The technology industry has “disrupted” the way that we live our lives. We can now use apps for everything from meditating to seeing our doctors to getting groceries delivered to getting a ride. While these developments are mostly positive, they also bring their share of problems.
Take the rideshare industry, for example. While companies like Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever to get a ride, their services are provided by an army of untrained drivers who meet the minimum requirements to drive. This can put passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk of being in an Uber accident.
If you have been injured in a crash with an Uber driver, you may be entitled to compensation. A California rideshare accident attorney can help you get an Uber accident settlement, using their knowledge of personal injury law and the specific laws that apply to these companies.
Understanding Uber’s Insurance Policy
Uber accidents are different from other types of motor vehicle collisions in an important way: the driver is working for a major corporation. As a result, the company may be responsible for any losses that you suffer as a result of the crash.
Uber maintains a commercial liability insurance policy for its drivers. Coverage under this policy depends on what the driver is doing at the time of the accident:
- Offline/driver app off: The driver’s personal automobile insurance policy applies.
- Driver available or waiting for a ride request: Uber insurance applies if the driver’s personal policy does not cover the accident. There are lower limits for this type of accident: $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident.
- During trips and en route to pick up riders: Uber’s policy applies, with $1,000,000 in coverage.
Because California has relatively low minimum insurance requirements for drivers, a person who is injured in an Uber accident may find that their losses are not fully covered by the driver’s personal auto insurance policy. Injury victims are most likely to get full compensation if Uber can be held responsible.
In most of the United States, Uber drivers are considered independent contractors. In California, Uber drivers are currently classified as employees under Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) and a recent court ruling. Uber, Lyft, and other “gig economy” companies have worked to get Proposition 22 on the November 2020 ballot. Depending on how Californians vote, this may change how app-based workers are classified yet again.
Why is this issue important for Uber accident victims? In essence, if Uber drivers are employees, then the company has greater responsibility for their actions. An experienced California car accident attorney will advise you of the current state of the law to ensure that you get the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.
How Are Uber Accident Claims Settled?
Generally, Uber accident claims start with filing a report with the company. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a Glendale car accident lawyer. Your attorney may also choose to send a demand letter to Uber, requesting compensation for your losses.
After an accident report or demand is received by Uber and/or its insurance company, it will evaluate the claim. The main question that must be answered is who was at fault for the accident. Under California law, a negligent driver who causes a wreck may be held financially liable for any injuries that result.
Negligence is based on four elements:
- Duty: The driver owed a duty of care to others
- Breach: The driver breached (violated) that duty
- Causation: This violation led to an accident, which was the but-for or proximate cause of the victim’s injuries
- Damages: The victim suffered losses
If it is clear that the Uber driver was to blame for an accident, then Uber may accept liability and make a settlement offer. Otherwise, Uber may refuse to settle the claim — and it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and Uber. For example, if another driver was at least partially to blame for the crash, then Uber may argue that it shouldn’t be liable, or that its liability should be reduced.
The first settlement offer from any insurance adjuster will likely be less than the true value of the claim. Keep in mind that insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and they make money by denying or minimizing legitimate claims. While you can accept an initial settlement from Uber, you will be required to sign away important rights in order to do so, like the ability to file a lawsuit.
In most cases, the first offer starts a negotiation process. The parties will go back and forth, making offers and counteroffers, until a settlement is achieved. The majority of personal injury claims settle without going to trial. Working with a personal injury lawyer can increase the likelihood of getting a settlement that will fairly compensate you for your losses.
What Kind of Settlement Can I Expect?
There is no “average” Uber accident settlement. The amount of compensation that you receive is based on a number of factors that are unique to each claim, such as:
- Liability: Uber will only offer a settlement if it determines that its driver was at fault for the crash.
- The severity of your injuries: you will typically get a higher settlement for more serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than you would for a minor injury, like a broken bone.
- How much money is available: if your accident occurred while the Uber driver was working, then it will likely result in a higher settlement due to the ability to access Uber’s commercial liability policy.
There are other items that could affect your settlement amount. For example, if multiple people are injured in a crash, then the policy limits may be exhausted more quickly — and each victim may receive less than they would have if they were the only person hurt.
Remember: time is of the essence in any personal injury claim. Reach out to an Uber accident attorney as soon as possible after a collision to start the claim process and increase the potential for a settlement that truly reflects the losses that you have experienced.