Uber drivers provided more than 6.3 billion rides in 2021. Many commuters are beginning to favor such services over traditional forms of public transportation.
Because Uber drivers are typically locals utilizing their personal vehicles, many consumers consider Uber cheaper than traditional taxi services. Uber's smartphone technology also offers GPS-assisted pick-up, live driver and travel time monitoring, and even luxury vehicle services.
Ride-sourcing companies such as Uber have forever changed how Bradenton residents travel. What hasn't changed, however, is the rate at which passengers are injured in serious car crashes. If you were involved in an Uber accident, Florida rideshare liability laws may complicate your entitlement to financial recovery. A Bradenton Uber accident lawyer at Dolman Law Group can help you seek compensation if an Uber driver injured you in Bradenton.
Overview of Uber's Business Model and Technology Services
The rise of Uber and related app-based ride services presented Florida attorneys, judges, and lawmakers with some unique legal questions. Unlike most taxi and for-hire driving services, Uber doesn't own the vehicles used to transport riders and doesn't actually employ Uber drivers.
Uber describes itself as a technology company that allows registered Uber drivers to use its online platforms, such as the Uber smartphone application, to accept transportation requests from local Uber users. Uber drivers use their personal vehicles, work on their own schedules, and are paid as independent contractors. Drivers do not need special taxi or commercial driver's licenses to provide these services. Uber's services are similar to paying a friend to drive you to the airport instead of hiring a taxi.
With traditional taxi and limo services, a company owns the vehicle and/or employs the driver. This means Bradenton passengers injured in a taxi accident can sue the company and/or hold the company liable for its employee's negligence through a doctrine called respondeat superior. Additionally, authorized commercial car insurance policies cover these for-hire vehicles. Uber's service model presents some legal issues because personal car insurance policies do not cover a passenger's injuries if the vehicle is being used for unauthorized commercial purposes.
In the past, Florida residents injured in an Uber accident could not recover compensation from the Uber driver's private car insurance policy or Uber itself, as Uber didn't employ the driver or own the car. Instead, personal injury claimants were limited to direct claims against Uber drivers. Florida passed a special law in 2017 designed to address these legal concerns.
Florida Laws and Regulations Governing Uber and Ridesharing
Uber's services are commonly referred to as ridesharing, ride-sourcing, or app-based ride services. Florida refers to companies that provide these services as transportation network companies (TNC). Drivers who contract with TNCs are referred to as TNC drivers, while passengers are called TNC riders. These are the legal terms used to describe Uber, Uber drivers, and Uber passengers in Florida.
The comprehensive TNC law (Florida Statutes § 627.748) defines the types of businesses that qualify as transportation network companies, including Uber, and also:
- Defines when an Uber ride legally starts and ends.
- Sets forth the criminal background and driving records checks Uber is required to run before contracting with a driver
- Mandates that Uber adopt a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy
- Dictates the types of crimes and traffic offenses that disqualify a driver from working with Uber
- Explains when an Uber driver is considered an independent contractor and when they are considered an Uber employee
- Sets forth the specific insurance requirements for Uber drivers
- Mandates that the Uber application provides riders with the driver, trip, and vehicle information
- Grants Uber certain legal protections
Uber must comply with the regulations in Florida's TNC law, or it could face criminal charges. If Uber fails to abide by certain safety and insurance provisions, it opens itself up to civil liability for injuries suffered in an Uber accident.
Common Causes of Bradenton Uber Accidents
Florida's TNC law states that Uber drivers are not considered taxi drivers, limo drivers, or common carriers like mass transportation and public drivers. Taxi drivers and common carriers often undergo special driver training because there are nuances to safely transporting passengers to various and potentially unfamiliar locations throughout the day. However, Uber drivers only need a traditional driver's license, a relatively clean driving record, and a few years of experience behind the wheel.
The following may cause Uber accidents:
- Driver inexperience
- Driver distraction due to monitoring and using the Uber app
- Driver unfamiliarity with the pick-up and drop-off locations
- Driver reliance on GPS
- Driver distraction caused by entertaining passengers for a higher rating
- Use of older vehicles that lack many optional safety features, such as backup cameras
- Driver fatigue due to frequent late-night transportation
- Driver distraction due to inebriated passengers
A combination of these factors may lead to serious Uber accidents in Bradenton. Whether you were an Uber passenger injured during a ride or got into an accident with a working Uber driver, determining which parties are liable for your injuries is essential to recovering compensation.
