Injured in an Uber Accident: Who Is Liable?

February 5, 2024
Injured in an Uber Accident: Who Is Liable?

With its convenience, competitive fares, and ease of use, Uber has quickly become a part of everyday life for millions of Americans. However, as the number of Uber vehicles increases, so does the number of Uber accidents. And when they do, injured passengers have many questions, including, “Who is liable?” and “How do I recover compensation?” People have had difficulty understanding liability and compensation options in Uber accidents for many years, and no wonder why. The question of liability is very nuanced and fact-specific when a car accident involves an Uber vehicle. That is why consulting with a rideshare accident attorney and discussing your situation might make sense.

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Who Can You Hold Liable After an Uber Accident?

If you suffered an injury as an Uber passenger, the liable party will depend on multiple factors, including whose actions caused the crash. The responsible party will be on the hook to pay for all damages and losses incurred by the victim. Depending on the Uber accident, potentially liable parties may include:
  • The Uber driver - If the Uber driver was responsible for causing the accident, they can be held accountable for your damages. These situations include instances where the driver was speeding, distracted, or driving while fatigued.
  • Uber - Uber can also be liable for damages if there is evidence that they were indirectly responsible for the accident. For example, if the company fails to vet its drivers properly, it can be liable.
  • Third-party driver - If another driver caused the accident, they may be responsible for damages, even if the driver is not an Uber driver. If the other driver was at fault, their liability insurance may pay out claims up to policy limits.
  • The manufacturer of the car or its parts - In some cases, a defective part or faulty mechanism in the vehicle can cause an accident. If this is the case, the manufacturer of the car or its parts may bear responsibility for the accident.
  • Local government - While rare, the local government may be responsible for an Uber accident. This liability can happen if there is evidence of poor road conditions or inadequate safety measures in the area where the crash occurred.
If you suffered an injury in an Uber accident through no fault of your own, you should not have to pay for your losses out of pocket. However, given that Uber accidents are more complex than typical car accidents, you may need a lawyer. Even though Uber is available in almost all major cities across the United States, there are still plenty of legal concerns about Uber and its ridesharing business model, including:
  • Uber drivers are not professional drivers - There is no specialized training or license to become an Uber driver, so passengers often get transported by a driver who lacks experience and whose actions may put them at risk of harm. However, Uber claims it performs robust screening of prospective drivers, and, according to the company’s recent report, over 500,000 applicants failed the background check.
  • Uber drivers are not employees - Uber does not classify its drivers as employees. Instead, they are independent contractors. In the eyes of the law, there is a considerable difference between employees and independent contractors. For example, when an employee injures someone during their employment, their employer is automatically liable under the legal theory of vicarious liability. Independent contractors do not follow the same standards. However, the law in most states holds Uber’s insurance liable for accidents drivers cause under certain circumstances, though it does not follow the usual principles of vicarious liability.
  • Uber drivers must use their phones to work - Uber requires drivers to use its app when out on the road, meaning drivers must use their phones to accept rides, follow GPS coordinates, and call their passengers, which increases the risk of distracted driving. The law on distracted driving differs from one state to another. For example, in Florida, drivers are prohibited from manually typing or entering anything into their cell phone or another wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle.
Despite these concerns, many people prefer Uber over a taxi because rideshare services are often more affordable and convenient. However, when an accident occurs, the question of liability can quickly become complicated and usually requires the guidance of a lawyer.

How Do You Determine Liability in Uber Accidents?

When an Uber accident occurs, there can be a determination of fault through:
  • Police reports - When an Uber accident (or any other crash, for that matter) occurs, the police are usually called to the scene to investigate and prepare a report. Among other details, the report will usually contain the officer’s determination of fault. However, such determinations are not always 100 percent accurate, which is why it is possible to challenge what the police report says about liability.
  • Eyewitness accounts - Statements from witnesses are a credible source of evidence when determining liability in any traffic accident. Eyewitnesses may provide information about how fast the vehicles were going, what maneuvers were performed by the drivers before the crash, and other relevant information.
  • Driver and passenger statements - The statements made by the Uber driver, other drivers involved in the accident, and passengers in the vehicles are essential information when an accident occurs.
  • Uber’s records - Uber maintains detailed records of all trips taken on its platform, including information about the drivers and passengers involved in the accident. These records can determine who was driving the vehicle, who requested the ride, the pickup and drop-off times, and much more.
  • Photos - Photographs taken at the scene can provide credible evidence regarding fault, especially if they clearly show the positioning of the vehicles, the extent of damage to the cars, skid marks, road signs, and other relevant information.
  • Video surveillance footage - If available, video surveillance footage showing the moment of the crash is some of the most irrefutable and compelling evidence in any traffic accident, including one involving an Uber vehicle.
  • Accident reconstruction testimony - When liability is unclear, an accident reconstruction expert can often testify how the accident occurred. Accident reconstruction experts use physics and engineering principles to analyze the evidence and provide an impartial opinion on what happened.
  • Traffic violations. Traffic violations are another factor that may influence the determination of liability. For example, if the Uber driver ran a red light or was texting while driving, this can be used as evidence of negligence that led to the accident.
As an accident victim, you may need an unbiased opinion and knowledgeable legal advice from an attorney to understand who is liable for your Uber accident. An attorney will carefully evaluate your accident's facts and determine which party bears liability for the crash.

