Ridesharing services like Uber are controversial in many cities. A lot of people recognize their benefits such as less impaired drivers on the road and pooling resources to reduce gasoline consumption. Despite these advantages, there have been many Uber auto accidents and victims are often unsure where to turn for help in these sometimes tragic cases.
What is Uber?
Uber is a revolutionary alternative to taxi cabs that is both more affordable and easier to use. Using a smartphone app with GPS capability, riders request service from the nearest driver in major cities around the world. Drivers sign up to work for Uber using their private vehicles and all payments are handled electronically.
Common Causes of Uber Accidents
Despite the novelty and the stated benefits, Uber accidents do occur. The most common causes are:
- Distracted driving – Few Uber drivers intuitively know where you live. Uber is app-driven and too many drivers spend drive time either staring at a GPS or at their Uber app.
- Lack of sleep – At one point, there was no time limit on Uber shifts. News reports of Uber drivers working 19 hours per day appear to have prompted a policy change.
- Poorly maintained vehicles – Ridesharing can be tough on vehicles and maintenance for such things as tires and brakes is needed to ensure safety.
- Driver negligence – Some Uber drivers simply don’t have sufficient years experience behind the wheel to handle this responsibility.
- DUI – Driving under the influence is also a problem in this industry that can lead to tragic accidents.
Types of Damages from Uber Accidents
If you’re involved in an accident with an Uber driver, whether you are in the vehicle, in your own car, or even a pedestrian, you may be able to get financial compensation for your damages. Types of damages that victims of these accidents receive include:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses (current and future)
- Loss of income
- Loss of future earning capacity if disability results
- Pain, suffering, and emotional trauma
Some Deadly Uber Accident Cases
In 2013, a 6 year-old pedestrian was killed when she was struck by a San Francisco Uber driver. Since the driver wasn’t on an active fare, even though he had his Uber app on, Uber denied responsibility and later settled a wrongful death claim against its company. There was a similar accident in New York in 2015 but Uber has since changed the way that it approaches these incidents.
In December 2015, an Uber driver in Seminole County, Florida ran a red light and crashed into a deputy’s car, leading to the death of the passenger in the Uber vehicle. In January 2016, an Uber passenger in Miami was killed when the driver violated a right of way, contributing to a deadly crash.
Are Uber Drivers Insured?
Uber advertises on its safety page that it has $1 million in insurance coverage. Yet, getting coverage for accidents isn’t as simple as it seems. Uber drivers are independent contractors and, as of several years ago, getting compensated for accidents was a challenge at best. Uber has long expected its drivers to carry personal auto insurance coverage and submit any damages through their own insurance companies. As these personal lines carriers have caught on to drivers using personal vehicles for commercial use, this is now a common exclusion on most auto insurance policies, so a claim will be quickly denied.
Instead of being a transportation company, Uber brands itself as a technology company and often tries to put off responsibility for accidents on its drivers. While the $1 million in coverage is in place, it could be difficult to assess damages without the help of a personal injury attorney who is experienced in Uber accidents.
Are There Any Gaps in Uber Insurance Coverage?
While there are some uncertainties, there is almost always some sort of coverage when an accident involves an Uber driver. Despite coverage expansion in recent years, there are times that you could be involved in an accident with an Uber vehicle where coverage might be in question. For example, some Uber drivers also drive for Lyft and might have both apps running in their car.
Ridesharing services, insurers, and lawmakers have divided the time spent by drivers into three periods. Period 1 is when a driver doesn’t have a fare and could have several ride-sharing apps activated. Period 2 is when a passenger is matched but not yet in the vehicle and Period 3 is when a passenger is in the car.
If you are in an accident with an Uber driver during Period 1 activity there may not be coverage as they aren’t considered “on the clock.” There is a gap in coverage for which there is a new ride-hail insurance policy, which so far only a small percentage of drivers are purchasing. However, if someone is injured during period 1 and there is no other coverage, Uber now has a contingent liability policy that will pay up to $50,000 per injury and $100,000 per accident.
What Happens if I Get Hurt in an Uber Vehicle?
If you are involved in an accident with an Uber vehicle, you will want to take several important steps to protect your rights.
- If you are injured, call an ambulance or seek medical attention right away.
- Contact the police department and ask for a copy of the police report. Don’t trust that the driver will handle this on your behalf.
- Obtain the insurance information and license plate numbers of all drivers involved.
- Avoid speaking with the other parties insurance company, as statements made could diminish your claim and any waivers signed could forfeit your future rights.
- Contact an attorney who specializes in auto accidents and has knowledge of Uber cases or other ridesharing agreements.
Getting Help If You’re Injured in an Uber Accident
If you’ve been involved in an Uber accident, we can help. Our experienced personal injury accident lawyers will review your case and do everything possible to protect your rights. In Connecticut, the law permits a civil claim to be filed within two years of the incident, so time is of the essence. We have years of experience in personal injury and auto accident cases, and we will stand by your side to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact The Upton Law Firm today to schedule a free evaluation with one of our top Connecticut personal injury attorneys.