Injured in an Uber Accident – Who Is Liable?
If you were injured in an Uber accident, the Uber driver, Uber, or a third party could be liable for the damages. Liability can be difficult to sort out after a car accident, especially when it involves a rideshare vehicle like an Uber car.
Transportation network companies (TNCs) hire drivers under contract and not as employees. This structure makes it complicated to pinpoint who to go after in a case for damages because the Uber driver and the TNC may be acting as separate entities, depending on when the accident occurs. Throw in a third-party vehicle, and you have a web to untangle. Reach out to a Uber/Lyft accident lawyer.
Who Can I Hold Liable After an Uber Accident?
If you were injured in an Uber car accident, the liable party would depend on who caused the crash, first and foremost. As with any car accident, the at-fault party bears the responsibility to pay for any damages that victims of the crash experience.
However, if that person has liability car insurance, they may not have to pay out of pocket. The auto insurance company would foot the bill. If the liability rests with a third-party company or entity that caused the accident, there is usually liability insurance in place to cover injury claims.
Potentially liable parties for an Uber accident may include:
- The Uber driver – If the Uber driver caused the accident, they bear liability for damages that you suffered. The driver may have their own insurance to cover your losses, or they may be personally responsible for paying.
- Uber – Even if the Uber driver is at fault for the crash, Uber may still be liable for the accident. The laws in most states require the ridesharing company to maintain liability insurance to cover accidents its drivers cause while on duty (more on this topic later). Additionally, Uber may bear direct responsibility for causing the accident if the company was negligent in performing its duties.
- Third-party driver – If a third-party driver caused or contributed to the Uber accident, they may be liable for the damages you suffered.
- Car manufacturers – The vehicle manufacturers could be to blame if there was an equipment failure or defect that contributed to the Uber accident.
- Tire manufacturers – Sometimes, a tire company could bear financial responsibility for the accident when defective tires contribute to the crash.
- Local government – Local governments must maintain roads, traffic signs and signals, and sometimes construction work in the area. If the government failed to do so, contributing to your accident, you may have grounds to pursue a claim against it.
What Happens if the Uber Driver Causes My Accident?
If the Uber driver caused the crash, you may either file an insurance claim or a lawsuit to recover compensation. TNC laws in each state require Uber drivers to have car insurance to cover any accidents that they cause while working. This is necessary because most personal auto insurance policies do not cover rideshare crashes, which are considered commercial vehicle accidents.
Drivers may pay for rideshare auto insurance to meet the TNC insurance requirement. If they do, you could file a claim against their rideshare insurance policy. However, if the Uber driver does not maintain this rideshare insurance, the law still requires the transportation network company (Uber) to provide this insurance in case of accidents.
In that event, you would file a claim with the Uber insurance company. If the driver has insufficient rideshare insurance to cover your damages, you may recover additional compensation from the Uber liability policy. As a caveat, you should be aware that Uber’s insurance coverage depends on the status of the driver at the time the wreck occurred.
The Uber Driver Is Off Duty
When Uber drivers are not logged into the app, they are considered to be off-duty. This could be when the driver is running personal errands or having a lunch break, for instance. The driver’s personal car insurance covers any accidents that occur during this off-duty period. This is the state-required insurance that all drivers must carry.
The Uber Driver Is Logged Into the App and Waiting for Rides
After an Uber driver logs into the app, they are officially on duty.
During this time, while they are waiting for users to request rides but have not yet accepted any, the driver is covered under Uber’s insurance policy for the amount of:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death for one person
- $100,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
If the driver caused any Uber accidents during this time, the victims may file a claim against the Uber liability policy and recover compensation at the above limits.
The Uber Driver Is Carrying a Passenger or Traveling to Pick Up a Passenger
After a driver accepts a ride request, Uber’s $1,000,000 liability insurance policy kicks in to cover bodily injury, death, and property damage from any accidents the driver causes. During this time, the driver may be en route to pick up a passenger or transporting a passenger to their destination.
The policy increases due to the increased risk of driving while carrying or heading to a passenger. At this stage, Uber may also offer first-party insurance and/or uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, depending on your state’s requirements.
Is It Possible to Sue Uber Directly for My Car Accident?
You cannot sue Uber for your car accident unless the company was directly responsible for causing or contributing to the crash. Typically, employers are responsible for the actions of their employees through the concept of vicarious liability. If someone gets hurt due to the employee’s negligence while on the job, that person could sue the employer, who would pay the damages.
