Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized transportation in San Francisco and Marin County. Instead of waiting for a taxi, riders can request front-door service and pay a reasonable fee. Ridesharing services have also allowed thousands of people to make extra money with their cars.
However, the rise of Uber and other ridesharing companies has complicated a passenger’s rights in the event of a crash. Usually, when a passenger is injured in a taxi collision, he or she files a lawsuit against the taxi cab company. Under California law, employers are responsible for injuries their employees accidentally cause.
Unfortunately, Uber drivers are not company employees. Instead, they are independent contractors, and corporations are not responsible for the accidents caused by independent contractors. This state of affairs means that large corporations like Uber and Lyft can shield themselves from liability when their drivers cause collisions.
Happily, you should be covered if you are injured in an Uber accident. Read on for more information about how to make Uber accident claims.
Who Pays My Medical Bills if I Was Injured as an Uber Passenger?
You need to identify who is at fault for the accident. If the Uber driver is at fault, then you make a claim with their insurance company. However, if another motorist struck the Uber while you were a passenger, then you make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Uber insurance claims are complicated because most rideshare drivers do not carry adequate insurance. For one thing, the driver’s regular car insurance policy probably has a business exclusion, meaning the policy doesn’t cover accidents that occurred while the vehicle was being used for a business purpose. Individual Uber drivers could get their own business insurance policy, but many don’t.
However, Uber and Lyft both carry a $1 million insurance policy for every driver. This means you will always be covered up to that amount if an Uber or Lyft driver causes an accident.
What if an Uber Hit Me?
You might not have been a passenger in the Uber or Lyft at the time of the crash. Instead, you might have been rear-ended by the driver or been injured as a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist. In these situations, you can still sue the Uber driver and get covered under the rideshare company’s insurance policy.
If the Uber driver has no passenger at the time of the accident, you will still sue the driver. California law requires that drivers with ridesharing companies carry $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in liability insurance, along with $30,000 in property damage. The rideshare company also carries $200,000 in excess coverage. This insurance applies so long as the driver is logged into the app and looking for a ride request. When the driver accepts a ride and is en route to pick them up, the $1 million insurance then kicks in.
If the Uber driver is not logged in when they hit you, then they are no different than a regular driver on the road. You will make an insurance claim with the driver’s insurer if they were at fault for the accident. The insurer should cover the crash since the driver is not logged into Uber at that moment and is therefore not using their vehicle for a business purpose.
Here are the rules in simplified format:
● The Uber driver is not logged into the app: the driver is not covered by Uber’s insurance policy but uses its own.
● The Uber driver is logged into the app and looking for rides: the driver is covered to the tune of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident in bodily injury liability. Uber’s excess coverage ($200,000) also applies.
● The Uber driver has accepted a ride and is on the way to pick up the rider: Uber’s $1 million policy applies.
● The Uber driver has the passenger in the car: Uber’s $1 million policy applies.
How Do I Collect Evidence for My Claim?
After Uber driver accidents, you should immediately take the following steps to preserve your right to compensation:
● Call the police. An officer can come out to the scene of the accident and take down information for a police report. This is an important piece of evidence to have when making Uber accident claims.
● Take pictures of the cars involved in the crash, if you can. Try to get the point of impact. Use your smartphone or ask someone else to take pictures.
● Obtain the driver’s name if you do not already have it.
● Get insurance information from the driver. Take down the name and address of the insurance company.
● Identify witnesses to the wreck. Get their names and contact information. When making Uber accident claims, having third-party witnesses is very helpful.
You also need to document your injuries. Go to the doctor as soon as you can and remember to hold onto copies of all medical bills and any receipts for medical equipment or prescription drugs. You can typically receive 100% reimbursement for any money you spent in your Uber accident settlement.
How Do I File an Uber Accident Lawsuit?
The party you sue will again depend on who is at fault for the accident. In accidents where the Uber driver is at fault, you will sue the driver and send a copy of the lawsuit to the insurance company that will be defending the lawsuit. You do not sue Uber or Lyft directly.
If another motorist caused the crash, you sue them directly. What happens, however, if this driver is uninsured or if they do not have enough insurance to cover all of your expenses? Helpfully, both Uber and Lyft have $1 million uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that will kick in to compensate you for your injuries. This policy kicks in even if the Uber driver did not do anything wrong to cause the crash.
The nuts-and-bolts of filing a lawsuit can be difficult for the average person to learn, so this is where an experienced San Francisco Uber accident attorney comes in. At Wakeford Gelini, we can handle all the court documents and make sure they are filed correctly and served on the correct parties. Let us do the heavy lifting.
How Much Can I Expect in a Settlement?
The amount our clients receive in Uber accident claims vary depending on a variety of circumstances. Instead of discussing an “average” settlement, it is more helpful to carefully analyze the different factors that will go into determining how much you can receive.
Typically, you can receive full compensation for your economic losses, called “special damages.” These include things like:
● Medical bills, including rehabilitation, surgery, doctor’s visits, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, equipment, and devices (like wheelchairs)
● Lost wages if you were not able to return to work while recovering
● Property damage, such as damage to your car if an Uber driver struck you
If your injuries were catastrophic, you might need continuing medical care or be unable to return to work in the future. In these unfortunate situations, injured victims can receive compensation for future losses, though you probably need an expert to help you estimate the amount.
California also allows injured victims to receive compensation for non-economic harms in the form of “general damages.” Non-economic injuries are often every bit as serious and deserving as compensation. However, they are harder to calculate because you do not have a bill or a receipt.
At Wakeford Gelini, our clients have received additional compensation for:
● Pain and suffering
● Mental anguish
● Loss of consortium for negative changes to the marital relationship
Our Uber accident attorneys in Marin County are skilled at increasing the amount of your Uber accident settlement by documenting the severity of your non-economic injuries.
What Else Should I Know?
Serious injuries are worth a lot of money—to you and to Uber. Although rideshare companies have insurance, their premiums increase every time someone files a claim. For that reason, both Uber and their insurers have an incentive to deny claims.
One of the biggest mistakes our clients make is talking to Uber or their insurer and giving a recorded statement soon after the crash. Often, your statements can be used against you, and you might be making statements while in a lot of pain and not thinking clearly. Some of our clients undercut their claim to compensation by saying something they shouldn’t in the immediate aftermath of a crash. For that reason, it is vitally important that you reach out to an Uber accident attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Injured in an Uber Accident? Contact Wakeford Gelini for Help with Uber Accident Claims
Each year more Uber and Lyft drivers take to the road, and the number of accidents increase. At Wakeford Gelini, we have decades of experience helping injured motorists receive the compensation they need so that they can get back on their feet. Our car accident attorneys in Marin County know how to sue Uber and Lyft, and we are prepared to use our experience on your behalf.
To start the process, please reach out to us today. You have a limited amount of time to sue after an accident, so don’t delay. Please call or submit an online contact form.