Individuals and Entities Potentially Liable After an Uber Collision
An Uber ride legally starts when the Uber driver accepts a request for pick-up through the app and ends when the passenger exits the Uber vehicle or the request is canceled.
The following individuals or entities may be liable if you were injured in a Bradenton Uber accident:
- A negligent Uber driver
- Uber Technologies Inc.
- Another driver responsible for the accident
- An inebriated passenger who distracts or threatens the Uber driver
- The owner of the vehicle, if not the Uber driver
Uber maintains a $1 million liability insurance policy to cover claimants injured in Uber accidents. If you were injured in a qualifying Uber ride, Uber's liability insurer will typically cover your damages. This includes passengers riding in an Uber summoned by a friend or another passenger.
Many Uber passengers suffering from mild car accident injuries, such as whiplash, herniated discs, concussions, or shoulder strains, may recover reasonable compensation from Uber's liability insurer. Even if the Uber driver wasn't liable for the accident, its insurer may pay the claim and then seek reimbursement from another liable company or driver.
Potential Direct Legal Claims Against Uber and Uber Drivers
Life-altering accidents resulting in permanent disabilities may cause more than $1 million in damages. Some injured parties may consider bringing personal injury claims against Uber in these situations. Additionally, an injured passenger may not qualify as a TNC rider under Florida law, the Uber driver may not have been using the Uber application at the time of the accident, or the liable car insurer may refuse to provide comprehensive coverage. In such cases, recovering compensation can be complicated.
Florida claimants may have a claim directly against Uber in the following limited cases:
- If Uber violated Florida TNC laws and that violation contributed to the accident and subsequent injuries.
- If the accident was directly linked to faulty technology, such as the Uber app distracting the driver or providing unsafe and inaccurate GPS directions
- If Uber had reason to know the driver posed an unreasonable risk of harm to other drivers and passengers but still permitted that driver to use the platform
Whether Uber is considered directly liable for your injuries depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the case. Gathering the information necessary to support a liability claim against Uber may require substantial discovery work by a Bradenton Uber accident lawyer.
Florida personal injury attorneys may need to hire technology experts to review the application for potential dangers and investigators to conduct comprehensive criminal background and driving record checks on Uber drivers.
There are also cases of identity sales and fake Uber drivers causing passengers' injuries. For example, drivers who don't qualify to use Uber may offer to pay former Uber drivers or individuals for access to their driver accounts. Some fake Uber drivers have even been caught harassing or criminally assaulting passengers.
It's worth scheduling a free consultation with an Uber accident lawyer to discuss your potential claim, especially if you've suffered serious injuries in Bradenton.
Holding Uber Liable for Uber Driver Negligence
An Uber driver's negligence can injure passengers. Whether a driver was inexperienced, lost, or distracted by their phone, passengers may wonder if Uber is liable for their injuries. Uber is generally not liable for ordinary negligence of its drivers, such as basic traffic infractions, because drivers are usually considered independent contractors and not Uber employees.
Uber must meet four essential criteria before it can claim a driver as an independent contractor in Florida:
- The driver has control over their schedule and is not required to work during certain days or hours.
- The driver cannot be prohibited from or penalized for working with other rideshare companies.
- The driver cannot be restricted from working another job or having another career.
- There must be a written agreement (electronic is permissible) between Uber and the Uber driver specifying that they are considered an independent contractor.
Uber is legally permitted to provide umbrella insurance, set user rates, dictate driver fees, and collect funds to pay drivers without considering its drivers as employees. This is important because businesses are traditionally not permitted to exercise financial control over non-employees. Uber is also permitted to provide Uber vehicles with comprehensive insurance, but this doesn't mean Uber is liable for your injuries in Florida courts.
If Uber fails to abide by any of the regulations, such as pressuring drivers to work busy Saturday nights by penalizing those who don't, the driver may be considered an Uber employee. This means Uber is liable for injuries caused by driver negligence as if Uber, and not the driver, caused the injuries. Testimony from Uber drivers and a substantial review of Uber's policies are typically necessary to prove this type of claim.
