver? In this situation, it again depends on whether or not the Uber driver had passengers in the car with them at the time of the accident. If the Uber driver was giving passengers a ride somewhere, Uber’s insurance should also cover injuries to pedestrian or bicyclist. However, if the driver was between fares or was using their car for their own personal use, you would need to make your claim against the driver’s personal insurance.
While Uber car accidents are very different from other car accidents in many ways, they are actually pretty similar in other respects. Immediately following an Uber accident, take the same steps you would after any other accident, like noting your location, taking pictures, getting the names and contact information of everyone involved, and calling 911 if anyone is injured. If you’d like to file a lawsuit, you’ll be eligible to make a claim for many of the same types of damages you would in any other car accident, like medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. But since the laws concerning ridesharing are so murky, it’s really best to get the help of an attorney as soon as possible.
Our personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka are able to handle other motor vehicle accidents as well, like motorcycle accident cases. Contact us to see how we can help you get fair compensation.