By Marcus Fernandez
There is little doubt that Uber revolutionized transportation when it introduced its ridesharing application in 2010. According to the company, riders completed 62 million trips with the car service in just one month during 2016. The service’s lower cost and convenience of using an app on a mobile device to bring a vehicle to your exact location make it a popular alternative to a taxis, limousine or car service, but a passenger injured in an Uber accident might soon discover how getting the compensation needed to be made whole can be complicated by the way Uber is set up.
Ride-Sharing: Making some money with the family car
After downloading Uber and using it for the first time, you might be surprised by who and what shows up. The concept behind Uber and other ride-hailing companies, the terminology now used in place of “ride-sharing,” is the creation of a network through which prospective passengers in need of a ride and drivers with vehicles can be matched. This means the driver could be someone driving the family sedan in an effort to earn a few extra dollars.
Many ride-hailing drivers, particularly in metropolitan areas, are professionals using the Uber app as their full-time business. There are also people signing on as drivers on a part-time basis to supplement their primary sources of income. It is the use of their personal vehicles, as opposed to driving a vehicle provided by a company for whom they are employed, that can create legal issues when a passenger is injured in an Uber accident that is the fault of the driver.
Unlike traditional car services and taxis, Uber does not employ the drivers or provide them with vehicles. The company gives passengers and drivers access to its application that directs a driver to a passenger. The payment is processed at the end of the ride. Uber receives a percentage of the fare from the driver as its compensation for use of the application. Drivers are expected to provide their own insurance coverage for the vehicles they drive to pick up passengers.
Negligence and passenger compensation in an Uber accident
A passenger injured in an Uber accident could have a claim for damages against the driver of the vehicle in which he or she was riding and other drivers whose vehicles were involved in the accident. Drivers are held to a certain standard of reasonable care when they operate a motor vehicle. Those who fail to live up to the standard of reasonable care could be acting in a negligent manner for which an injured party could be entitled to compensation, including damages for pain and suffering. Negligent conduct on the part of a driver could include any of the following acts:
- Driving in excess of posted speed limits
- Operating a vehicle at speeds that are excessive for the weather or road conditions
- Distracted driving, such as when a driver is texting while driving or talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device
- Failing to obey the motor vehicle laws of the state
If an Uber passenger is injured when the car or SUV in which the person is riding is struck by another vehicle, the injured party could have a claim against both drivers. Florida law allows a person injured in an Uber accident to sue any or all of the negligent drivers involved in the collision.
Public criticism of inadequate insurance coverage on drivers’ personal vehicles when Uber first began operations caused the company to add its own $1 million liability policy to supplement the coverage the driver carries on the vehicle. Before you can file a claim against the policy, there are some things you must do to protect your rights.
Steps to take if injured in an Uber accident
An Uber accident is no different than other types of motor vehicle accidents as far as the steps you must take to protect your claim for compensation. Included among the things you should do are the following:
- Obtain the names, addresses and other contact information of all drivers and passengers in the vehicles involved in the accident.
- Get the name, address and policy number of the insurance company providing coverage on each of the vehicles.
- If there are any witnesses to the accident, obtain their names and contact information.
- Use your mobile device to take pictures of the accident scene and the conditions of each of the vehicles.
- Obtain the name, department and badge number of any police officers responding to the accident. If it is available, ask the officers for a copy of any accident report they prepare.
One of the most important things to do when injured in an Uber accident is to go to a doctor. This must be done within 14 days of the accident to have your injuries evaluated. Failure to seek immediate treatment or be evaluated jeopardizes your right to compensation.
Filing a claim under the Florida no-fault laws
Florida law provides for compensation for medical treatment, lost earnings and other expenses incurred by victims suffering injuries in motor vehicle accidents under its no-fault laws. If you are injured in an Uber accident, you might need to file a claim with your own automobile insurance policy. This can depend upon the severity of your injuries.
You could have the right to seek compensation through a lawsuit against the Uber driver of the vehicle in which you were a passenger, Uber and the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident. If you are injured in an Uber accident, the best course of action is consulting with a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys give knowledgeable advice about how your claim should be handled. There experience and representation obtain the compensation you deserve.