As the seventh-largest city in America, there is no shortage of San Antonio residents who need a ride.
Proponents of the Transportation Network Company (TNC), Uber, note that one of the brightest benefits of the ridesharing model is to provide affordable transportation that will alleviate traffic congestion by encouraging roadway users to share rides rather than everyone using their personal vehicle to travel around the city.
While all of these are admirable goals, studies indicated that traffic accidents actually increased in the cities where the rideshare company was operating, rather than decreasing.
If a San Antonio Uber vehicle injured you because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you can seek compensation for the financial and psychological impacts of your injury.
The experienced San Antonio Uber accident lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers can provide a free case evaluation. There, you can obtain answers to your legal questions about seeking compensation and learn more about your right to compensation for the harm that someone else causes you.
Uber’s Disruptive Presence in the Transportation Industry
The concept of Uber was born in Paris in 2008, when two friends had difficulty getting a cab, and asked the simple question: “What if you could request a ride from your phone?”
The company arranged its first ride on its app in 2010. Since then, the company has changed the way people view their transportation options and offers its services in more than 10,000 cities across the world. In addition to on-demand through a smartphone app, the company has acquired other businesses, offering food and product delivery and rentable scooters.
This transformation of travel is not without its difficulties, however. Uber, and its main competitor, Lyft, are in the hot seat in several states for refusing to classify their drivers as employees, depriving them of employment benefits such as vacation pay and overtime. They are notoriously secretive about crime and accident statistics in the cities where they operate.
When Uber Arrived in San Antonio
Uber began offering service to passengers in San Antonio in spring 2014, about four years after the company started. However, a year later, the company pulled out of the city, citing failed negotiations with the city’s regulators when producing an operating agreement.
At the time, the company complained that San Antonio officials had “created a regulatory climate that makes it impossible for us to meet the high standard of service that riders from over 170 cities across the U.S. have come to expect.”
The company went on to state that area residents were losing out on an opportunity to earn money as drivers and urged area customers to contact their elected leaders and ask them to reconsider San Antonio’s proposals to Uber.
Six months after Uber pulled out of San Antonio in 2015, they returned to the table and inked an agreement with the city that provided them the operating agreement needed to continue providing service. The sticking point in those negotiations? The city wanted the company to fingerprint its drivers and subject them to random drug and alcohol screening.
Types of Accidents Involving Uber
The term “Uber accident” doesn’t just refer to accidents that occur while an individual is an Uber passenger and are the fault of the Uber driver, though that is one type of Uber accident that can occur and result in injuries to passengers and others.
Other types of accidents involving an Uber vehicle include:
- Accidents in which the Uber driver’s carelessness or recklessness injured you as a driver or occupant of another vehicle.
- Accidents in which you are injured as a passenger in an Uber vehicle because of another roadway user’s actions.
- Accidents in which you are injured as an Uber driver due to the careless or reckless actions of another roadway user.
- Accidents in which you are injured as a pedestrian or bicyclist by an Uber vehicle, and the accident was caused by the Uber driver or another roadway user.
In many types of accidents in which an employee causes injury to someone else during his or her normal scope of employment, the employer is held vicariously liable. Uber does provide a third-party liability insurance policy to pay for injuries and property damage caused by their driver while he or she is en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in transport. The company, however, often avoids much of the liability for injuries caused by its drivers by classifying them as independent contractors rather than as employees.
Causes of Uber Accidents in San Antonio
Bexar County, of which San Antonio is the county seat, regularly has the highest number of crashes and crash fatalities of any other city in the state. In one year, the county saw more than 50,000 traffic accidents, including about 175 fatal crashes and more than 800 accidents involving incapacitating injuries.
Throughout Texas, one of the most common factors in traffic accidents is distracted driving. Driving distractions involve anything that causes the driver:
- To avert his or her eyes from the roadway.
- To take his or her hands from the wheel.
- To stray mentally from the task of safe driving.