Insurance Coverage in Uber Accidents

Uber provides liability insurance covering accidents involving its drivers, passengers, and third parties. Whether or not the rideshare company’s insurance will cover up to $1 million in damages depends on the circumstances surrounding the crash and the driver’s status on the Uber app. Uber created specific guidelines regarding when the company is responsible for providing coverage. Let’s look at the scenarios where Uber covers accidents:
  • The Uber driver is available on the app - Sometimes, it takes quite a while for Uber drivers to find a ride. Suppose an accident occurs while the driver is available on the app. In that case, Uber’s insurance provides third-party liability coverage, which covers $50,000 in injury damages per person but no more than $100,000 per accident. The policy also offers $25,000 in coverage for property damage.
  • While en route to pick up the passenger - When an Uber driver is on their way to pick up their passenger, they are also covered by Uber’s insurance. The coverage differs slightly from when they are waiting for ride requests. If an accident occurs en route, the insurance policy offers $1 million in coverage for damage to property and injuries to passengers and third parties.
  • On the trip with the passenger - Uber provides the same coverage during an Uber driver’s trip with passengers as it does when the driver is on their way to the rider’s pickup point.
However, the company’s insurance policies may not cover accidents involving an Uber vehicle. Below are the scenarios where coverage may not apply:
  • The driver’s Uber app is not active - This includes accidents with vehicles displaying an Uber sticker when the driver’s app is not active. In such cases, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy will kick in to cover the damages.
  • Continuing to drive with the passenger when the trip is supposed to end - After your driver arrives at the original drop-off destination, please refrain from requesting additional stops to get closer to your desired location or another place. If an accident occurs during such an unofficial trip, Uber’s insurance policy may not apply.
  • Riding with an unauthorized driver - The Uber app displays the make and model of the vehicle on its way to pick you up. Always ensure that the vehicle that arrives to pick you up matches the vehicle description in the app because the company's insurance does not cover accidents that occur while riding with an authorized driver.
Generally, the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance will refuse to cover any damages that occur while the policyholder is driving for ridesharing companies because they are using the vehicle for commercial purposes. Even when Uber’s insurance coverage is available, getting this coverage to pay for all your medical expenses and other losses may not be easy. An attorney can navigate the legal complexities of your claim and fight for the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
Chris Castillo, Attorney for Uber Accident
Chris Castillo, Uber Accident Attorney

How Can an Attorney Help You After an Uber Accident?

Uber is said to have facilitated more than 42 billion trips since its inception in 2010. While most of these trips end well, some lead to accidents. If you were involved in one and do not know what to do next and how to hold the liable parties accountable for your losses and damages, consider contacting an attorney. Some of the ways an attorney can help include:
  • Seeking maximum compensation - If you have become a victim of an Uber accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your losses, including medical expenses and lost income. However, getting the compensation you deserve is not always straightforward and streamlined. An attorney with experience handling Uber accident cases can determine the value of your case, negotiate favorable settlement offers, and be willing to take your case to court if doing so is necessary to obtain the compensation you deserve.
  • Providing knowledgeable guidance - An experienced attorney will provide you with the legal guidance you need to navigate the complexities of the legal process. You will understand your legal rights, options, and what to expect during the claims process. In the years of experience handling Uber accidents, attorneys have seen all sorts of issues that may arise during a legal claim against Uber and its drivers and will know exactly how to manage them.
  • Determining liability - Any legal claim against Uber or its drivers begins with determining liability. With an attorney’s help, you can establish liability and identify all the responsible parties to maximize your compensation.
  • Navigating the insurance process - Filing an insurance claim after an Uber accident may seem daunting, especially since Uber drivers are typically independent contractors. However, an attorney will walk you through the insurance process, ensuring you get the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
  • Giving you peace of mind - Your attorney can provide peace of mind during this stressful and challenging time. By letting your lawyer take care of all the legal work, you can focus on your recovery and rebuilding your life. An attorney can handle the paperwork, communications, and negotiations, so you do not have to worry.
Knowledge is power when determining liability and pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses after an Uber accident. With a personal injury lawfirm by your side, you can make informed decisions concerning your legal recourse.

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