Determining Liability in an Uber Rideshare Accident
If you’re injured in a car accident due to the negligent or wrongful acts of another person, that person—through their insurance—may bear liability for damages. However, what happens if the negligent driver who injured you happens to drive for Uber? Isn’t Uber, as the employer, also responsible? How does Florida’s no-fault insurance rule come into play? The situation can quickly become more complex than you ever imagined. Read on for more information.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance
Florida law requires motorists to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This insurance covers medical bills and lost wages that a driver may suffer in an accident, regardless of who caused it. However, it only typically covers 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages and is subject to the driver’s deductible.
Exceptions to the no-fault rule allow motorists to sue other drivers whose actions cause an accident. These exceptions include permanent injury and wrongful death. A permanent injury causes a significant and important loss of a bodily function. Another exception is if the costs of the injuries and lost wages exceed the amount of coverage provided by PIP.
Uber Drivers Are Independent Contractors
If an accident involving a negligent or reckless employee in any other type of commercial vehicles, such as a taxi cab or a trash truck, the company’s insurance may pay damages. However, ridesharing companies like Uber have taken great care to avoid having injury victims name them as parties in many car accident lawsuits by treating their drivers as independent contractors. By not claiming Uber drivers as employees, the company attempts to create a legal separation between itself and the actions of its drivers.
How Uber’s Accident Insurance Works
Drivers use their personal vehicles and are not always on the clock: If the driver is not logged into the Uber app and available to accept rides, then only the driver’s personal insurance is in play in the case of an Uber accident lawsuit.
If a driver is logged into the app but hasn’t accepted a ride from a fare-paying customer, then Uber’s insurance offers no collision coverage. However, it does offer an additional liability coverage for third parties (others involved in the accident) of a maximum of $50,000 per injury (up to $100,0000), as well as a maximum of $25,000 for property damage, for damages that exceed the capacity of the driver’s personal insurance.
Only if the driver is actually transporting a customer does the full $1 million of collision and liability coverage provided by Uber kick in for the following purposes:
- Third party liability coverage for pedestrians or other drivers or property
- Uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, if the Uber you’re riding in is hit and the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage or can’t be identified
- Contingent comprehensive collision coverage for the Uber car, whether the driver was at fault or not
Once again, Uber’s insurance only comes into play once the expenses exceed the amount of the driver’s personal auto insurance.
The Driver’s Potential Liability in Uber Crash
If you are hit by a negligent or reckless Uber driver and you have suffered a permanent injury or one that exceeds the limits of your own PIP policy, then the driver may bear liability, whether on the clock or not. However, despite the insurance packages that Uber makes available to its drivers or the option of commercial insurance that a driver has through a personal car insurance carrier, many drivers opt to carry only the state minimum insurance, as required by law and by Uber at the time they apply to become drivers.
Even after your PIP policy kicks in, or in the event that you don’t have PIP coverage, the driver’s personal car insurance, you may not recover enough to pay the cost of your injuries. In addition, if nobody told the insurance company that the driver was contracting to carry passengers and the driver did not choose to purchase commercial coverage, it can refuse to cover the damages in an accident.
Uber’s Potential Liability in Car Accident
Many lawsuits have made or are making their way through the court system, arguing that Uber’s responsibility extends further than that. For example, Uber settled for an undisclosed amount in a San Francisco case in 2015, after a driver struck and killed a six-year-old girl as she walked across a crosswalk with her mother and brother. The driver, in that case, was logged into the apps and waiting to accept a ride. The case argued that Uber bore an additional responsibility for the accident due to its phone-based app, which distracted the driver.
An El Paso, Texas, woman who suffered serious injuries in a 2017 wreck while she was an Uber passenger made the same argument earlier this year. The woman filed a lawsuit against the driver, who ran a red light; another vehicle T-boned them as he drove through an intersection. The suit also names Uber and its subsidiaries and states that the company requires its drivers to constantly use phones to accept new rides, access maps, and receive other notifications.
In 2017, an Illinois woman sued Uber for an accident in New Jersey in which she was also a passenger in an Uber car. The suit states that, while on her way to the New York City marathon, her Uber driver began driving erratically, crossing four lanes of highway traffic at 70 miles per hour before slamming into another car. She suffered injuries that will likely prevent her from ever competing in another marathon. The case alleges that Uber provides inadequate safety and training procedures.
Other Parties’ Potential Liability in Uber Accident
As with any car accident, additional parties may prove liable for injuries. An experienced attorney can, for example, examine the road conditions at the time and location of the accident to determine whether unsafe hazards contributed to the crash. In addition, an attorney may check the records on the Uber vehicle to determine if it was thoroughly inspected, properly maintained, or if it used defective parts that contributed to the accident. Drivers of other vehicles who were involved in a collision with an Uber driver may bear liability.
What You Can Do—Call Dolman Law Group Now!
If you were in a crash that a negligent or reckless Uber driver caused and have suffered extensive injuries in Sarasota, you may have a claim against not only the driver but against Uber and other parties as well. An attorney with experience with these lawsuits may help you determine the liable parties and the dollar amount of the damages you might seek to cover your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
The Dolman Law Group is ready to meet with you to discuss the details of your case. Please contact us online today or call us at (941) 210-7586 to schedule your free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, FL 34201-3007