Texting and other cell phone use are of particular concern, as they feature all visual, manual, and cognitive distractions all at once. In Texas, drivers may not send or receive electronic messages while driving. The Uber app, however, requires drivers to access their phones to accept rides, get directions to the passenger’s location or intended destination, or report an issue with the trip.
Other common causes of Uber accidents in San Antonio include:
- Speeding: According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is a factor in about one-quarter of all fatal accidents on U.S. roadways. Speeding involves not only driving over the posted speed limit, but driving too fast for the weather or traffic conditions of the roadway. Speeding results in the deaths of more than 9,000 people a year. Some of the dangers associated with this risky driving behavior include a shorter time for the driver to perceive danger and respond to it by depressing the brakes, an increased amount of distance needed for the vehicle’s brakes to pull its weight to a safe and complete stop, a decrease in the effectiveness of the vehicle’s safety features, including the steel frame, seat belts, and airbags, and an increase in the severity of the accident.
- Impairment: Alcohol and drug use creates impairment and causes deficits in the skills a driver needs for safe driving. Some of those deficits include the inability to multi-task or track moving targets, the inability to maintain one’s own travel lane, difficulty with stopping or starting the vehicle, and difficulty controlling one’s speed or making good decisions.
- Driver fatigue: Fatigued driving results from physical or mental exertion that impairs his or her ability to drive safely. While this condition can occur with anyone who is not sleeping well, it is more common with nightshift or swing shift workers as they work and drive during the night, when the body instinctively wants sleep. Individuals who drive for Uber often work these nighttime hours to provide transportation for nightshift or swing shift workers as well as bar patrons after the bars close, placing them at risk for symptoms that often mimic alcohol impairment, such as the inability to maintain a travel lane and delayed responses to emergency driving situations.
- Tailgating: Also known as following too closely, tailgating is the main culprit for the extremely common rear-end accident. Following another vehicle too closely places a driver at risk of having an accident if the lead vehicle suddenly slows or stops. Rear-end accidents are the most common cause of whiplash, an injury to the muscles in the neck that results from the head snapping back and forth in a whip-like motion.
- Aggressive driving/road rage: Contrary to popular belief, aggressive driving is not the same thing as road rage. Aggressive driving is a series of traffic infractions that are generally committed in an attempt to escape areas of traffic congestion and can involve actions such as tailgating, speeding, improper lane change, and red-light running. Road rage, on the other hand, causes injury to punish another driver for a perceived slight. Road rage behaviors include honking angrily at other drivers, gesturing or yelling obscenities, exiting one’s vehicle at a stoplight to physically confront another driver, or attempting to bump or ram another vehicle off the roadway.
Injuries Sustained in San Antonio Uber Accidents
Some of the injuries sustained in a San Antonio Uber accident are among the worst, most life-altering injuries an individual can suffer.
Serious injuries that often occur in this type of accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Because the brain controls so many of the body’s functions and responses but only has limited ability to heal itself from injury, a TBI often leaves individuals with permanent deficits that can affect every part of their lives. Depending on the severity and location of the injury, those deficits can include memory loss, inability to communicate verbally with others, difficulty with balanced and coordinated movement, and difficulty controlling one’s emotions, impulses, or behavior.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI): The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist. Along with the brain, the spinal cord makes up the central nervous system. Its function in this system is to relay messages from the brain to other parts of the body. SCIs often result in a permanent loss of function and sensation in parts of the body beneath the injury site. This condition is known as paralysis.
- Damage to the spinal vertebrae and discs: Spinal cord injuries aren’t the only injury that can occur in the back or neck because of an Uber accident. Car accidents are frequent contributors to other types of back and neck injuries as well, including fractured vertebrae and slipped or ruptured discs.
- Soft tissue injuries, which involve sprains, strains, and torn muscles, ligaments, or tendons and are often because of wrenching the body in a back and forth motion due to the force of the accident or the sufferer outstretching an arm in an attempt to catch himself or herself when falling or colliding with another object.
- Broken bones. While bone fractures are a relatively common injury that tends to heal within weeks or months, bone fractures can be much more serious, resulting in chronic pain or loss of use of the affected limb.
