Millions of Americans use the Uber app to hail rides or as a means of earning income. Uber is the most popular ride-sharing app and had a market value of $72 billion as of May 2018. As Uber has become ubiquitous in modern society, some Uber drivers have been involved in accidents. At the Lamber Goodnow team, we represent people who have been injured in Uber car accidents and often field many questions. To help you understand the rights that you might have following a rideshare accident, we have gathered some of the most frequently asked questions that we have received below.
FAQs: Uber car accident claims
Q: What should I do if I am involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft?
A: If you are involved in an Uber or rideshare accident, the steps that you should take are similar to the steps that you would take after any other motor vehicle accident. If you are an Uber driver whose vehicle was struck by someone else, start by checking yourself, your passengers, and the others who were involved for injuries. Call 911 to report the accident and summon help. While you are waiting for the police to arrive, exchange information with the other driver, and get the names and contact information of everyone who was involved as well as any witnesses. Photograph the accident scene and the damage to both vehicles. Tell the police what happened leading up to the accident. You should seek medical attention to check for any injuries and follow the recommendations of your doctor. If you were injured in an accident that was the fault of the other driver, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer.
If you were a passenger in an Uber accident, you should follow similar steps. You should make sure to get the contact and insurance information from both your Uber driver and the other motorist in addition to calling 911, providing first aid, getting names and contact information of witnesses, and taking photographs. Similarly, if you were the driver of a different vehicle that was struck by an Uber, get the Uber driver’s information and try to figure out which phase of the app the driver was in at the time of the accident.
Q: Are Uber drivers required to have insurance in Arizona?
A: Under A.R.S. § 28-4038, rideshare drivers are required to carry insurance. Transportation network companies are required to verify that their drivers are insured under A.R.S. § 28-9555. Under these laws, Uber drivers must carry insurance that meets the state’s minimum liability requirements during times when they are driving their vehicles for personal use. These limits include $15,000 bodily injury coverage for one person, $30,000 for two or more people, and $10,000 in property damage coverage.
In addition to the above, Uber’s supplemental liability coverage depends on the phase in which a driver was operating. Uber divides the operation of a vehicle by an Uber driver while the app is turned on into three phases. Which phase a driver is in is important in determining the supplemental coverage that might be available from Uber’s liability insurance. No coverage will be provided by Uber when the app is turned off, however.
Phase one is when the driver has the app turned on but has not received a request for a ride. During this phase, Uber offers supplemental liability coverage with the following coverage limits:
- $50,000 bodily injury for one person
- $100,000 bodily injury for two or more people
- $25,000 in property damage
Phase two is when the Uber driver is actively going to pick up a person who has hailed a ride, and phase three occurs when the Uber driver is actively transporting a passenger. During these two phases, Uber’s supplemental liability coverage provides $1 million of bodily injury coverage, uninsured motorists coverage of at least $250,000 under Arizona law, and comprehensive and collision coverage up to the actual value of the driver’s vehicle as long as the driver also had comprehensive and collision insurance for periods when he or she is not using the app.
Q: What if an Uber driver does not have a rideshare endorsement on his or her insurance?
A: If a driver only has the minimum liability insurance coverage that is required in Arizona but has not purchased additional coverage or an endorsement to allow him or her to use his or her vehicle for ridesharing purposes, it can be problematic. Most insurance companies exclude coverage for drivers that use their vehicles for commercial purposes unless they have purchased additional insurance or an endorsement on their policies. It is important to note that Uber’s liability insurance is supplemental. It will not kick in until an at-fault driver’s policy limits have been exhausted. In this situation, accident victims will want to consult with personal injury lawyers to identify potential sources of recovery.
Q: What if another motorist is at fault for the accident?
A: If you are an Uber driver or passenger who is injured in an accident that was another motorist’s fault, you will need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The at-fault motorist’s insurance company should pay for the damages that result from the accident. However, many drivers fail to carry the required insurance, and the state’s minimum liability limits are low. In this situation, Uber provides uninsured/underinsured motorists insurance to offer coverage of a minimum of $250,000 under Arizona law. After the at-fault driver’s insurance limits have been exhausted, Uber’s UM/UIM coverage should cover the remainder of your losses up to $250,000.