Types of Compensation Bradenton Claimants May Recover After an Uber Accident
Whether by filing a claim with Uber's insurance or directly suing a liable party, injured claimants in Florida may recover damages for:
- Suffering emotional and mental anguish
- Emergency room visits
- Surgeries and hospital stays
- Ambulance and medical transportation services
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Medical devices such as crutches and wheelchairs
- Personal care and home medical aides
- Loss of a spouse's physical and emotional companionship
- Inability to engage in hobbies and activities
- Housing modifications, such as ramps and special floors
- Pharmacy and prescription drug expenses
- Missed work and lost wages
- Lost job benefits, such as health insurance premiums
- Lost sales commissions and bonuses
Reliable evidence is the key to calculating and recovering compensation for your injuries after a Bradenton Uber accident. Keep all receipts from out-of-pocket medical costs and calculate the value of time lost due to an Uber accident.
This may include calculating the miles you have to travel for doctor appointments or the hours lost from work due to treatment. Evidence of damage may also include statements from your friends and family members about changes to your personality and the activities you can no longer enjoy after an Uber accident.
Bradenton Uber Accident FAQ
Can Anyone Drive for Uber in Florida?
No. Both Florida law and Uber's policies limit who can become an Uber driver. At a minimum, Florida does not permit the following persons to drive for Uber or any other ridesharing company:
- Anyone convicted of a DUI or other reckless driving offense
- Anyone with a felony conviction in the past five years
- Anyone registered on the state or national sexual offender registry
- Anyone convicted of sexual battery or another related sex crime
- Anyone convicted of a crime of violence
- Anyone without a valid driver's license
- Persons who have had their drivers' licenses suspended in the past three years
- Anyone without a legally registered vehicle
Uber must conduct a thorough criminal background and driving record check before permitting an Uber driver to accept passengers. It must redo these checks every three years and suspend a driver if they are disqualified from rideshare driving under Florida law. It may, however, slack in these duties, and when it does, it could bear liability for accidents that result.
Do Uber Drivers Actually Work for Uber?
This is an important question if you were injured in a Bradenton Uber accident. Most Florida Uber drivers do not work for Uber directly. Ordinarily, employers are liable if a negligent employee injures you. Negligence is the primary basis for legal recovery in car accident cases. However, companies are not liable for the negligence of independent contractors.
Uber drivers are considered independent contractors and not Uber employees if all the following are true:
- A written agreement between Uber and the driver specifies that the driver is an independent contractor.
- Uber does not prevent the driver from working as a Lyft driver or for another rideshare company.
- Uber does not restrict the driver from any other type of employment.
- Uber does not require the driver to work on-demand or during certain times. For instance, Uber cannot penalize a driver if they fail to drive between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Fridays.
An Uber driver may be considered an Uber employee and not an independent contractor if one of the factors listed above isn't true.
Do Any Special Laws Govern Uber in Florida?
Yes. Florida passed a comprehensive law in 2017 that applies to Uber and Uber drivers. Florida Statutes § 627.748 governs transportation network companies (TNC). TNCs are defined as businesses that use specialized digital platforms, such as the Uber app, to connect users with registered drivers for prearranged rides.
A company that qualifies as a TNC must abide by the specific background check, insurance, driver monitoring, and labor regulations outlined in the statute. Provided Uber complies with these regulations, it generally cannot be successfully sued for injuries caused by a negligent Uber driver.
Are There Specific Laws Controlling How Bradenton Uber Drivers Need to Operate Their Vehicles?
Not necessarily. Unlike a taxi service, Uber connects users with local drivers who transport passengers in the drivers' personal vehicles. Florida law specifically states that TNC drivers, such as Uber drivers, are not considered taxi drivers, limo drivers, or bus drivers. They have to follow the same rules of the road as other Florida drivers, but there are no special vehicle operation laws or training requirements that apply to Uber drivers.
What Should I do If I Am Injured in a Bradenton Uber Accident?
Safety is your first priority after an Uber accident. If anyone is injured or there is substantial vehicle damage, you should call the police. Uber must keep a record of the driver, vehicle information, pick-up and drop-off locations, travel time, and route. Some passengers can notify Uber immediately if an accident interrupts a trip.
Once you're safe, take the same steps you normally would after a car accident:
- Call 911 if police or medical professionals are needed.
- Address any immediate medical concerns.
- Take pictures of the scene and any relevant vehicles, drivers, passengers, and license plates.
- Take pictures of vehicle damage and visible injuries.
