Perhaps you were looking for a safe ride home after a night on the town. Perhaps your car was at the shop, and you needed to get to school. Maybe you were visiting the area and needed a ride to the airport. Whatever your reason for using an Uber, you likely didn’t call hoping to sustain an injury in a rideshare car accident.
The Benefits of Uber
While the rideshare company has seen its share of controversy and hard times since it initially began as UberCab nearly ten years ago, Uber has certainly made its mark on society. With drivers available in more than 700 cities worldwide, Uber has transformed the taxi industry and replaced the traditional activity of hailing a cab with an app in which you request a ride. Uber also provides a relatively easy way for many people to earn extra cash by using their personal cars to transport passengers for fares and tips. The company boasts impressive numbers: 75 million riders and three-million drivers, completing over 10 billion trips worldwide, with service available in 65 countries.
Uber has now branched out into a food delivery service and also offers bicycles and scooters for short-term rental in many locations, as well. Some of the benefits of Uber, as noted in the personal finance blog, Vittana, include:
- The ease of ordering a ride. It takes just minutes to download the company’s app, set up an account, enter your pickup and drop-off locations, and request a ride. Payment is handled through the app, and your ride will usually arrive within ten minutes or less.
- Rideshares tend to be cheaper than cabs. In most cities, you will pay up to 25 percent less for your Uber ride than you would if you called a taxi.
- The online payment service is safer for drivers. Unlike many taxi companies that require drivers to carry cash to make change for customers, Uber’s online payment system eliminates that hassle.
- Whatever kind of car you need. Uber not only places requirements on the age and condition of the vehicles that its drivers use, but also offers several different services. If you need a vehicle that carries a lot of passengers, a luxury vehicle, something with four-wheel drive, or wheelchair accessibility, Uber can accommodate you.
- Riders have more information. They receive information about who their driver is, what he or she looks like, the make and model of the car, and the license plate number before they’re picked up. For their own safety, riders are encouraged to compare the information that they see on their phones with the person and car that arrives for them.
- A safe ride when you’ve been drinking. Alcohol impairment is one of the major factors in accident fatalities across the country. Uber offers riders the chance to enjoy a night out without worrying about how they’re going to get home.
Uber’s Protections for Drivers and Passengers
As the company states on its website, “you deserve to go wherever the opportunity is.” Whether in response to lawsuits or due to the evolution of the business, Uber now offers a number of protections for both drivers and passengers, which we discuss below.
- Liability and uninsured motorist insurance coverage while the driver has his or her app on and is picking up and transporting passengers.
- In-app emergency assistance button to contact local authorities if a driver needs help.
- 24/7 incident support from trained customer associates.
- Follow My Ride feature, which allows family or friends to follow the driver’s route and know when the vehicle has arrived safely at the passenger’s destination.
- GPS tracking to keep a record of the trip if something happens.
- Two-way ratings so that drivers can review their passengers and passengers can review their drivers.
- Phone number anonymity. If the driver needs to contact the passenger through the app, his or her phone number remains anonymous.
- Rewards for a high number of rides and positive ratings, including cash bonuses, cash back on fuel, discounts on vehicle maintenance, and free roadside assistance.
- All drivers must pass a driving record and criminal background check, and their cars must be insured and meet age and condition requirements.
- Uber receives ongoing notifications of driving offenses for its drivers so that it can ensure that the drivers meet the screening standards.
- Yearly criminal background and motor vehicle checks are conducted on drivers.
- In-app safety features, such as an emergency assistance button and Share My Trip, which allows family and friends to know when you have safely arrived at your destination.
- Phone number anonymity. Your driver can contact you, or you can contact them, without swapping phone numbers.
- Insurance policies of up to $1 million if you are injured during your Uber ride.
Uber offers the following tips to passengers to help ensure that their ride is a safe one:
- Remain in a well-lit area, indoors, while you are arranging for and waiting for your ride.
- Before you get into the Uber car, check to make sure the license plate, make, model, and color of the car, as well as the driver’s name and appearance, match the information given to you by Uber when you arranged the ride.
- If possible, ride in the back seat of the car, particularly if you are riding alone. This not only gives the driver personal space, but also provides you with two exits should you need to get out of the vehicle for any reason.
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Share your trip details with a trusted family member or friend who will then receive notifications and can track your route and your estimated time of arrival.
