Uber is one of the most popular rideshare companies in the United States. The Uber app is installed on 21 percent of all Android devices. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 showed that 15 percent of Americans used Uber’s rideshare services and at least 50 percent of Americans that year knew about the services offered by Uber. It’s popularity has been soaring since because of the convenience of getting a ride at the touch of your cell phone screen and because of the fact that Uber rides are much cheaper than taxicabs.
However, it is important to remember that ridesharing is a relatively new industry whose regulations are still changing and evolving. Because of the complexities involved with liability issues accident claims involving Uber can become rather challenging. If you have been injured in an Uber accident in Philadelphia, you need an experienced car accident lawyer on your side who is familiar with changing laws, precedents set in recent cases, and has handled similar cases on behalf of injured clients and their families.
Understanding How Uber Works
Uber is a ridesharing service where customers have the ability to request a ride from nearby drivers using the company’s iPhone or Android app. The vehicle arrives within minutes and transports the passenger to his or her desired location. Uber has consistently maintained that it is not a transportation company. Rather, it bills itself as a “technology platform,” serving as the connective tissue between smart phone users and drivers through the app.
Uber has been growing at a feverish rate. But, a significant increase in Uber ridership has also caused an increase in the number of accidents and even criminal incidents such as sexual assaults involving Uber vehicles and drivers. These incidents have raised issues about background checks and liability issues that arise when passengers are injured.
Insurance and Uber Accidents
Uber says it requires all of its drivers to carry personal auto insurance. In addition, the company has a $1 million policy that covers Uber drivers’ liability. What this means is that when an Uber driver causes a car accident, the company’s insurer will pay out up to $1 million per accident for the victim’s injuries, damages and losses. Their policy will also compensate Uber passengers if the vehicle is involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
But Uber’s insurance will only kick in when you are on the app. And this is where it can get complicated. Uber’s insurance covers your car accident damages only when the driver has matched with a rider and is driving to pick up the rider or when the driver has a rider in the car. The insurance will not kick in if the driver is on the app, but hasn’t accepted a fare. Uber will cover a driver in such cases only if the driver does not have auto insurance or if the driver’s insurance company, for some reason, refuses to cover the accident.
What Steps Can You Take?
As with any auto accident, when you are involved in a car accident involving an Uber vehicle, it is important that you take a number of necessary steps to protect your legal rights:
- Remain at the scene and wait for the authorities to arrive. File a police report and be sure to obtain a copy of that report for your records.
- Get prompt medical attention and treatment for the injuries. If you have sustained injuries, do not decline emergency medical attention.
- Try to collect as much evidence as you can from the scene of the accident. This includes the Uber driver’s name, insurance information, vehicle license plate number and contact information. Try to get contact information for eyewitnesses who can help corroborate your account of the incident. If you are unable to obtain evidence from the scene of the crash, ask a family member or friend if they will do that for you.
- Save all receipts including doctor office visits, vehicle repair receipts, physical therapy invoices and evidence of other expenses you incurred as a result of the Uber accident.
- Contact an experienced Uber accident lawyer who can help fight for your rights every step of the way and help ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Do not talk to any insurance companies that contact you, and do not enter into a settlement before you have talked to your personal injury lawyer.
Complex Legal Issues
When you are dealing with an Uber accident claim, a number of complex legal issues might arise. Here are a few of those potential issues.
- Uber drivers may be employees or independent contractors. This is a potential gray area when it comes to legal liability. So, if a passenger is injured due to driver negligence, the company may be protected from legal actions because the driver is a contractor, not an employee. However, if it is determined that there is an employer-employee relationship, Uber could be held liable. It is important to have an attorney on your side who understands the intricacies of the law and when Uber can be held liable for driver negligence.
- There is no question that Uber has far less oversight when it comes to its drivers. While taxi companies are subject to stringent regulations and local laws, Uber is able to fly under the radar because it defines itself as a technology platform as opposed to a transportation company. Currently, there is no permanent ridesharing law that covers the entire state of Pennsylvania.
- It is also important to understand that most Uber drivers operate under their personal auto insurance policies unlike taxicab operators who are covered by the operators’ commercial insurance policies. Personal insurance companies may not cover a rideshare accident if the driver did not mention in the initial application for insurance that he or she is using it as a rideshare vehicle. As mentioned earlier, Uber’s $1 million policy could cover you if you can prove that the driver was working at the time.
- When you sign up for Uber, their user agreement (which most people may not read) states that they do not guarantee safety and that riders assume the risks associated with the services. The agreement also states that Uber is not liable for personal injuries resulting from the use of these services.
Regardless of these complex issues, if you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an Uber accident in Philadelphia, our car accident lawyers will help you seek and obtain fair and full compensation for all your losses. Call (610) 660-7780 to discuss your case today.