- Traumatic limb amputations from contact between the body and sharp or heavy parts of the vehicle that can sever or crush it. While traumatic limb amputations occur during the accident itself, doctors may need to surgically amputate severely damaged limbs if they cannot adequately repair the limb.
Frequently Asked Questions About San Antonio Uber Accidents
Despite the amount of press the company has received in the past decades, Uber remains a relatively new type of business, and there is a lot of misunderstanding about how individuals injured in an Uber accident should recover compensation. Here are the answers to some of the questions we hear most often about Uber accidents.
What is the process of obtaining compensation for injuries I sustained in a San Antonio Uber accident?
You can obtain compensation for injuries sustained in a San Antonio Uber accident through a lawsuit. For most cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date on which the accident occurred. If you fail to meet this deadline, the court will not hear your claim.
The people who can seek compensation through the claims process after an Uber accident include:
- An Uber passenger who was injured because of an accident caused by the Uber driver.
- An Uber passenger who was injured because of the careless or reckless actions of another roadway user.
- An Uber driver who was injured because of the careless or reckless actions of another roadway user.
- The driver or occupant of another vehicle that was injured in an accident caused by the Uber driver.
- Bicyclists, pedestrians, or other roadway users who were injured in an accident caused by or involving an Uber car.
- Anyone who was involved in an accident in or with an Uber car that was caused by defective auto parts.
My spouse died in an Uber accident. Is there compensation available for me?
If the accident resulted from someone else’s carelessness or recklessness—including the Uber driver or other drivers on the roadway, as well as accidents resulting from defective auto parts—you can seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. In Texas, family members including the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date on which the accident occurred.
The damages you can recover through this type of claim include:
- Lost earning capacity.
- Loss of inheritance suffered by the deceased’s children.
- Loss of care, maintenance, service, support, advice, and counsel that the deceased provided to his or her loved ones.
- Loss of love, companionship, support, and society suffered by the deceased’s spouse.
- Mental and emotional anguish, pain, and suffering.
How do I know who was liable for the injuries I incurred in a San Antonio Uber accident?
As with other types of motor vehicle accidents, many individuals can cause a San Antonio Uber accident, including:
- The Uber driver
- Other drivers and roadway users
- The maker or distributor of defective auto parts, if defects were a factor in the accident.
To determine if someone is liable for your accident, you must show that they acted negligently.
You prove negligence by showing:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions that a reasonable person would take in a given set of circumstances to protect the safety and property of others. One roadway user owes to other roadway users a duty to operate his or her motor vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care. Some examples of the types of risky driving behaviors that would constitute a duty of care include alcohol impairment, speeding, fatigued driving, or failing to yield the right-of-way.
- The breach resulted in the accident, which caused you to sustain injuries and incur impacts and expenses.
What can I recover for through a San Antonio Uber accident lawsuit?
Texas allows the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages by individuals who were injured because of someone else’s negligence. This is true whether your injuries were caused by an Uber accident on St. Mary’s Strip, or the accident involved a multi-car pileup on I-10.
In the legal arena, “recovering damages” refers to obtaining compensation for the expenses (economic damages) as well as the impacts (non-economic damages) of your accident.
Some types of expenses and impacts that commonly appear on damage claims in Uber accident lawsuits include:
- Medical expenses, such as the cost of emergency treatment on the scene or in the emergency department, ambulance or air ambulance transport, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, prescription medication, surgical services, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of assistive devices such as prostheses, a wheelchair, or crutches.
- Lost wages for the time you are required to miss work due to your injury.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury causes a permanent limitation in the amount of money you earn.
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle you were driving in the accident.
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, which is compensation for the hobbies and activities that you can no longer participate in because of your injury.
- Loss of consortium, which is a damage recovered on behalf of the injured person’s spouse for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that is often experienced after a serious injury.
How does Uber’s $1 million insurance policy work?
Uber provides a third-party liability insurance policy to cover the injuries and property damage caused to others by an Uber driver. The company requires drivers to provide their own insurance per the state’s requirements.