- Follow your intuition. If something feels “off” when your ride arrives, don’t get into the vehicle. If you’re already in the vehicle and feel that your safety is in jeopardy, the company’s app comes with an emergency button that will put you in immediate contact with 911.
- Be sure to leave feedback about your trip, including any circumstances that caused you concern during your ride. This not only protects future riders who may encounter the same situations with the driver, but also allows the company’s 24-hour response team to follow-up with you.
How Uber’s Insurance Works
Uber’s $1 million policy for its drivers isn’t automatic or constant. It’s meant to serve as a back-up resource after the driver’s own policy limits are exhausted, and it only applies in specific circumstances. The company provides tiered insurance, depending on the driver’s status at the time of an accident, as follows:
- If the Uber driver is off duty, with his or her app off, then Uber’s insurance is not in play.
- If the Uber driver has his or her app on and is waiting to receive a request for a ride, then Uber will provide liability insurance of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury and $25,000 for property damage.
- If the Uber driver has his or her app on and is en route to pick up a passenger or is transporting a passenger, then Uber’s third-party liability coverage of $1 million comes into play. Also, if the driver maintains an insurance policy with collision coverage, Uber will provide contingent collision coverage, regardless of fault, with a $1,000 deductible.
Whose Insurance Covers Me If I Do Get Injured?
While you obviously didn’t call an Uber specifically to receive an injury, accidents do happen. Before rideshare became a popular method of transportation in Florida, people here relied on more traditional methods, such as taxis, public buses, limousine services, and rental cars. These traditional forms of transportation, known as common carriers, offer greater protection for riders in the form of a heightened duty of care that can’t be delegated to any other party. Uber policies don’t embrace this heightened duty of care, leaving those involved in Uber accidents wondering where to turn for compensation for their injuries.
If you were injured as an Uber passenger, you should look into the following options as ways to pursue compensation for your medical expenses:
- Your personal injury protection (PIP) policy. If you own a car that is registered in the state of Florida, or a family member in your household does, you are required to carry a PIP policy of at least $10,000. This policy should cover at least your initial medical expenses. For non-emergent injuries, you may receive up to $2,500. If you are found to have an emergency medical condition, your policy should cover 80 percent of reasonable and necessary medical expenses to the limit of the policy.
- The at-fault driver’s liability insurance (if he or she has liability insurance). If your expenses exceed the limit of your policy, the at-fault driver—whether that is the Uber driver or the driver of the other car—may have another insurance resource for you. If the accident was caused by another driver who happened to be in a work vehicle and acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident, your personal injury attorney will look to see if the company that driver works for also has a policy that could come into play.
- If the at-fault driver did not have adequate liability coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries, Uber offers a $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist policy that an injured passenger should consider.
- Uber’s insurance policy of up to $1 million that covers the driver’s liability if he or she caused an accident that resulted in your injuries while you were a passenger.
Can I Sue Uber?
In all likelihood, you can’t sue Uber, even if your Uber driver caused your accident. There are two main reasons for this. First, due to the laws pertaining to car insurance and personal injury lawsuits for car accidents in Florida, you cannot sue an at-fault party for your injuries unless you’ve suffered permanent injuries. Florida defines a permanent injury as involving any of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
If your injury meets the state’s permanent injury requirements, you may be eligible to seek damages for the following:
- Medical expenses beyond your PIP policy’s limits, and future medical care
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity
- The cost of household services that you are no longer able to perform as a result of your injuries
- Property that was damaged in the accident
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
By designating its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, Uber has insulated itself in most cases from being sued for accidents that its drivers may cause, which is the second reason why you likely can’t sue the company. There are special circumstances under which you can file a lawsuit against the company, though. One example is if the company is found to be negligent in its hiring practices. Background checks, including criminal history and driving records, are required for all individuals who apply to become Uber drivers. If it is later discovered that the driver caused an accident by being drunk and had a history of previous DUI convictions, then an argument could be made that Uber acted negligently in its hiring practices.
Have You Sustained an Injury in an Uber Accident?
No, you didn’t ask for injuries when you called for your Uber. Unfortunately, Uber accidents are complex undertakings that involve multiple insurance sources. If you’ve been injured in an accident while riding in an Uber, it helps to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you understand your legal options and guide you through the claims process. Seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries, and trust us to handle the legal aspects of insurance negotiations and the potential for a lawsuit. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation today.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
1820 NE 163rd St 306
North Miami Beach, FL, 33162