App-based rideshare services like Uber are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason: Using your smartphone to virtually hail an Uber ride is fast, easy and often less expensive than flagging down a cab.
Uber touts its safety measures, but accidents will happen regardless of who’s doing the driving. For passengers, it’s important to understand who’s liable and how you’ll be compensated if you’re injured in an accident involving an Uber driver.
Your Driver’s Insurer May Deny Your Claim
Uber provides liability insurance for drivers in addition to what drivers carry for themselves. That extra coverage is needed, since drivers’ personal insurance policies often will deny claims when the driver was providing ridesharing service; driver policies typically are personal and not commercial. Personal insurance policies normally do not provide coverage if a driver was engaged in driving for pay.
However, as a passenger, you should receive compensation for your injuries and related expenses under the liability policies that Uber provides to drivers.
In addition, Uber provides insurance to drivers that covers passengers who are hurt in a crash with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. In theory, you’re protected if your Uber car is hit by someone who does not have insurance at all or who does not carry sufficient insurance to compensate you for harm from an accident.
How Does Uber Compare to Taxis?
Regulations vary around the country, but many states — including Florida — require minimum injury coverage for taxis. In Florida, cab companies must carry insurance of $125,000 per individual and $250,000 per accident.
If you suffer injuries due to a cab driver’s negligence in the state, it’s likely that the driver has $125,000 in coverage that can compensate you for your medical care and other expenses related to your injuries. If you and a loved one both are injured, coverage would be $250,000 for both of you. However, good luck in tracking down the right carrier for a taxi company. The companies that insure the taxi companies are sub standard carriers that look to deny claims.
Typically, cab companies do not carry more than the required minimum amount of insurance. Alternatively, Uber drivers have more liability coverage and with a much better insurance company. Uber purchases $1,000,000.00 for each driver, and Uber also has an excess insurance policy.
States also differ in requirements for cab companies to carry insurance policies covering accidents involving uninsured and underinsured motorists. Florida does not have a requirement for uninsured motorist coverage that applies to passengers of a cab.
If you’re riding in a cab and you’re injured in a crash with an uninsured driver — and that driver is at fault in the accident — you would not be covered unless you carry your own, personal uninsured motorist policy. If you were injured in the same manner while riding in an Uber vehicle, an additional $1 million in insurance would be available to cover the harm done to you.
Uber May Resist Compensating You
The fact that Uber carries excess liability coverage for its drivers does not mean, however, that getting compensation for your injuries is easy. In 2014, an Uber driver struck and killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco. Uber attempted to deny responsibility, arguing that the driver was not logged into the company’s app at the time of the accident.
To make the tragedy even worse, the driver already had been convicted of reckless driving, which Uber either did not know about or did not use to disqualify the man as an Uber driver. The little girl’s family is suing Uber for wrongful death.
Remember, Uber and its insurers are businesses, and getting compensation if you’re injured in a wreck caused by an Uber driver may not be easy. The company is likely to take significant steps to fight your claim.
In fact, the company has used its drivers’ classification as independent contractors — rather than employees — to fight hard to avoid liability for drivers’ actions, as in the case of the San Francisco tragedy.
Getting Compensation for an Uber Accident
If you’re hurt in an Uber accident, you will be covered by the drivers policy and should be covered under Uber’s liability policy and excess policy, regardless of who is at fault in the accident. While Uber will argue that the company is not responsible for poor driver behavior, since drivers are independent contractors rather than employees, we feel that argument can be defeated. Again, that argument only applies to claims with a value in excess of $1,000,000.00, because Uber drivers have $1,000,000.00 in coverage.
If the driver was distracted, drunk, under the influence of drugs, or reckless in the accident, Uber may attempt to avoid compensating you, but again, you are covered under the driver’s policy.
To get your rightful compensation, you may need to work with experienced accident attorneys to file a claim against Uber.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with an Uber driver, work with an experienced legal team to understand your options. For a consultation, contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.