- Immediately after an Uber accident, riders must get the Uber driver's insurance information, as well as the insurance and vehicle information from other involved vehicles, and record the contact information of any potential witnesses. Treat the accident as if you were the driver.
An Uber driver is not your employee and most likely doesn't work for Uber. You will file a claim for injuries with the Uber driver's TNC insurer. Uber and the Uber driver will typically not do this for you, especially because there is a conflict of interest between injured passengers and Uber drivers.
Anyone injured as an Uber passenger during a registered Bradenton Uber rideshare may want to contact a car accident attorney for assistance filing an Uber insurance claim.
Do I Have to Report an Uber Accident to Uber?
You generally must report an accident to Uber or the applicable rideshare insurance carrier. This includes claiming bodily injuries through the insurance policy. A Bradenton personal injury attorney with experience making rideshare insurance claims may help you through this process with no direct or upfront costs.
Can I Sue Uber If I Was Injured During My Bradenton Uber Ride?
There is a difference between filing a claim with Uber's liability insurance policy, which covers most passenger injuries, and successfully holding Uber liable for your injuries in Florida courts. The ability of injured individuals not covered by Uber's insurance to successfully sue Uber depends on if Uber complied with Florida's TNC law and whether the driver is considered an independent contractor or an Uber employee.
The following are some examples of when Uber could be successfully sued in Florida courts:
- The Uber driver did not have a written independent contractor contract with Uber and subsequently rear-ended another vehicle, causing injuries to the rideshare passengers. The driver would likely qualify as an Uber employee, not an independent contractor, and Uber could be liable for a passenger's injuries in a court of law.
- Uber did not conduct the necessary driving record check before it contracted with the driver, which would have shown the driver was convicted of reckless driving. If you're injured because the Uber driver was driving recklessly, Uber may be liable for your injuries by its own negligence.
- Uber was notified that an Uber driver had operated their vehicle under the influence of alcohol, but it did not suspend the driver during an investigation based on Florida's zero-tolerance policy for rideshare drivers. If a passenger is subsequently injured because the Uber driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, Uber may be liable.
- Uber had reason to believe the driver posed a danger to passengers or other drivers, even if the driver was not legally prohibited from contracting with Uber.
Remember that Uber is not conventionally liable for any accident an Uber driver causes. Even if Uber failed to comply with certain TNC laws, the violation must generally be linked to the cause of the accident.
For example, Uber may not be liable if it missed a driver's felony drug conviction on a background check, but you were injured because the driver didn't see a stop sign. Uber may be subject to criminal penalties under Florida law, but it doesn't automatically mean the company is liable for an Uber accident.
Is Uber Liable If I Was Injured By an Off-Duty Uber Driver?
In most cases, no. Uber may be liable in limited circumstances if the driver was logged on to the Uber app at the time of the accident, but this is rare. Off-duty Uber drivers are treated the same as private drivers in Florida.
Do I Have a Claim Against Uber If an On-Duty Uber Driver Hit Me in Bradenton?
Bradenton residents injured by a negligent on-duty Uber driver, whether the driver was waiting to be hired or actually driving a customer, can generally make the same claims as injured Uber passengers.
Can I Sue Uber for Hiring a Bad or Dangerous Driver?
It depends. You may be entitled to damages from Uber if you were injured because Uber employed or contracted with someone it shouldn't have. This is called a negligent hiring claim in Florida, but it's very limited. If an Uber driver's intentional criminal conduct injured you, you may want to speak with a Florida Uber accident attorney to discuss this claim. You may also recover restitution as part of a criminal case against Uber if it violated Florida's TNC law and thereby contributed to your injury.
Can I Sue Uber If I Was Riding in an Unsafe Car?
While Florida only requires Uber drivers to have a legally registered vehicle in the state, Uber mandates its drivers' vehicles pass a comprehensive safety inspection. This inspection includes seatbelts, brakes, steering systems, tires, and lights.
If the driver's vehicle passed a rideshare safety check, Uber is probably not directly liable for injuries caused by an Uber vehicle's mechanical failure. However, Uber riders injured by a vehicle malfunction could seek compensation through Uber's umbrella liability insurance policy.
Bradenton Uber passengers injured due to a vehicle safety issue may sometimes bring a claim against the safety inspector or mechanic for negligence. Some vehicles are inspected by disreputable shops or pushed through inspection for a driver's benefit, even if the vehicle shouldn't be on the road.
