Uber Car Accidents

Uber is a ride-share phenomenon, along with its main competitor Lyft, which has been controversial for its aggressive tactics in avoiding state regulations that pertain to commercial companies and state laws requiring such drivers to obtain commercial licenses that apply to cab companies and its drivers. Uber has been in the news as well for its policy of treating its drivers as independent contractors. This issue has had conflicting rulings in various state courts and is currently the subject of a class action lawsuit in California.

Insurance Coverage or Not for Uber Car Accidents?

Another issue pertaining to Uber regards liability and injured claimants being compensated if hit by an Uber driver. Many Uber and Lyft drivers were unaware when they began driving for these companies that their personal auto policies excluded coverage if they were using their vehicles to transport passengers for a fee. This exclusion applied regardless if they were in an accident while their Uber or Lyft app was on or “on the clock,” and were waiting for rider requests. In other words, as soon as they began driving for these companies, their policies became worthless. If an Uber or Lyft driver caused an accident, they would be held personally liable whether their driver app was activated or not.

The only exception was if the driver was transporting a passenger and caused an accident. Both ride share companies provide commercial coverage of $1 million if the driver’s primary policy was not sufficient or was not applicable under these circumstances.

Many insurance companies, though, are now including provisions that will cover ride-share drivers for personal use, including liability coverage for accidents but not while their apps are on or there is a ride-share passenger in the vehicle. Depending on the insurer and the particular state where the accident occurs, coverage will be handled by Uber or Lyft when either a passenger is in the car only or at all times when the app is in operation. Massachusetts law currently states that Uber or Lyft’s commercial coverage applies only when a ride-share passenger is in the vehicle. California law requires commercial coverage as soon as the driver app is activated. This may soon become the law in Massachusetts as well.

What to Do in Uber Car Accidents

If you are a pedestrian, Uber passenger or driver in another vehicle and are injured by the negligent driving of the Uber or Lyft driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Here are some suggestions for you to take under such circumstances:

  1. Immediately call 911 or have someone else call if you are injured.
  2. Get the name of the Uber or Lyft driver—your app should have the driver’s first name and the license plate if you are a passenger; otherwise all involved motorists are required to exchange information so you can obtain the driver’s name and all other required information.
  3. If you are a pedestrian or other motorist, the driver should have an insignia like a U or a pink moustache that is visible through the front windshield so you know that it was an Uber or Lyft vehicle.
  4. If there are passengers in the ride-share vehicle, get their names and phone numbers.
  5. Take photos of the vehicles and the passengers as well as the accident site and do not move your vehicle. If the other driver moves the car, note where it was at the point of rest.
  6. Do not discuss fault until police arrive.
  7. Do not refuse medical assistance if you feel at all injured or dazed. If you do, the Uber or Lyft insurer will assert you were not injured or your injuries were minimal.
  8. Do not give a recorded or written statement to anyone without first consulting with or retaining a Boston Uber accident lawyer.

Uber is a multi-billionaire company and is known for its reluctance to take responsibility for any negligent actions by a driver using its app to receive rider requests. It will also undoubtedly force you to prove liability and your damages as would any other insurer faced with having to pay an injury claim.

Proving liability and your damages is not always so clear-cut. Also, you may still face coverage issues if there is a dispute over whether the ride-share driver had the app activated. If you suffered major injuries, more scrutiny may be paid to your accident claim, requiring medical reports, records and other documentation to support your claim. Having an experienced Boston Uber car accident lawyer is essential whenever you are in an accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle.

Damages in a Car Accident

If your car accident was caused by the negligence of another motorist, you are entitled to damages, including:

  • Lost earnings
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Permanent disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

Promptly contact Boston Uber accident lawyer Paul Tetzel if you were hit by an Uber vehicle or were a passenger in an Uber car.  Early representation in your case can minimize the chance that certain issues will arise that can hamper or delay payment of compensation and can increase your chances of receiving the compensation your injury claim deserves.