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Injured in a Uber Accident : Who’s Liable?

by | Sep 14, 2022 | Auto Accidents, Blog | 0 comments

People who suffer injuries in accidents involving an Uber vehicle or any other rideshare company need to understand that many factors can affect liability. For example, an Uber driver’s point in a transaction can go a long way in determining the types and amount of financial compensation they might obtain.

Liability can vary depending on whether an Uber driver or third party caused a crash and whether the Uber driver has proper insurance, among other factors. You should immediately contact an Uber accident attorney for help navigating what can be a very complex legal process.

Ridesharing services such as Uber and many others are only growing in popularity nowadays as more people rely on these services to get to and from bars after consuming alcohol in many cases or simply seeking rides to get to and from airports when they travel.

Rideshare services differ from traditional taxis and public transportation because they rely on smartphone apps to connect riders with available drivers who satisfy each company’s requirements. Drivers own their cars and decide when to provide rides for the respective app users.​ Learn more about liability and uber accidents from our experienced rideshare accident lawyers.

Uber and the Accident Claims Process

Uber was operating in 72 countries and more than 10,000 cities last year. Its services include not only ride-hailing but also food delivery through Uber Eats, package delivery, electric bicycle rentals, and motorized scooter rentals.

In February 2022, Uber reported an average of 19 million daily trips, and its revenue grew to $5.8 billion. The number of monthly active platform consumers (MAPCs) was 118 million.

Uber’s 25.866 billion gross booking in 2021 resulted in $5.778 billion in revenue. There were also 1.769 billion Uber trips during this period.

Because many Uber drivers are not professionals and their cars are not Uber property, they do not have to abide by the same standards that other traditional delivery or taxi drivers have to meet. One major issue with Uber concerned the company’s coverage gap, meaning that when a driver’s app is off, Uber drivers’ personal automobile insurance provides the only coverage.

While transporting a customer, however, an Uber driver has coverage under Uber’s insurance policy. If an app is on and an Uber driver is looking for potential riders, the driver may have only liability insurance coverage. This creates a dangerous situation where drivers do not have adequate insurance coverage, and policies do not fully cover all damages for other parties in the event of accidents.

How Uber’s Insurance works

Uber provides liability coverage for its drivers, and Uber’s coverage generally works as follows:

  • When the app is off – Uber provides no coverage, and a driver’s auto insurance will instead apply.
  • The app is on, and the driver is waiting for a ride request – If a driver is logged into the app and is available for ride requests, Uber will provide liability insurance for any covered accidents when a driver’s insurance does not apply.
  • The app is on, and the driver is either picking up riders or transporting passengers – After a driver accepts a trip and is picking up or transporting riders, Uber provides liability insurance for all covered accidents of up to $1 million, plus some limited coverage for damage to a driver’s car, and uninsured motorists’ coverage (UMI).

Uber and Lyft offer $1 million worth of coverage per incident to passengers using their services or others who suffer injuries when their drivers are transporting passengers or on the way to pick people up. Drivers may also hold rideshare policies that can provide additional coverage.

When only Uber’s coverage is available or applicable, you can still face issues getting a basic claim approved. Uber drivers are not technically employees of these companies but are independent contractors.

Uber often states that the company is not liable for a driver’s behavior. However, injury victims have successfully challenged this and held rideshare companies such as Uber liable for a driver’s actions. Except for when you are riding in a car and covered by Uber’s policy, you will only have coverage from the Uber driver’s insurance, which applies whenever a ride concludes in a rideshare app, or you are involved in a crash with an off-duty driver.

When you are an Uber passenger, you first need to determine who the negligent party was in your accident and file a claim with that party’s insurance company. Uber’s website notes that riders should assume certain risks when using their services. Still, an at-fault Uber driver can lead to company liability for a passenger’s injuries.

You can support any claim by documenting your accident with photographs of your crash scene and collecting witnesses’ names and phone numbers. You will want an attorney’s assistance in proving what stage of the app process you were in when an accident occurred so you can achieve maximum liability.

While many people who are involved in Uber accidents often believe that they can file lawsuits against Uber itself for damages, the truth is that Uber generally manages to avoid this liability issue by claiming its drivers are independent contractors. There can certainly be exceptions to this general rule, such as when a victim was subjected to sexual harassment or assault by a driver because the company will be responsible for hiring them.

Uber Claims Can be Confusing

Rideshare LiabilityUber’s website says when drivers are in a crash while driving with Uber, they should ensure that all parties involved are safe, contact the police and paramedics when necessary, and report the crash to Uber using the appropriate claims form. The company says it will reach out to confirm everyone is OK and gather any information it needs.

