Uber and other peer-to-peer ridesharing programs on the surface are fantastic alternatives to traditional taxis. These programs employ drivers who use their own vehicles to commute riders. To get a ride, you simply log a request into your Uber app and the nearest willing driver comes to pick you up – usually within minutes. Fares are automatically paid through the app, so there is no awkward exchange of cash or credit cards at the end of the ride.
Given how simple, quick and straightforward ridesharing programs are, it’s no wonder they have become incredibly popular. But the foggy legal status of Uber and other ridesharing programs can create considerable problems in the event of an accident.
The attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek are here to guide you through the legal mess that can come out of an Uber accident. Relying on our decades of experience representing clients in auto accidents, we can make the case that wins you the full compensation you are due.
How Are Uber Accidents Different from Other Car Accidents?
Vehicles and drivers for traditional cab companies are licensed and regulated by the state or local municipality. Specific laws are on the books concerning accident fault, insurance and compensation. Special insurance requirements are imposed on drivers and cab owners. In the event of an accident, these laws and regulations define who is responsible in various circumstances and how insurance will compensate victims.
Uber and other ridesharing programs are a different story. Uber does have insurance that applies when drivers accept passengers through their service, but it is usually considered secondary to the Uber driver’s personal insurance policy. Another point of contention is who is responsible when a driver gets into an accident while clocked in as working, but not carrying a passenger.
Take the case of the Uber driver in San Francisco who killed a 6-year old girl and was subsequently charged with vehicular manslaughter. Uber is denying liability for the girl’s death because the driver was not carrying passengers at the time of the accident. Without specific laws and regulations that make it clear who is responsible in these situations and insurance requirements, victims may have great difficulty securing compensation for their injuries, or in this tragic case, the loss of life.
Whose Insurance Covers Who in an Uber Accident?
Although the ridesharing driver’s insurance is often considered the primary insurance coverage in the event of an accident, these drivers’ personal insurance policies typically do not provide coverage when driving for a rideshare company. Most private car insurance policies have a specific clause, usually under the exclusion section, that denies coverage for any accident that occurs while the driver was getting paid to drive.
A policy that does not cover driving for hire, or specifically excludes it, means that the driver will be without coverage if they get into an accident while rideshare driving.
To ensure they are covered in an accident, a rideshare driver will most likely need to purchase supplemental commercial driver’s insurance. Uber and other rideshare drivers should check their personal car insurance policy – or better yet, call their agent – to determine if they have or need this extra insurance coverage.
What To Do If You’re In an Accident with an Uber Driver
As with any car accident, the victim must be able to prove two things in order to win compensation: that the other party was at fault for the accident, and how badly the victim was injured or suffered, also known as damages.
The primary defendant would be the Uber driver and the case would proceed like any other car accident claim. That is, you would make a claim with the driver’s insurer. You may very well run into trouble though given that some drivers have gaps in their coverage that do not cover driving for hire.
Uber itself may also be a defendant. Of course, a major obstacle in winning a case against them is the ambiguity of liability laws concerning ridesharing companies. What’s more, Uber expressly disclaims any liability for their drivers’ behavior, stating that drivers are independent contractors.
- Call for medical attention, if there is an injury or suspected injury.
- Document the accident with photographs of injuries, property damage and the accident scene.
- Gather witness information.
- Get the driver’s personal information and insurance policy information.
- Jot down the accident events while they are still fresh in your mind.
- Obtain the police report.
- Track all medical appointments and costs for accident injuries.
- Track all time missed from work due to the accident.
Since the legalities of ridesharing programs are still being worked out in the courts, it is strongly advisable to contact an experienced car accident lawyer after you have been involved in an accident with an Uber or other ridesharing driver.
How a Lawyer Can Help
An experienced car accident attorney is your biggest ally following an accident, and this is especially true during the legally complicated aftermath of an Uber accident. An attorney can take on insurance agencies that deny claims due to insufficient driver coverage. We can also go after the rideshare companies themselves, who do all they can to avoid paying out on an accident one of their drivers has caused.
By negotiating with other parties and gathering the necessary evidence for you, you can enjoy a better chance of winning your claim, while also being able to concentrate on healing. As part of taking on your case, your attorney may:
- Collect and review medical and other technical documents.
- Gather medical bills and other expenses related to your accident.
- Take witness testimony.
- Order police reports.
- Work with medical experts and other technical experts.
Upon carefully reviewing this evidence, we can build a strong case that demonstrates your injuries and property damage were directly due to the Uber accident. We can also determine and prove the maximum of compensation you are owed. Choosing to take on an Uber driver or rideshare company on your own means taking the risk of not recovering full damages, and potentially being denied compensation altogether.
Pierce Skrabanek Is Here for You
The reputable car accident attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek have been standing up against big insurance companies for years. We know all the tactics corporations use to deny a legitimate claim and we can use this knowledge to your advantage.
Let us take over the legal aspects of your car accident case. Reach out to us today for your free, no-obligation case evaluation.