However, Uber drivers are not employees. They are independent contractors. They choose their own hours and select the jobs they want to take. As such, their negligent actions are not generally Uber’s responsibility, which means you cannot sue Uber for the Uber driver’s actions.
The exception to this rule is if the rideshare company itself was negligent, and its negligence led to the Uber driver causing the crash that injured you.
Suing Uber for Negligence
Uber must properly vet each driver it hires. The TNC must also ensure the driver’s vehicles meet safety and standard requirements. A failure to do so would constitute negligence in the eyes of the law.
You could file a lawsuit against Uber for:
Uber must perform background checks on each potential driver’s criminal record and driving history. The company must search for traffic violations, criminal convictions, and car accidents to determine whether the driver is fit to work.
If Uber fails to perform these checks or performs them but hires a driver with a bad record anyway, then you could sue the company for negligent hiring if the driver injures you in an accident. The car accident is directly related to the TNC’s actions to hire someone who had a questionable past. If Uber had not hired the driver, the accident might have been avoided.
Let’s say Uber performed its due diligence, and the driver was cleared to drive. Down the line, the driver began to receive multiple complaints from passengers that his car smelled of alcohol. The driver was cited and pulled over for a blood alcohol concentration of .04. Later, that driver crashed into you and injured you.
You could sue Uber for negligent retention. Uber must perform annual checks on their drivers, and its policy states that it regularly checks driver records in the DMV database. Therefore, unfit drivers should not slip through the cracks.
The company allowed the driver to continue to transport passengers despite the fact that he had complaints against him and traffic citations for driving intoxicated. If the driver was a danger, Uber should have terminated his contract. If it had, the accident might not have occurred.
A number of other things could constitute general negligence on Uber’s part. If Uber failed to ensure the driver’s vehicle met safety standards by enforcing car inspections and the car malfunctioned, leading to a crash, the TNC would be negligent.
While you wouldn’t sue Uber in most cases, you could file a lawsuit for your compensation against the Uber driver, a third-party driver, or a third-party company or entity responsible for causing the crash.
Recovering Compensation After an Uber Car Accident
By law, car accident victims can recover damages for economic and non-economic losses. If the Uber accident caused you to incur financial expenses, such as medical bills or lost income from missing work, the liable party must pay you for those losses. If your injuries resulted in disability or emotional trauma, the liable party must pay you an amount proportional to those intangible losses as well.
You could recover compensation for:
- Medical treatment expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Reduced earning capacity
- Physical trauma
- Scars and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages if someone lost their life in the crash
Punitive Damages for an Uber Accident
Victims in rideshare car accidents may also seek punitive damages in cases where the at-fault driver acted recklessly, exhibiting gross negligence. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer and make an example of them to deter similar egregious actions in the future.
The court often awards these exemplary damages in drunk driving accidents and hit-and-runs where the driver’s actions displayed a complete disregard for the lives and safety of others.
Do I Need an Uber Accident Lawyer?
Rideshare accidents are complex because of liability. To receive compensation, you’ll need to determine who caused the crash and who is liable to pay for damages. Do you go after the Uber driver, Uber, the other vehicle in the crash, or some third-party entity?
It may be difficult to sort this issue out on your own, especially if you were seriously injured. You may not have the time, physical capability, or finances to take on the task of filing a claim, gathering proof of fault and your losses, and potentially fighting a legal battle to get the money you deserve.
On the other hand, an Uber accident lawyer is equipped with the financial resources, legal knowledge, and network of support staff, investigators, and experts to build your claim for compensation.
How an Uber Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Your attorney will focus on taking care of your case while you focus on your recovery.
Personal injury lawyers handle:
- Investigating the Uber accident
- Identifying liable parties
- Managing communications with the liable insurance company, police, doctors, and witnesses
- Gathering proof of your financial and non-financial losses
- Filing your claim for compensation
- Negotiating a fair settlement to cover your losses
- Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party if necessary
- Representing your interests at trial
Retaining an Uber Accident Lawyer for No Cost Upfront
Personal injury lawyers typically do not charge up front for their legal services. Instead, they receive payment only when they win your case. A case victory can occur through a settlement or a court verdict. Without any upfront or out-of-pocket expenses for your case, you can hire a lawyer to help you figure out who is liable if you were injured in an Uber accident and start your claim right away. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.