Uber notes that all its rides are insured, and its claims support team will guide people through the claims process and crash reporting to the insurance coverage provider in their state. They claim there is no need to report an accident to your insurance company.

Riders will use a different claims form. Third parties also have different claims.

Uber states that drivers are insured for liability to third parties if they are in a covered at-fault crash while online but have not yet received a trip request. The coverage will vary by state but is at least $50,000 in injury liability per person, $100,000 in total liability per crash, and $25,000 in property damage liability per crash.

Suppose a driver is in an at-fault crash and has already accepted a ride request. In that case, they have coverage for liability to a third party (at least $1 million), collision, and comprehensive coverage. When personal insurance already includes such coverage, the insurance that Uber maintains takes its place for damage to the vehicle.

Once a driver accepts a passenger trip, Uber maintains uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage on their behalf. If they are in a crash, this protection can cover them if someone else is at fault and that party does not have enough insurance, or the case is a hit-and-run.

When reporting an accident to a rideshare company such as Uber, you need to be extremely cautious with what you decide to share with these companies. Uber and its insurers can use even seemingly innocent details against you, so try to limit your comments to just the undisputed facts of the case.

In other words, limit your conversation to the vehicles’ make and model, the witnesses’ names and phone numbers, and information about where the accident occurred. Do not go into any detail about your injuries.​

Common Kinds of Uber Accidents

Uber automobile accidents may stem from any number of possible causes, including:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Defective parts or equipment
  • Driver inexperience
  • Speeding
  • Weather
  • Poor road conditions
  • Failure to obey traffic rules
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Dangerous roadways
  • Intersection accidents
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Right-of-way accidents
  • Rollover accident
  • Wrong-way crashes

Uber accidents are not strictly limited to car crashes either.

People may suffer injuries in many other types of incidents while riding with Uber, including:

  • Robbery
  • Assault and Battery
  • Sexual Assault or Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Impostor Uber Drivers
  • Wrongful Death

In June 2022, CNN reported that Uber safety data showed 998 sexual assault incidents, including 141 rape reports in a recent year.

We also want to remember the woman who died in the first-ever pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car. Self-driving cars are becoming a goal for Uber and may become more common in the coming years.

Backup drivers in self-driving cars can make liability in such cases much more complicated. You can hold a backup driver liable for damages in certain injury actions. Still, the vehicle owner or manufacturer is often more likely to be liable, and such parties also have much deeper pockets.

With a self-driving vehicle claim, a pedestrian or other party who suffers severe injuries can have a product liability claim against the vehicle owner or manufacturer. Product liability is a legal doctrine relating to defective products causing injuries, and self-driving cars that cause accidents might be somehow defective.

Product liability can also be a strict liability claim. Unlike other Uber accident claims that rely on negligence, an owner or manufacturer can be liable regardless of their intent or knowledge. Proving product liability involves showing that you suffered injuries, a product was defective, the defective product caused your injuries, and people used the products as intended.

Types of Uber Accident Injuries

Uber accident injuries can require many weeks, months, or even years of rehabilitation and recovery. Some people may never regain their prior conditions.

Common kinds of injuries in Uber accidents may include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Strains and sprains
  • Back injuries
  • Eye injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Knee injuries
  • Leg injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Nerve injuries
  • Tendon injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Disfigurement
  • Hearing loss
  • Limb loss

People who suffer injuries in Uber accidents can seek various forms of compensation for their injuries. Damages that an insurance company or jury awards usually include some combination of economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages relate to tangible losses that can be calculated and proven. Non-economic damages are much more subjective and are generally left to juries to decide.

Common kinds of damages may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Rental car expenses
  • Mileage reimbursements
  • Ambulance transportation costs
  • Hospital care
  • Surgical costs
  • Emergency room services
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Inconvenience
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental anguish
  • Wrongful death damages, including funeral expenses

Punitive damages may also be possible depending on the state where you file a personal injury claim, but you should know that such awards are relatively rare. Courts award punitive damages in cases not so much to compensate victims as to punish defendants for particularly appalling conduct.​

Call to Schedule a Free Consultation with an Uber Accident Lawyer

paula a wyatt attorney wyatt law firm san antonio

Auto Accident Attorney, Paula A. Wyatt

If you or your loved one recently suffered injuries in an Uber crash, you will want to quickly find legal representation. The right auto accident lawyer can assist you with every single step of the Uber claims process.

An Uber accident lawyer knows how complicated it can be for the average person to try and handle an Uber claim on their own, and they will work closely with you to ensure that you are not stuck handling anything by yourself. Case evaluations with car accident attorneys are no-cost with no obligation, so it is always worth it to discuss your options and rights with a legal professional.

Never try to navigate the Uber claims process alone. Seek legal assistance as soon as possible.