Since its inception in 2009, Uber has paved the way for the exponential growth of the rideshare industry. The company enjoys an impressive 69 percent market share, taking a huge chunk of the US rideshare spending. In 2020, Uber raked in 11.14 billion in revenue from its worldwide ridesharing operations.
Despite its glowing success on paper, Uber has been at the center of numerous controversies, many of which revolve around accident liabilities.
What happens if your Uber gets into an accident? Who is liable for the injuries you or your loved ones sustain? What happens if an Uber driver rear-ends you? Who’s responsible for the crash?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Who Is Liable in an Uber Accident
In standard motor vehicle accidents, insurance companies generally rely on claims adjusters to determine fault. These individuals analyze all the evidence from the crash, including medical records, police reports, pictures, and eyewitness testimonies. Based on this information, they can then determine which party is liable for the car damage and injuries associated with the crash.
While this all seems pretty straightforward, things get a little dicey when an Uber accident is involved. Uber contracts drivers to transport passengers as part of its ridesharing service. This can cause some issues when trying to determine whether the driver’s insurance policy will cover the costs of the accident.
The good news is – Uber makes it a mandatory requirement for all its drivers to have car insurance. The bad news is – it is not unusual for those insurance companies to reject claims for a number of Uber accidents that occur during a rideshare.
The company offers supplemental insurance for its drivers, but this is specifically reserved for any passenger injured in a crash. The Uber accident policy only kicks in when the driver has the app active during the ride.
Does Uber Do Background Checks
Like all big businesses, Uber makes it a priority to protect itself and its assets against potential liabilities resulting from lawsuits. As a result, the company is often unwilling to foot the costs associated with accidents caused by its drivers. This makes it difficult for an injured party to receive the rightfully entitled compensation.
In the unfortunate instances where there’s no coverage, the victim has no choice but to cover the healthcare costs themselves. Needless to say, this can cause tremendous financial hardship. Without adequate coverage, a victim could find themselves having to pay for their medical bills out-of-pocket.
While Uber conducts background checks on every prospective driver by reviewing their Motor Vehicle Report to reduce their risk exposure from accident-related lawsuits, accidents are just that – accidents. Mistakes happen. Even the most experienced and careful driver can be involved in a collision in which they may or may not be at fault.
Beyond determining which driver was at fault in an accident, it’s important to keep in mind that various factors could have been in play at the time, such as a malfunctioning vehicle. Uber accident lawyers would be able to look over the history of the vehicles in the crash to determine whether a mechanical fault was responsible for the accident. In such instances, the vehicle manufacturer would also be liable for the collision.
Uber Driver Got Into Accident – What Happens Next
If you were injured in an Uber accident, the first thing to do would be to retain the services of a competent personal injury lawyer who has experience dealing with claims against Uber. As mentioned before, insurance companies, and even Uber itself, will do just about anything to fight having to pay for the injuries and losses victims suffer in an accident.
Working with a lawyer who has experience in these types of cases will help you get the compensation you’re entitled to receive. They’ll help you review all the reports and documentation related to the crash, including the Uber accident report from the police, medical reports, eyewitness accounts, and photographic/video evidence.
It’s important that you hire a lawyer immediately after the accident occurs. This ensures that they receive an accurate account of the events leading up to the crash since the memories will still be fresh in the minds of all who are involved.
Your lawyer will then be able to analyze all the facts related to the case to determine who is responsible for the accident. That way, they can help you get the compensation you deserve. It’s never a good idea to take on a multibillion-dollar business giant such as Uber without formidable legal backing behind you.
Factors Affecting Uber Accident Claims
Two main issues affect how easy or difficult it will be for a victim to reach a settlement in an Uber accident claim.
First off, if the driver was working at the time of the incident, their personal insurance will usually not cover any passenger damages or injuries resulting from an accident that happened while they were on the clock. In such instances, Uber insurance is responsible for covering those costs.
On the other hand, if the driver did not have their ridesharing app on at the time of the accident, meaning they were not “working” and, therefore, not carrying a passenger, their insurance policy would take care of the accident costs.
Of the two factors outlined above, the first is the more complex situation to resolve – dealing with Uber’s business lawyers. Below is an overview of how a typical Uber accident claim would unfold.
Retaining an Uber Accident Attorney
Suppose you’ve been in an Uber accident and have already retained the services of a competent Uber accident lawyer. Their first step would be to determine which of the parties in the accident they should communicate with.
If there are more than two parties involved, it could take significantly longer to investigate the events leading up to the accident, the responsible party, their liability, and any other factors that could influence the outcome of the Uber accident settlement. If there were several eyewitnesses who were at the scene of the accident, the interviews and investigations would take some time as well.
