Since its inception in 2009, Uber has become a go-to driving service and a popular alternative to taxis for those in need of swift and easy transportation. Unfortunately, Uber and its drivers are no less prone to automobile accidents than other motorists. With a checkered statutory landscape across the country, it is important to understand the laws and company policies that govern how or whether victims of Uber rideshare accidents can seek compensation for sustained injuries.
Table of contents
- Do Uber Drivers Qualify as Employees?
- How Does Uber Approve the Contracting of Drivers?
- Is Uber Liable for Rideshare Accidents?
- How Do I Prove that An Uber Independent Contractor Was Negligent?
- Is Uber Liable for Pedestrian and Non-Customer Injuries?
- Who Will Pay for My Damages from an Uber Rideshare Accident?
- Should I File an Uber Accident Lawsuit?
- Qualified Uber Attorneys Nearby Are Ready To Help
Do Uber Drivers Qualify as Employees?
One point of confusion for victims of Uber rideshare accidents is determining whether or not Uber drivers are actually employees. The short answer is no. Uber drivers sign a contract after their application has been approved which indicates that they are not employees of the company.
Uber drivers are independent contractors. In the context of Uber transportation services, independent contractors are freelancers who rely upon their private vehicles to drive people around for a fare. This is the major difference between rideshare companies and taxi companies, which own vehicles and actually hire employees to drive them.
Although the difference may seem slight, it is highly important for determining liability in the unfortunate instance of an Uber car accident.
How Does Uber Approve the Contracting of Drivers?
Like other companies, Uber wants to ensure that it is not contracting people who have a known track record of reckless driving or lack safe and roadworthy means of transportation. Aside from asking for a valid driver’s license, registration card, and insurance proof, Uber will request two sets of documents from an applicant and conduct a vehicle inspection.
The first document that an Uber applicant must provide is his driving record. Uber outsources the review of documents to a third party which will determine whether or not the applicant is a reliable and safe driver via a background check. This third party also reviews the criminal history of an Uber driver applicant.
Despite the fact that Uber makes an effort to ensure that its independent contractors are reliable drivers, it can also make oversights which could render it liable in an Uber accident claim or case.
Is Uber Liable for Rideshare Accidents?
The major difficulty in most Uber accident cases is determining liability. In certain circumstances, Uber and its insurance provider are liable for a rideshare wreck. However, Uber has gone to great lengths to shield itself from liability, in spite of constantly shifting judicial and legislative standards in various states.
Generally speaking, there are several instances in which Uber and/or an Uber driver and their respective policy providers may be liable for a rideshare accident.
Uber’s Liability For Rideshare Accidents
Uber may be liable for a rideshare accident if it:
- Failed to conduct a thorough background check of the Uber driver
- Failed to analyze the Uber contractor’s driving history
- Failed to inspect the Uber driver’s vehicle safety
- The Uber driver was logged into the Uber app (“online”) when the injury occurred
The Uber Driver’s Liability for an Uber Accident
The legal calculus gets slightly more complicated when it comes to determining the liability of the Uber driver. One reason for this is because Uber requires that its independent contractors have their own private insurance. However, private policy providers rarely provide coverage for an accident that occurred when a driver was using their vehicle primarily for business. When this happens and in lieu of a commercial policy that would typically cover vehicles primarily used for business, Uber’s insurance will sometimes provide designated financial assistance to its drivers.
The other problem is that Uber can and does contest liability. The major criterion for determining Uber independent contractor liability is in what capacity an Uber driver was acting when deemed at-fault for an accident.
If an Uber independent contractor is on the Uber app and advertising his services or “waiting for a ride request” and causes an accident in this interim period, his personal insurance provider may be liable. Should his insurance provider deny liability or fail to cover all due compensation, Uber may provide up to
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
If an Uber driver is “en route to pick up riders and during trips” after they accept the request for a ride and causes an accident, and has an insurance provider that denies liability, Uber’s insurance coverage may devote up to $1 million for settling with the victim.
How Do I Prove that An Uber Independent Contractor Was Negligent?
The basis of personal injury law is the concept of negligence which is the failure to address or inadequate addressing of known dangerous conditions that can pose danger to other parties. In the context of rideshare personal injury claims, a victim in search of due compensation must prove negligence alongside determining which provider or party is liable.
In order to prove that an Uber independent contractor acted negligently, you must demonstrate that:
- The Uber driver owed you a duty of care
- The Uber driver breached that duty of care
- The breach of the duty of care caused the Uber accident
- The rideshare wreck caused your injuries
For automobile accidents, duty of care typically refers to the obligation that a driver owes to other motorists and passengers on the road not to endanger or harm them.
Is Uber Liable for Pedestrian and Non-Customer Injuries?
For the most part, the same criteria that determine liability in passenger-related injuries also apply to injuries which an Uber independent contractor caused to a pedestrian and/or non-client. Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) minimum coverage imperatives likewise apply.
For example, if you are riding a bike in the cycling lane and an Uber driver in transit strikes you, both he and Uber may be liable. However, the initial medical costs that you confront, from emergency transportation to testing, must be covered, at first, by Florida’s mandatory PIP coverage you receive from your policy provider. Once the capped PIP threshold is surpassed, then you can seek compensation in the form of either an out-of-court settlement or through the initiation of legal proceedings.
Who Will Pay for My Damages from an Uber Rideshare Accident?
In Florida, motorists are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in auto insurance. The goal of this requisite coverage is to bolster Florida’s “no-fault” status which is designed to ensure that victims in a car accident can rely upon their own insurance providers up to a certain amount for financial assistance.
However, if you get into a serious rideshare accident and are facing major medical expenses, the PIP funds will likely be insufficient to cover the costs of treatment, transportation, and time lost. Once your costs exceed the PIP minimum, you can then file a claim with the insurance provider of the liable party.
Until you can reach some kind of out-of-court settlement, pretrial settlement, or, in more extreme cases, a favorable verdict after an Uber trial, you and your insurance provider will be responsible for covering expenses.
Should I File an Uber Accident Lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits can be lengthy and testing. Both the potential plaintiffs and the defendants in automobile accident lawsuits want to avoid a trial if they can help it. Although you may have a chance at getting a higher payout from the policy provider during a trial, you also run the risk of losing and getting nothing. On the other hand, the policy provider itself risks being held liable in court and ordered to pay out a handsome sum in damages.
Rideshare accident settlements provide one way in which to avoid legal proceedings while acquiring compensation for sustained damages. However, insurance providers of all stripes are interested in paying the absolute minimum and are well-versed in intimidating unrepresented victims.
Even if you do not intend to resort to legal proceedings to resolve your claims with the insurance provider, it is worthwhile to consult with a rideshare car accident attorney who can assess your damages, disentangle thorny liability questions, and initiate negotiations with liable parties.
Qualified Uber Attorneys Nearby Are Ready To Help
When you get into a severe automobile accident, you can sustain injuries ranging from minor to mortal. The unfortunate reality is that both will end up charging you something. To make matters worse, there is a 2-year limit from the date of the accident within which your claim is eligible in a court of law.
That is why it is paramount to speak with an experienced rideshare attorney today. The legal team at LLN offers free consultations to assist victims of life-changing automobile accidents in understanding their rights and eligibility as they recuperate.
If you sustained injuries in a rideshare accident and want to know whether or not you can seek compensation from a policy provider in court or through informal negotiations, consider reaching out to our qualified Uber attorneys as soon as possible.