In Texas, drivers must purchase $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person/ $60,000 per accident plus $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident. If an accident occurs and the Uber driver is liable, his or her personal auto policy should provide the primary source of compensation. However, insurance companies frequently deny third-party claims on personal auto insurance policies if the driver did not inform them that they would use the vehicle for ridesharing.
If the driver’s insurance company denies the liability claim or the claim maxes out the driver’s coverage, Uber provides its $1 million insurance policy as follows:
- If the driver has his or her app off and uses the vehicle for personal reasons, the driver’s personal auto insurance is responsible for claims.
- If the driver’s app is on and he or she is waiting for a ride, Uber provides a bodily injury property damage liability policy of $50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident as well as $25,000 for property damage.
- If the driver’s app is on and he or she is transporting a passenger or is en route to pick up a passenger, Uber’s policy will provide up to $1 million for bodily injury and property damage liability. Uber’s policy will also provide comprehensive and collision and uninsured motorist coverage if the driver has purchased these policies for his or her personal coverage.
Is there a reason why another Uber passenger could be found liable for an accident?
The only way that an Uber passenger can be found liable for an accident is if his or her behavior was so unruly and unexpected in the Uber car that it caused the driver to wreck. While this is a relatively rare occurrence—or at least one for which there aren’t many published examples—it does happen.
Drivers who work the late-night hours after the bars are closed often provide rides to intoxicated patrons trying to get home. During these times, the risks of picking up an unruly passenger increase. Rideshare users who use Uber’s carpooling services, for example, should know these risks.
Uber drivers have an out, however—they are independent contractors using their own personal equipment (vehicle) to provide transportation. If they don’t choose to transport the passenger or the passenger is not abiding by their requests, they have the right to end the ride and make the passenger leave their vehicle. If the driver doesn’t choose to do this and the unruly passenger creates a safety hazard or causes an accident, the liability slips back to the driver.
Will I have to pay taxes on the settlement I received from my San Antonio Uber accident?
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the settlements and awards that individuals receive in Uber accident claims are not income the federal IRS won’t tax them.
There are some exceptions, however:
- If you obtained punitive damages, the IRS will tax this portion of your award. Courts don’t award punitive damages to compensate for the injury, but to punish defendants for particularly egregious behavior, including fraud, malice, or gross negligence.
- If you deduct your medical expenses from the accident for the tax year in which you incurred them, you must pay back the deduction you took if you later recover compensation through an Uber accident claim.
- Texas, of course, doesn’t levy an income tax, so at the state level, the point is moot.
I can’t afford an attorney. Can’t I just sue the Uber driver on my own?
This type of case involves complexities regarding liability and the ability to seek compensation through Uber’s $1 million policy. It requires extensive legal knowledge that the average person without a law degree would not know.
Because the stakes are so high—involving the income you need to pay for treatment for your injury—and the other side is most certainly outfitted with a high-powered legal team, we cannot stress enough the importance of having an experienced San Antonio Uber accident help you with your case.
To ensure everyone the opportunity to access legal help after incurring an injury, we offer, without an upfront investment from you:
- A free case evaluation. This is a no-obligation conversation that you can have with one of our attorneys to obtain the answers to questions about your specific case and learn more about the legal process involved in obtaining compensation and the additional services we can offer you.
- A contingent-fee payment arrangement. This client-friendly offering provides you with the ability to wait to pay for your lawyer’s services until there has been a successful outcome to your case.
Other services we offer for our clients to aid them in attaining compensation for their injuries include:
- A valuation of the case based on the expenses and impacts that you already incurred and those you may incur.
- A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources you can access for compensation.
- Negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster to garner a fair settlement offer.
- Timely filing of court-required paperwork and attendance and representation of your case at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
Collecting and organizing the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your claim. We are pleased to have a substantial network of expert witnesses including medical professionals, accident reconstruction experts, and others that we can turn to for analysis and testimony if needed.
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting an offered settlement.
- In lieu of a fair settlement offer, litigation. Your attorney will be providing opening and closing arguments, presenting evidence, and examining witnesses during the trial.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.