Can You File a Lawsuit Against Uber for An Accident?

Uber Accident Lawsuit

The short answer to the title question is yes. You can file a lawsuit against Uber if you sustain injuries in an accident involving an Uber driver. This applies if you were a passenger in an Uber car at the time of the accident or a pedestrian, motorcyclist or bicyclist hit by an Uber driver.

However, the challenge of such suits is the way Uber insurance works. While Uber likes to brag about its $1 million coverage, this amount is seldom available in an Uber accident lawsuit. Everything depends on the precise circumstances surrounding the accident. Consequently, you need the advice and counsel of an experienced local accident attorney to help you with your Uber injury claim.

Uber Accident Liability Coverage

Uber makes what it calls its “driver-partner” insurance available to its drivers, but each driver must purchase this insurance. Not all drivers do. Even if your driver purchased one of these policies, the Uber insurance only supplements the driver’s own auto insurance. In other words, your driver’s personal or commercial insurance policy is the primary source of compensation for your injuries.

Be aware that some states require Uber drivers to have both a commercial driver’s license and a commercial insurance policy that covers them when they have a passenger in the car. Other states, however, do not have these requirements. If you live in one of these states, your driver may have only a personal auto liability policy. Most of these policies exclude coverage in “ride for hire” situations.

The amount of Uber’s “driver-partner” insurance available depends on the driver’s status at the time of the accident.

The three categories and their respective Uber coverages are as follows:

  1. The driver was “off the clock” with Uber app turned off: no Uber insurance coverage
  2. Driver “on the clock” with Uber app turned on but between fares: Uber supplemental liability insurance coverage of $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, $25,000 property damage
  3. Driver “on the clock” with Uber app turned on and a passenger on board: Uber supplemental liability insurance coverage of $1 million and property damage coverage of $1 million possibly available

The bottom line is that Uber’s full insurance amount becomes available only when all five of the following conditions exist:

  1. Your driver has an Uber “driver-partner insurance” auto insurance policy.
  2. He or she likewise has a commercial auto insurance policy.
  3. S/he was “on the clock,” i.e., carrying you as a passenger for hire with the app turned on, at the time of the accident.
  4. S/he was the at-fault driver in the accident.
  5. His or her own policy has already covered your injuries up to its limit.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uber’s “driver-partner insurance” also includes uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. But again, this coverage only applies if all five of the following conditions are met:

  1. Your driver has an Uber “driver-partner insurance” auto insurance policy.
  2. He or she likewise has a commercial auto insurance policy.
  3. He or she was “on the clock,” i.e., carrying you as a passenger for hire, at the time of the accident.
  4. The other driver was the at-fault driver in the accident.
  5. The other driver was uninsured or underinsured.

Alternatively, Uber’s supplemental uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage comes into play if the first four conditions listed above are met and the at-fault driver’s identity cannot be determined. Generally, this only happens if the other driver commits a hit-and-run accident.

Uber Drivers’ Background Checks

Despite Uber’s confusing coverage requirements that effectively shields it from many accident injury lawsuits, the company does care about the safety of passengers using its services. To that end, Uber runs a background check on each person who applies to become an Uber independent contractor driver.

Contracting with a third-party background checking company, Uber requires that the following records be checked for each prospective driver:

  • County courthouse records
  • Federal courthouse records
  • Department of Motor Vehicle records
  • Social Security Administration records
  • National Sex Offender Registry
  • Multi-state criminal database

A prospective driver’s criminal background check must reveal no convictions for violent crimes, sexual offenses or most felonies. Sometimes, however, a prospective driver can have a non-violent felony conviction on his or her record and still be accepted as a Uber driver.

In addition, Uber’s background check looks at criminal actions pending against a prospective driver. If it finds a pending charge any of the prohibited crimes, it will not accept the prospective driver unless and until the charges ultimately resolve in his or her favor.

As for a prospective driver’s driving record, Uber requires the following:

  • No DUI or reckless driving convictions
  • No convictions for driving 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit
  • There are no convictions for other serious driving offenses. This includes, a hit-and-run, fleeing a law enforcement officer, using a vehicle to commit a felony, driving on a suspended license, etc.
  • No more than three “minor” traffic convictions. For example: disobeying a traffic light or sign, failing to yield, improperly passing, making an illegal U-turn, driving with expired license tags, etc.

Generally, Uber requires the prospective driver’s driving record to be checked for the past seven years to discover any of the above convictions.

Uber repeats the background check each year.

Why You Need an Experienced Local Lawyer for an Uber Accident Lawsuit

Uber’s insurance coverage amounts available to its drivers are confusing and limited. Therefore, filing and pursuing an accident lawsuit against Uber can be a daunting proposition. That is why you need the advice, counsel and representation of a local personal injury lawyer experienced in handling Uber insurance claims.

Why a local lawyer? Each state has its own time periods, called statutes of limitations, during which you must file your suit. Generally, these periods range from one to three years after the date of your accident. However, your local attorney will know the precise statute of limitations applicable to your injuries in your state.

They will also know how to determine whether to sue only the Uber driver or the driver plus the company itself. Finally, he or she can help calculate what damages you should claim based on the seriousness of your injuries, the pain and suffering you have experienced, how much time you have lost from work and other factors.

Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer

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