Q: Can I hold Uber directly liable for an accident caused by one of its drivers?
A: Uber and other rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees. This means that the rideshare companies are not liable for the negligent actions of their drivers as their employers. Instead, you would file a lawsuit against the driver and his or her insurance company. If the coverage amounts are insufficient to pay for your damages, you would file a claim against Uber’s supplemental liability coverage if it is available.
Some exceptions might be available in some circumstances, however. For example, if Uber negligently failed to perform adequate background checks on the driver or continued to retain him or her despite the driver’s poor driving history, you might have grounds to file a lawsuit against Uber. An attorney at Lamber Goodnow or one of our co-counsel firms can review the facts of what occurred and identify all of the potential sources of recovery.
Q: As a passenger in an Uber accident who was injured, who can I sue?
A: If you are a passenger in an accident while you were riding in an Uber, you may have grounds to file claims against both the Uber driver and the other motorist. Under A.R.S. § 12-2501, when two or more tortfeasors contribute to an accident, you have the right to recover damages from each of them. However, each party will be liable for the percentage of fault that is attributed to him or her. For example, if the Uber driver was 75% at fault, and the other motorist was 25% at fault, the Uber driver will be responsible for paying 75% of your damages. The other motorist will be responsible for paying 25% of your damages. If you fail to name all of the responsible parties in your lawsuit, you will not be able to recover the percentage of fault that is attributed to the party that you failed to name. This makes the determination of fault important following any type of car accident important, including accidents involving Uber drivers.
In some situations, other parties beyond the Uber driver and the other motorist might also share some of the fault. For example, if the accident and your injuries were partially caused by a defective component in either vehicle, you may have grounds to file a claim against the part’s manufacturer or designer. Similarly, if the accident was partially caused by poorly maintained roads, you might have grounds to file a claim against the entity that was responsible for maintaining the roads. Your lawyer can help to identify all of the potentially liable parties to help you to recover the compensation to which you should be entitled.
Q: How much is my Uber accident claim worth?
A: The value of claims varies from case to case and depends on multiple factors. The value of your claim will depend on the facts and circumstances of what occurred, the extent and severity of your injuries, your likelihood of fully recovering, and your noneconomic losses. Your claim’s value might also be limited by the available sources of recovery. Experienced personal injury lawyers analyze the facts and circumstances of a case and work closely with economic and medical experts to calculate the values of potential claims.
Your attorney might present you with the settlement and trial values of your claim. The settlement value is what you might expect to receive in a fair settlement offer. The trial value will be what you might expect to recover if you win your lawsuit at trial. However, there are always risks involved with taking an injury case to trial, so your lawyer will likely calculate the percentage chance of winning at trial. Generally speaking, your settlement value will be slightly more than the percentage chance that you have of winning your claim at trial while the trial value will be higher.
Q: What types of damages might be available in an Uber accident claim?
A: Damages in an Uber accident are monetary amounts that might be awarded to the victim. The types of compensatory damages include general damages and special damages. Special damages are monetary awards that are meant to compensate you for your pecuniary losses and include such things as your past and future medical costs, your past and future lost wages, and your property losses. General damages are meant to compensate you for your noneconomic losses and are more difficult to calculate. These include compensation for things like your pain and suffering, emotional trauma, disfigurement, disability, and others.
In rare cases, punitive damages might be available. These damages are not meant to compensate you but are instead meant to punish the defendant. They are only awarded in situations in which the conduct of the defendants was particularly outrageous. When they are awarded, punitive damages are given above the compensatory damages that are awarded.
Q: Do I need to hire an attorney for my Uber accident claim?
A: You are not required to hire a lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit after an Uber accident. However, these claims can be complex and might involve multiple parties and complicated liability issues. If you represent yourself, you will be expected to have the same level of understanding held by the attorneys who are defending against your lawsuit. It is advisable to hire an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and help you to assert all of the claims that are available to you.
If you have been injured in an Uber or another rideshare accident, you should consult with an experienced lawyer at Lamber Goodnow or one of our co-counsel firms. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about the rights that you might have.