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Distracted Uber Drivers: A Risk to Motorcyclists

It’s common knowledge that motor vehicle drivers cause the vast majority of motorcycle accidents. This notion couldn’t be more true when considering rideshare drivers like those who drive for Uber. The long hours and conditions in which Uber drivers operate create the perfect storm for distractions the might lead to a motorcycle accident. This blog will explore the different distractions that Uber drivers face, steps you should take after a motorcycle accident with an Uber Driver, Florida insurance requirements, and specific information about filing a lawsuit against an Uber driver after a motorcycle accident.

Common Distractions for Uber Drivers

Distracted driving has been an issue since the invention of the automobile, but the number and frequency of distractions have increased over time. Uber drivers deal with more distractions than the average driver, posing risks for other motorists, especially motorcyclists. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) divides driver distractions into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. A distraction might interrupt an Uber driver in more than one way; the categories are not mutually exclusive. Below you will find distractions that Uber drivers might encounter in all three categories:

  • Visual distractions are anything that takes a driver’s eyes away from the road. Texting and cell phone usage is common among many drivers, so much that Florida has made texting while driving illegal. Yet, cell phone usage has not been outlawed. Uber drivers have to regularly engage with the company’s app on a cell phone to pick up riders and look at a map; doing this while driving puts motorcyclists and other motorists at risk. Unruly passengers who have been drinking or talk too much might create visual distractions, making it difficult for drivers to clear their blind spots when changing lanes. This is especially dangerous for motorcyclists who can be difficult to see.
  • Manual distractions are anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel. Texting and cell phone usage also serve as a manual distraction, making them especially risky driving behaviors. Meeting rider needs can also lead to a driver taking his or her hands off the wheel. The driver might have to hand something to a passenger or reach for something a passenger dropped, or the driver might adjust the radio for a passenger. Another common manual distraction is eating and drinking in a vehicle. Uber drivers spend long hours in their vehicles, so it’s not unlikely for them to grab something to go and eat while driving.
  • Cognitive distractions are anything that take a driver’s mind away from driving. These distractions are mostly summed up when a driver is daydreaming. Uber drivers, like others, lead busy lives. A driver might be thinking about family issues, financial stresses, previous passengers, or simply worried about picking up as many riders as possible. Regardless of what’s on an Uber driver’s mind, when it isn’t the road, others who share the road are in danger. Obnoxious and loud passengers might also make it difficult for an Uber driver to concentrate on the road.

Florida Distracted Driving Laws

Uber drivers must follow the same traffic laws as those with whom they share the road. As of April 2019, only texting and driving is illegal in Florida, but it is only a secondary offense. This means a police officer will not pull over a driver for texting, but can ticket them for texting and driving if they pull them over for something else. Distracted driving remains a hot topic in Florida because it continually falls in the top three states with the most accidents related to distracted drivers. Florida lawmakers continue to push stricter distracted driving penalties, as well as lobbying to expand the definition, through the repeated introduction of bills to the Florida legislature.

Motorcyclists might be safer on the roads and have less of chance being hit by a distracted Uber driver if Florida legislators succeed in expanding the definition of distracted driving. If you have been in a motorcycle accident with an Uber driver, you should consult with an attorney to learn about new laws that might affect your case. An expanded definition of distracted driving in Florida will include the aforementioned distractions as well as personal grooming, reading, writing, interacting with pets, and putting on make-up.

What Should You Do After an Uber Driver Causes a Motorcycle Accident?

If you are involved in an accident with an Uber driver while you are riding your motorcycle, you might be uncertain of things that you need to do immediately or shortly after the accident. These tips will help maximize your chances of recovering damages after the accident:

  • Seek medical attention ASAP. As a motorcycle driver, you have less protection than the average motorist, making it likely that you will sustain injuries if an Uber driver hits you, especially if they are traveling more than 30 miles per hour. If you are lucky enough to walk away from the accident, you still need to seek medical attention. You might feel okay, or think you only had a bump on the head, but you might not experience symptoms for hours or days. Medical documentation for your injury also serves as proof that the accident with the Uber driver caused your injuries.
  • File a police report. When a severe accident occurs, emergency responders and law enforcement usually show up at the accident scene. If they do not, you must file a police report with your local police department in Sarasota, Clearwater, Tampa, St. Petersburg, or where ever the accident occurred in Florida. The police report will have driver contact and insurance information, but you should also try to get information for your records. Get the name, phone, and email of the Uber driver, riders, and anyone else who was involved or witnessed the accident. Also, get the Uber driver’s insurance information and license plate information.
  • Take photos at the scene. Use your cell phone’s camera to take photos of damage to your motorcycle, damage to the Uber driver’s vehicle, any visible injuries, any hazards that might have contributed to the accident, and anything else you think that an insurance company or your lawyer might need to know.
  • Report your accident to Uber. Uber’s drivers are required to report accidents to the company, but you should also contact them to make sure they have been informed and the event has been documented in their system. You can report a motorcycle accident caused by an Uber driver on Uber’s website.
  • File an insurance claim. Regardless of fault, you need to file an insurance claim with your motorcycle insurance carrier to protect your coverage. Additionally, fighting the other insurance company will take some time. Your insurance company might pay the claim and seek reimbursement from the Uber driver’s carrier.
  • Seek legal counsel. When a motorcycle accident occurs with an Uber driver in Florida, many insurance companies might come into play. Florida’s no-fault insurance laws as well as dealing with a worldwide company and a contractor muddy the waters of a claim. A trusted attorney will navigate these waters and help you along the right path for your situation.