Your lawyer may also need to speak with Uber’s representatives and lawyers before settlement negotiations can begin. If you were the victim of an Uber accident, you might be tempted to speak to all parties, including Uber and the insurance company. It is always better to have a lawyer speak to these entities on your behalf to avoid saying or admitting to anything that could influence the outcome of your settlement.
When dealing with the Uber insurance company, your lawyer would be the best-placed person to increase leverage when it comes to negotiating for fair and reasonable compensation in your injury claim. That way, you can avoid settling for a lowball offer that insurance companies are notorious for in claim settlements.
The Insurance Adjuster’s Assessment
One of the biggest mistakes victims of Uber accidents make is speaking to insurance claims adjusters without a lawyer present. If you do, you might end up inadvertently giving away critical details of the accident that could impact the settlement amount you receive.
Remember, Uber insurance companies have the best interests of the ridesharing company at heart. They would do their best to minimize their risk exposure and attempt to provide the least possible settlement amount to the victim even if the Uber driver was at fault.
Car accident lawyers deal with insurance adjusters on a day-to-day basis. If they notice any unwillingness on the adjuster’s part to assist the victim get a fair and reasonable offer, they would be able to take up the matter with the courts.
Navigating the Case Complexities
Uber crashes, and rideshare accidents in general, are full of complexities that need to be handled by legal experts who are well-versed in such matters. Several different legal concerns may arise, including additional state-imposed burdens on the Uber driver and victim, depending on the jurisdiction.
The lawyer you choose to handle your case should have adequate experience and specialization in Uber accidents and the associated state laws that govern such claims. They then need to properly communicate these issues with the Uber insurance companies.
Some of the discussion points pertinent to the claim in question include the injuries suffered by the victim, damages such as the destruction of the car and any other property, and the party responsible for the accident. All parties will then need to negotiate for the best possible and most reasonable settlement if everything progresses without contention from either side.
At the point of retaining a lawyer to represent you in your claim, you will need to provide them with all the necessary information related to your accident. This includes providing details on the series of events leading up to the collision.
If you have onboard footage or access to surveillance that shows how the accident in question occurred, it could go a long way in increasing the strength of your claim and revealing who the at-fault party is.
How to Prove Fault in an Uber Accident
One of the first questions that will come up in an Uber accident is who the at-fault party is. The answer to this question will have a significant bearing on the outcome of your injury claim. It will determine which party’s insurance will be responsible for covering the costs of damages and injuries you incurred in the crash.
With that in mind, there are generally three ways in which the victim of an Uber crash can prove liability in an accident claim.
1. Research Your State’s Traffic Laws
First, you need to be familiar with your municipality, county, and state traffic laws. The Department of Motor Vehicles usually has a book detailing the basic traffic rules. Additionally, court and state government websites have links and references to online resources the public can use to get traffic rules, laws, and road-related information.
It’s also a good idea to look into the model jury directives for specific courthouses within your jurisdiction. It will give you a basic idea of the criteria the courts use when ruling on motor vehicle accident cases. You might find guidelines specific to your claim.
For instance, some states have specific rules related to left-turn car collisions. In most jurisdictions, the party that was turning will usually be at fault, and not the party that was headed straight when the crash occurred.
2. Read the Police Report
More often than not, police officers will usually show up at the scene of a car crash. If there was an officer present, they would likely have made an incident or accident report regarding the crash. In most cases, officers will give their objective opinion on who was at fault. The report may also contain evidence supporting this opinion.
3. Analyze the Evidence
The scene of an accident contains more objective evidence compared to the parties’ respective recollections of the events leading up to the collision. A great source of objective evidence is examining the damage done to both vehicles. It’s important to collect this information before the vehicles get towed off for repairs. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene capturing the damage on each vehicle.
The location of the car damage can point to who was at fault in the crash. For instance, if one of the vehicles in the accident has front-end damage while the other has damage to the backend, it can help determine that the accident was a rear-end collision, whether or not both parties agree on this.
Can You Sue Uber if You Get In an Accident
The short answer is – usually, no. Uber considers each driver an independent contractor. As a result, they can deny liability for injuries resulting from accidents involving their drivers. The best course of action would be to get in touch with an experienced attorney, particularly one who is well-versed in handling Uber accident lawsuits. That way, you can explore the different avenues for legal recourse available to you.
In cases where the other driver (not the Uber you were in) is responsible for the accident while you were riding as a passenger, the other driver’s insurance policy would kick in to cover the costs of your injuries. If their insurance policy doesn’t adequately cover your medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the accident, Uber’s insurance policy would be able to cover those costs to protect you as a passenger.