Like other motorists, Uber drivers sometimes are involved in motor vehicle collisions. Uber accident claims fall under the same tort laws as other traffic collisions, but they can be much more complex. Uber accidents involve Uber drivers, other involved motorists, and several potential insurance companies. Since multiple people can be involved in an Uber accident, pursuing a claim can be more difficult than in a typical motor vehicle accident case.
In addition to having third parties involved, Uber collisions also can involve insurance with high policy limits. Seeking compensation for your injuries might require you to conduct a thorough investigation, identify multiple potentially liable parties, and determine which insurers should be responsible for paying for your losses. Typical car accident claims only involve the two motorists and their respective insurance companies. Uber accidents, by contrast, might also involve the rideshare company. Here are some key ways in which Uber accident claims might differ from a typical motor vehicle collision claim.
Independent Contractor vs. Employee
People who drive for Uber are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. This means they do not have similar protections as employees. Since Uber is not the driver’s employer, the company might not be vicariously liable for the actions of the driver. By contrast, accidents caused by drivers who are classified as employees of different companies might involve the vicarious liability of the company.
For example, if you are injured in an accident caused by a pizza delivery driver who is directly employed by the pizza restaurant, the restaurant would be vicariously liable for the actions of its employee. This means the restaurant would be responsible for paying damages instead of the driver.
Vicarious liability is a legal principle under which an employer is liable for the negligent actions of its employees while they are working within the scope and course of their employment. Independent contractors are not considered to be employees and can be sued directly. However, Uber drivers might not have enough insurance coverage to pay for an accident victim’s serious injuries.
While Uber might not be vicariously liable when one of its drivers causes an accident, it does provide liability coverage for passengers and others who are injured in accidents because of the actions of its drivers.
Liability determinations following Uber accidents can be more complex. In addition to the potential involvement of multiple parties, the Uber driver and Uber might have varying levels of responsibility. The availability of Uber’s insurance also depends on the phase of the app in which the driver was operating at the time of the collision.
The Uber driver must have proper auto insurance with a rideshare endorsement. Insurance companies will often exclude coverage for accidents when the driver is working if they do not have an additional endorsement for using their vehicle for business purposes.
If the other motorist was partially to blame, both the Uber driver and the other motorist might share responsibility. This means you might need to pursue claims against each responsible party.
Because of the number of potentially liable parties and insurance companies, Uber accidents must be thoroughly investigated. Attorney Steven M. Sweat of Los Angeles is an experienced Uber accident lawyer and works closely with investigators and experts to understand each factor that contributed to a rideshare accident and the responsible parties, which helps to maximize his clients’ recovery amounts.
One of the major differences between Uber accident claims and other types of motor vehicle collision cases is the complexity of insurance policies. Teasing out the various policies can be daunting.
All Uber drivers must carry auto insurance with a ride-share endorsement. While a driver who is at fault for an accident that occurs while they are driving for Uber might have the state’s required minimum liability insurance, it might not cover the victims’ injuries if they do not have a ride-share endorsement.
Uber does provide general liability coverage for accidents when its drivers are at fault. However, the availability of coverage depends on which phase the driver was in with the Uber app at the time of the collision as follows:
- Phase 0 – App turned off; no Uber insurance coverage available
- Phase 1 – App turned on and driver waiting to be called for a ride; $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage
- Phase 2 – App turned on, and driver traveling to pick up a passenger; $1 million coverage for bodily injury and property damage
- Phase 3 – App turned on, and driver transporting a passenger; $1 million bodily injury/property damage coverage plus $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
In addition, the other motorist might be wholly or partially at fault. If they are, a claim will need to be filed against their insurance policy. If they do not have sufficient coverage to pay for your injuries as an Uber passenger, you should be able to seek coverage under Uber’s UM/UIM policy as secondary insurance.
Negotiating With Several Parties
In typical accident claims, you only have to negotiate with one party and their insurance company. For example, if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver who was speeding, their auto insurer would be responsible for paying for your medical bills and other losses. Your attorney would negotiate directly with their insurer to recover compensation for you.
When you are injured in an Uber accident, your attorney will likely need to negotiate with multiple parties and insurance companies to reach a fair settlement, including:
- Uber driver
- Other driver
- Other driver’s insurer
Negotiating with multiple parties can be time-consuming and complex. However, an experienced injury lawyer can guide you through the process and negotiate for you to achieve a full settlement for your losses.
When an Uber accident occurs, obtaining evidence and data will be important. Since Uber is a ride-sharing platform, it can be harder to obtain all of the data and evidence you might need to support your claim. Uber doesn’t gather and store vehicle maintenance records, driver data, and other information you might need.
However, an attorney can work with investigators and accident reconstruction experts to collect and analyze critical evidence to support your claim, which can help to secure maximal compensation for your injuries and other losses. An attorney might send requests for information that Uber does have, including information about the driver’s background investigation. They might also obtain information about the driver’s driving record, insurance status, and other information you might need to strengthen your case.
Trying to pursue an Uber accident claim can present unique challenges you might not have to deal with when you’re pursuing a claim for another type of motor vehicle accident. Since Uber provides liability insurance with high policy limits, you might be able to recover more compensation for an Uber accident than you might for a different collision. However, when large amounts of money and serious injuries are involved, you can expect the insurance companies to aggressively defend against your claim.
Determining who is at fault, the phase of the app the driver was operating in at the time of the collision, and negotiating with multiple parties can make Uber collisions more challenging. If you work with an experienced rideshare accident attorney, you might be likelier to recover the compensation you deserve for your losses.