Rideshare services like Uber have been skyrocketing in popularity over the last few years. The appeal is easy to see: Uber can pick you up with a touch of a button on your phone without you needing to wait upwards of an hour for a car to arrive. You do not need to flag anybody down like you would a taxi. On top of all that, ridesharing services are also usually cheaper than any other vehicles for hire. They are also generally cleaner and more personable than taxi cabs.
The list can go on and on. In some cases, many drivers seem to prefer the flexibility of working for Uber over a taxi cab service as well. However, even for all of these benefits, the rise of rideshare services has brought up a lot of questions in terms of insurance and liability. It can be difficult to pinpoint just who is at fault for an automobile accident involving a rideshare vehicle—is Uber responsible? Is the driver alone? Is the insurance company? These questions and others like it will only grow more and more urgent as the popularity of ridesharing apps like Uber grow.
It is especially important to have the answers to these questions in cases where passengers, drivers, and/or pedestrians have suffered personal injury and are entitled to seek out legal damages. If you employ rideshare services frequently, it is in your best interest to know what to expect in the unfortunate case your driver ever gets in an accident—or even if you ever get involved in a car accident with a rideshare driver.
Rideshare accidents are distinct from other types of automobile accidents in that they are considered neither wholly personal vehicles or commercial vehicles. If you are involved in a rideshare accident and make a police report, the officer has no obligation to report that an Uber vehicle was involved—thereby leaving no official record of there being a rideshare accident at all.
While Uber executives have not disclosed any actual statistics on Uber accidents, their website does state that they cover all their drivers under their insurance policy prior to the drivers accepting a fare. In such cases, there is a coverage of $50,000 in injury liability per person. This amount increases to $1 million once the driver starts making their way to the rider and up until the ride is finished.
Uber also requires their drivers to carry their own personal insurance. The amount required on these policies varies state by state. However, there are some loopholes that may allow Uber to not cover any injured parties if the accident is serious. Thus, the effectiveness of an Uber insurance policy can really vary case by case.
Many consumer advocates view Uber’s terms and conditions with skepticism, seeing them instead as a means of getting riders to sign away their rights. Riders agree to these terms and conditions as soon as they download the app and request a ride, and very few people ever actually read them. It gets somewhat more complicated when considering that Uber drivers are not actually employees, but independent contractors. This protects the company in the case of an accident and has the potential to shift the liability onto the driver.
An independent contractor is different from an employee in that an independent contractor works primarily for themselves. This may include providing services for someone else. Independent contractors have the power to set their own schedule, perform contract rather than salaried work, and are responsible for their own business expenses. An employee, on the other hand, is under company control when it comes to how they execute the responsibilities of the job. An employer will also withhold a portion of an employee’s wages for relevant taxes.
Of course, Uber claims that rider and driver safety is their number one priority. It is difficult to say for certain just how any rideshare accident will end up, especially as cases may vary state by state following whatever precedents have been set there. A recent case in New Jersey ruled that a driver’s own insurance policy is liable if they are not logged into the Uber app at the time of the accident. However, if an Uber driver is carrying a passenger, the driver and company both must maintain a total of $1.5 million in coverage for death, bodily injury, and property damage.
Although Uber offers many of the conveniences that make life easier in our modern-day world, dealing with rideshare accidents can be messy. This is especially true if you are involved in a sort of accident for which there is no precedent. If you have suffered as a result of an Uber accident, do not wait to see whether or not your accident will be covered. A competent attorney who understands the ins-and-outs of personal injury law, insurance policies, Uber policies, and more can help you collect the damages you deserve.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a rideshare accident and suffered personal injury as a result, it is in your best interest to seek out the help of a qualified attorney as soon as possible. No matter where you are located in the States, the attorneys at Injury Victim Law are here to help. We are a Colorado-based firm of nationwide personal injury lawyers working with a team of experts and investigators in order to get you the results you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.
At Injury Victim Law, we are dedicated to resolving your case as expediently as possible. We do not believe you should suffer for someone else’s mistakes. Personal injury can change your life forever. You are entitled to certain legal rights and damages. Waiting too long may hurt your chances of ever defending them. We use all the tools at our disposal to resolving your case successfully. We have the real world experience to know how to go about handling your case.