Do Uber Drivers Have to Carry Special Car Insurance in Florida?
Yes. Florida's TNC law requires Uber drivers to carry higher personal injury insurance limits when working. This insurance must be offered by a TNC policy, meaning the insurer is informed of the vehicle's use as an Uber and consents to provide coverage.
Florida's minimum coverage requirements for Uber drivers depend on the legal status of the Uber driver at the time of the accident:
- If the driver was not logged on to the Uber application at the time of the accident, the vehicle is treated as the driver's personal vehicle. Florida minimum car insurance limits apply.
- If the Uber driver was logged on to the Uber application while waiting for someone to arrange a ride, Florida requires the driver to carry a minimum of $50,000 in personal injury insurance per person and $100,000 per accident.
- If the Uber driver was engaged in a legal ride, which begins once they accept the request for pick-up and continues until the passenger exits the vehicle, the driver must have a minimum of $1 million in liability coverage.
Seven-figure car insurance policies are expensive, which is why Florida law permits Uber to provide this insurance on behalf of an Uber driver.
Uber does provide this auto insurance policy for Uber drivers. This policy does not cover accidents that occur when the Uber driver is offline, however, and does not mean Uber is liable for your injuries in a court of law. Certain types of accidents are also excluded from coverage, even if the driver was on-duty. Uber's insurance may also pay for bodily injuries and provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if the Uber driver wasn't at fault for the accident.
What Type of Compensation Can I Recover After I Was Injured in a Bradenton Uber Accident?
Not every Uber accident is the Uber driver's fault. Another negligent driver or uncontrollable road conditions may have caused the Uber vehicle to crash. Injured Uber passengers may recover compensation from another liable driver, the Uber driver, or Uber itself, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. The insurance companies may even split liability between multiple negligent parties.
Uber's insurance may cover qualifying claimants' losses. These include:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Follow-up doctors' visits
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Home aides
- Pharmacy and medical device expenses
- Medical transportation
- Lost wages, bonuses, and fringe benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Financial recovery may also be available if a claimant is suffering from mental anguish, psychological trauma, or persistent pain and suffering. Gathering evidence of these non-economic damages and submitting them to Uber's insurance adjusters is essential for recovering compensation after an Uber accident in Bradenton.
How Long Do I Have to File My Uber Accident Claim in Bradenton?
Under Florida Statutes § 95.11, the statute of limitations for most personal injury and car accident claims, including those involving Uber and other rideshare services, is just four years. While Florida has one of the most victim-friendly statutes of limitations for personal injury claims across the country, four years can pass by far more quickly than you might think.
The sooner you get an attorney working on your case, the more likely your attorney can gather the evidence needed to support your case. Failure to file your lawsuit before the four-year statute of limitations expires will likely result in the dismissal of your case.
It is also important to note that if you are hoping to recover compensation for a family member who has passed away due to injuries they sustained in an Uber accident in Bradenton, instead of following the four-year personal injury statute of limitations, you will follow the two-year wrongful death statute of limitations under Florida Statutes § 95.11 (4)(d).
If you have additional questions regarding how the statute of limitations could impact your Bradenton Uber accident claim, your attorney can discuss your concerns further.
How does Shared Fault Affect My Right to Compensation?
Under Florida Statutes § 768.81, the state follows a pure comparative negligence system. This means sharing fault for your injuries will not prevent you from recovering compensation for your damages. However, you will still need to answer for your portion of culpability. To do this, the court will reduce your injury settlement by your portion of liability.
For instance, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, the judge may find you 10% liable for your injuries. Your injury settlement will then be reduced by 10% to account for your percentage of fault.
An attorney can advocate for your rights and ensure that unwarranted blame is not placed on you for the accident or your injuries.
Contact a Bradenton Law Firm Experienced in Dealing with Uber Accident Claims
The laws surrounding Uber accidents are more complex than those governing traditional car accidents. Recovering compensation for your injuries after a Bradenton Uber accident often requires a detailed investigation into the Uber driver, digital platforms, Uber policies, and the accident itself. The Bradenton personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group are familiar with the nuances surrounding Uber accidents and often provide these services with no up-front or direct costs to clients.
We have offices across both Florida coasts, so you can easily reach Dolman Law Group at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747
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