Ridesharing applications, such as Uber, are a common way of transportation in many major cities across the United States. In recent years, this emerging market has been a favorite for tourists and commuters to navigate their way around the city for work or simply for leisure. However, using an online rideshare application does not guarantee increased safety, and although it can be great to take advantage of its affordability and convenience, Uber drivers are just as susceptible to negligence as any other driver. Therefore, it is important to understand the risk and steps you should take if you are involved in an accident during your Uber ride.
In every accident that involves a vehicle crash, Plaintiff needs to be able to prove liability and damages. In Uber-related accidents, either the Uber driver caused the accident or he or she did not, nevertheless, here are your options:
The Uber driver caused the accident
If the Uber driver caused the accident, you may have a claim against him or her. In addition, you may be able to recover from Uber’s insurance company. In North Carolina, Uber’s commercial insurance policy of $1.5 million covers driver’s liability to riders for death, personal injury, and property damage caused by their drivers. This insurance coverage is applicable from the moment a driver accepts the ride, and it precedes over driver’s personal insurance coverage. However, the $1.5M coverage does not apply when the Uber driver is not en route and is just driving around looking for passengers. In that case, Uber’s insurance coverage drops down to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per two or more persons in any one accident. This covers bodily injuries and at least twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for the injury to or destruction of property of others.
Of course, however, if the Uber driver was not using the rideshare application, rather operating his or her vehicle privately, that individual would be at fault and their driver’s insurance will need to cover his or her damages, and not Uber’s insurance.
The Uber driver did not cause the accident
If the Uber driver did not cause the accident, you may have a claim against the other driver who did. Sometimes, however, those drivers do not carry adequate car insurance. In such a case, there still may be an opportunity to recover from Uber’s insurance. In north carolina, if another motorist causes the accident but does not have sufficient insurance coverage, Uber’s one (1) million Uninsured/Underinsured motorist insurance policy will cover bodily injury of anyone in the rideshare vehicle.
If you have been injured as a passenger during the Uber ride, you may be able to recover damages under the theory of negligence. Under a negligence theory, to prevail the Plaintiff needs to prove that the Uber driver had a legal duty to protect you from foreseeable harm, that the Uber driver breached that duty, and the Uber driver’s breach of duty was a proximate cause of the accident that lead to your injuries.
A negligence claim is not the same as an insurance claim, it is a personal injury lawsuit. Generally, Uber drivers are not employees, they are independent contractors which means that they don’t have as many rights as employees. Thus, since Uber drivers are independent contractors, you likely will not have a claim against Uber, as an employer, since independent contractors are technically their own boss and a company is unlikely to be responsible for the negligence that is not of its employees.
However, you may have a claim against Uber if they contributed to your accident; more specifically, if Uber hired a driver with the extensive driving record you may have a claim for negligent hiring. For example, North Carolina law states that the transportation network company (TNC), such as Uber, must not permit an individual to act as a TNC driver if an individual had more than three moving violations in the prior three-year period or one major moving violation in the prior three-year period, including attempting to evade the police, reckless driving, or driving on a suspended or revoked license. That is only one limitation, North Carolina law also states that a driver cannot be a match in the National Sex Offender Registry, has to possess a valid driver’s license, has to be at least 19 years of age, and cannot be convicted within the past seven years of driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol, fraud, sexual offenses and other specific offenses.
If you have been injured in an Uber-related accident you may be able to recover damages for the following:
- Emergency room treatment;
- Past and future medical bills, including medications and any rehab treatments required;
- Disability benefits (if applicable);
- Past and future pain and suffering;
- Loss of future income due to disability and permanent diminished capacity;
- Lost wages, income and/or property damage;
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Mental anguish;
- Wrongful death damages in a fatal vehicle accident;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Punitive damages (if applicable).
If you were a victim of the accident of this type, there are some steps you should take in order to maximize your potential recovery. First, you should seek medical attention immediately after the accident. In addition, you should call the police that will create a report of the accident which will potentially be used by the insurance companies when it comes to settling the claim. Furthermore, you should collect the information of people involved in an accident, and any other information that may be useful in pursuing a potential claim, such as vehicle information, names and contact information of any witnesses, driver, and people involved in an accident. You should also report the accident to Uber right away in order to receive the insurance coverage from Uber. Following the accident, you should seek non-emergency medical attention since not all injuries are visible immediately. Some of the injuries may develop later on, thus it is important that you see a physician within one day of the accident in order to address all your medical needs. Lastly, you want to contact the experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible who will handle your claim effectively. Insurance companies will attempt to minimize your claim and have you recover as little as possible. In addition, the amount of work and meeting all the deadlines and procedural requirements may be overwhelming, as well as keeping track of all of the medical bills related to the accident. While not impossible to file a claim without an attorney, you want to know your case is in good hands. If you or a loved one have been injured in a rideshare accident that involves Uber in North Carolina, contact the experienced attorneys at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC, who will help protect your rights and to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for specific advice regarding your claim. The initial consultation is free.