Florida Auto Insurance Laws for Motorcyclists and Uber Drivers

Florida is a no-fault insurance state that requires all drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and property damage liability (PDL) coverage. Motorists must provide proof of insurance when they register their vehicle. This includes motorcyclists and Uber drivers, but Uber drivers have additional requirements based on a bill passed in 2018. The requirements vary based on whether a driver has passengers and whether they are logged into the Uber app on their cell phone.

Uber drivers who are logged onto the app, but don’t have riders must have the following coverage:

  • PIP coverage required for all motorists under Florida law
  • $50,000 minimum death and bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $100,000 minimum death and bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 minimum property damage liability (PDL) coverage per accident

Florida law requires Uber drivers to have $1,000,000 in coverage when they have riders. This may be a commercial policy or Uber’s insurance coverage for their drivers provided by Progressive Insurance in Florida.

Seeking Damages When an Uber Driver Causes a Motorcycle Accident

If you sustained injuries because of a distracted Uber driver, you might be eligible to recover damages. Florida’s no-fault insurance laws require you to report the accident to your PIP insurance carrier, which covers motorcyclists as well as car drivers and pedestrians. Keep in mind that PIP coverage in Florida only covers 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages and it does not cover any non-economic damages. You must meet or exceed the limits of your PIP coverage before filing a claim under the driver’s or Uber’s insurance policy.

When injuries are severe or catastrophic, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and/or Uber. With multiple parties and insurance policies involved in a lawsuit, motorcycle accident cases involving Uber in Florida are challenging cases that require an experienced lawyer. A skilled attorney will guide you through the claims process and handle communications with all of the relevant parties.

If you file a personal injury suit after a motorcycle accident in Florida and the court rules in your favor, you might recover the following damages:

  • Medical treatment beyond your PIP coverage, which includes ambulance and emergency services, hospital stays, medication, x-rays, and surgery
  • Future medical expenses when your accident results in catastrophic injuries that require extensive recovery or permanent disability
  • Rehabilitation costs including physical therapy and assistive devices like crutches, wheelchairs, canes, and prosthetic limbs
  • Lost wages for time away from your job not covered by your PIP insurance or another drivers’ policy
  • Future lost wages for a long-term disability that prevents you from returning to work after your accident
  • Non-economic damages for loss of consortium, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and others that apply to your situation

Comparative Negligence in Florida Motorcycle Accident

If you have been injured after an Uber driver hit you while riding your motorcycle, Florida law entitles you to seek damages for your injuries in civil court after you have met or exceeded your PIP policy limits. Expect the Uber driver, Uber, and any other party to the defense to avoid liability. Insurance companies might deny your claim, downplay your injuries, or suggest that you had a preexisting injury. Florida courts apply a comparative negligence rule to personal injury cases, which gives the defense an incentive to shift blame to you.

Comparative negligence is the idea of shared liability; the court assesses the extent to which you contributed to the accident that led to your injuries. If they find you were partially negligent, they will reduce your award based on a percentage portion fault they assigned to you. For example, the defense might argue that you were speeding on your motorcycle; if you hadn’t been speeding you could have reacted to the Uber driver’s reckless driving. In turn, they find you are 25 percent at fault for the accident. If you sued for $100,000 in damages, Florida law only allows you to collect $750,000 or 75 percent. A skilled motorcycle accident attorney who has also dealt with Uber accidents understands Florida no-fault insurance and the way comparative negligence applies to your case. They will guide you and advocate for you to obtain the best results for your case.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you have suffered injury after a motorcycle accident with an Uber driver, you need the expertise of a seasoned personal injury attorney to guide you through the complicated legal process inherent in cases with multiple parties to the defense. The skilled legal team at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have represented dozens of clients in motorcycle accidents and Uber accidents, so they know how to help you through the aftermath of your accident. Contact our offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, and New Port Richey at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) today to schedule a free consultation.

Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorneys