Injured in an Uber Accident: Who Is Liable?

Posted On January 5, 2024 Car Accidents
Injured in an Uber Accident Who Is Liable

Uber has made transportation more convenient for millions of people in the United States and worldwide. The app-based service has forever changed the way we travel, providing an affordable, accessible, and safe transportation option to millions of passengers every day. However, even with all the benefits of Uber, the ridesharing service is not immune to accidents.

When you get into an accident while riding as an Uber passenger, or if you were the driver involved in an Uber accident, you need to understand who is liable and how to seek compensation for the damages and losses you have suffered. Determining liability depends on the circumstances surrounding the Uber accident, as every case is unique and requires an individualized assessment by a knowledgeable rideshare accident lawyer.

 

Common Causes of Uber Accidents

Uber accidents may occur for a wide range of reasons. Factors that cause or contribute to accidents involving rideshare vehicles may vary from one accident to another, but some of the most common ones are:

  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving can occur due to several actions like texting, eating, sipping on coffee, reaching for something in the backseat, or using a navigation system while driving. The Uber driver may also be distracted by conversations with passengers or other external factors that take their attention off the road. As a passenger, you want to ensure that your driver remains focused on the road when transporting you to the destination. If you notice the driver’s attention is declining or observe anything potentially hazardous, do not be afraid or embarrassed to tell them to focus on the road. After all, your safety is at stake.
  • Inexperienced driver. Uber provides an extensive onboarding process for new drivers, but some accidents may still happen because inexperienced drivers lack the practical skills to make good driving decisions. To minimize Uber accidents caused by inexperienced drivers, always check the driver’s rating before getting into the vehicle. A low rating can suggest that the particular driver is not experienced enough or that they engage in risky driving behaviors.
  • Fatigue. Non-stop driving for long hours can cause fatigue, which may result in the driver making poor decisions behind the wheel. Drivers must maintain a realistic driving schedule to keep fatigue and drowsiness at bay, but, unfortunately, many Uber drivers prioritize their profits over their passengers’ safety. Statistically speaking, fatigued and drowsy driving contributed to nearly 330,000 crashes annually.
  • Speeding. Speeding not only heightens the risk of a collision but also reduces the driver’s control of the vehicle. Uber drivers who disregard speeding limits pose a high risk to the safety of their passengers and other people on the road. If necessary, passengers should urge them to slow down and drive responsibly.
  • Inadequate vehicle maintenance. Regular inspection and proper vehicle maintenance are critical for every vehicle, especially when the vehicle is used for commercial purposes to drive 50 to 100+ miles per day. Drivers who neglect the maintenance of their vehicles may end up causing accidents that result in injury to passengers and harm to other road users.
  • Reckless driving. Drivers who drive recklessly put themselves and others at risk of harm. Passengers should always be on the lookout for signs of reckless driving, such as sudden lane changes, erratic braking, and excessive speed. Do not be afraid to speak up if you think your Uber driver is driving recklessly.
  • Failure to yield the right of way. Failure to yield the right of way usually happens when drivers fail to yield to pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists. This failure to prioritize pedestrian safety can result in serious injuries and fatalities. As a passenger, always be mindful of traffic lights, crosswalks, and signs. If your driver fails to yield, ask them to slow down and follow the traffic rules or end the ride immediately.
  • Passenger behavior. Although rare, passengers may also play a role in Uber accidents. Drunk passengers and passengers who distract the driver can increase the risk of an accident. As a passenger, remain calm and respectful and never engage in any behavior that puts yourself, the driver, or others at risk.

The factors that cause or contribute to an Uber accident can directly affect the determination of liability. However, in many cases, these factors are on the surface, which may require investigating how the accident happened and whose actions led to the crash.

Who Is Liable in an Uber Accident?

Uber Accident

Generally, liability for an accident involving Uber may fall on any of the following parties:

  • The Uber driver. In most cases, the primary party responsible for an Uber accident is the driver of the rideshare vehicle. Like any other driver on the road, Uber drivers have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and caution while operating their vehicles for commercial purposes. If they are negligent or at fault, they can be responsible for any injuries or damages that result from the accident. However, Uber drivers are independent contractors and not employees, which can complicate matters when it comes to liability, something that we will discuss in the following sections.
  • Other drivers. However, accidents involving Uber are not always the fault of the Uber driver but rather another driver involved in the collision. If so, the other driver may be responsible for the damages. Uber’s insurance may come into play if the other driver does not have insurance or their insurance will not cover the damages.
  • Uber. Uber carries liability insurance that covers accidents involving its drivers, passengers, and third parties. If the Uber driver is at fault, their insurance may cover up to $1 million in damages, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the driver’s Uber app status. However, getting compensation from Uber can be somewhat complex and often requires the assistance of a skilled lawyer with experience in helping Uber accident victims recover damages.
  • Hit-and-run driver. If the at-fault driver in the Uber accident leaves the scene and the police cannot identify them, injured victims may still recover damages through their uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage as long as they have one. This type of insurance coverage is designed to cover damages when the at-fault driver lacks insurance, does not have sufficient insurance coverage, or cannot be identified. Unlike many other states, Connecticut requires all drivers to carry liability insurance and UM/UIM coverage.
  • Vehicle manufacturer. When an Uber accident results from a defect in the vehicle itself, the manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts may be liable for any damages and injuries caused to the parties involved. Victims can typically pursue compensation from manufacturers through a product liability claim, which can be challenging to navigate without legal counsel.

In most cases, identifying the liable parties in an Uber accident may require a thorough accident investigation conducted by a skilled lawyer.

Liability & Insurance After an Uber Accident

Determining liability in an Uber accident can be complex. The driver, Uber, and other parties may all share responsibility for the accident and resulting injuries. Some factors to consider when determining who is liable include:

  • Whether the driver was using the app at the time of the accident
  • Whether the driver was on duty or off duty
  • Whether the driver was logged in to the app but not actively driving
  • Whether the driver was using their personal car or a registered Uber vehicle

Uber, just like any other transportation company, must carry sufficient insurance to cover any accidents while their drivers are on the road. When a passenger is involved in an accident while riding in an Uber, they may be covered under Uber’s liability insurance policy. This policy covers up to $1 million in damages caused by the accident, including medical expenses and property damage. Generally, the Uber driver’s personal insurance is not responsible for covering any damages or injuries that occur while driving for Uber because they use their vehicle for commercial purposes.

When the Uber driver is responsible for the accident, Uber’s insurance policy will cover the damages and injuries of the other parties involved in the accident, including the passenger. However, if another driver caused the accident, injured victims can pursue compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.

Liability in Uber Accident

If you are an Uber driver involved in an accident, things can be a bit more complicated. Uber’s insurance policy will only cover damages and injuries if the driver is “on the clock” and actively engaged in rideshare activities. If you, as an Uber driver, are not actively engaged in rideshare activities and are offline on the app, your personal insurance policy may be responsible for covering the damages or injuries.

If you are waiting for requests or have accepted a ride but have not yet picked up the passenger, Uber’s insurance policy typically provides limited coverage, known as “contingent liability.” This coverage typically covers up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage.

Factors That Affect Liability in an Uber Accident

A multitude of factors will come into play when it comes to determining liability after an Uber accident. Some of them are:

The Uber App Status

The Uber app status is the first factor determining accident liability. If an accident occurs when the driver’s app is off, their personal auto insurance policy covers them. Uber’s third-party liability policy may apply if the driver’s app is on and the driver is waiting for a ride request. Finally, if the accident occurs when Uber is en route to pick up the rider or the ride is ongoing, Uber’s policy provides $1 million in liability coverage per accident.

Personal Car for Commercial Use

Most Uber drivers use their personal vehicles for commercial purposes, creating a complex scenario regarding insurance coverage. Personal auto insurance policies often refuse to cover drivers while operating their cars for commercial purposes. Uber requires its drivers to have personal auto insurance policies that meet the state’s minimum coverage requirements. In Connecticut, motorists must carry auto insurance with bodily harm liability of at least $25,000 per person ($50,000 per accident) and a minimum of $25,000 per accident in property damage liability. Uber’s insurance policy covers drivers using their car for commercial purposes for up to $1 million in coverage.

The Nature of the Accident

The nature of the accident determines liability to a large extent. If the Uber driver is at fault, their personal auto insurance policy or Uber’s insurance policy may apply to cover the victims’ damages. If the other driver is at fault, that driver’s insurance should cover the victims’ damages.

The State’s Regulations

Uber operates in jurisdictions governed by different regulations. Insurance coverage varies depending on the state’s regulations where the accident occurs. In some states, Uber must provide coverage from the minute the driver turns on the app, even if there is no ride request. In other states, they only must provide coverage when the driver has accepted a ride request. Uber also offers contingent collision and comprehensive coverage for drivers who have their own commercial auto insurance policies.

Brian Flood, Attorney for Car Accident

Brian Flood, Uber Accident Lawyer

Do You Need a Lawyer After an Uber Accident?

When someone is involved in an accident involving a vehicle that transports passengers who request rides through a ridesharing app such as Uber, the process of obtaining compensation can be complicated and nuanced. That is why you, as the victim, may need a lawyer to understand the complexities of liability in your Uber accident and pursue the compensation you are owed.

Typically, seeking compensation after an Uber accident involves:

  • Filing a lot of paperwork.
  • Communicating with Uber and insurance companies.
  • Engaging in negotiations.

You are likely to face uncertainties and challenges when handling the legal aspects of your claim, especially if you also must focus on your medical treatment to get better. That is why you may need the assistance of a lawyer whose job is to secure the full and fair compensation rightfully due. Your lawyer will take care of the legalities of your case so you can focus on healing from your injuries and returning to your normal life without worrying about anything.

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