Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services have quickly become one of the most popular ways to get around Florida. This is an important option that can help prevent drunk driving. Unfortunately, as in any type of vehicle, passengers face the risk of injury when they ride in an Uber.
Car accident victims have the right to receive fair compensation for all their injuries and losses. By consulting with a Port Richey Uber accident lawyer as soon as possible, you will protect your critical legal rights. Reach out to Nicoletti Accident Injury Lawyers today.
Determining Who Was At Fault For an Uber Accident
The legally responsible (liable) person for causing your injuries also has a legal obligation to compensate you for them. This is why insurance companies begin a claims investigation by determining who was “at fault” for the accident. If another driver hit your Uber, that driver can be found liable for the accident.
If the Uber driver was at fault, their personal insurance policy would cover the accident. Uber also has large corporate policies that pay for injuries caused by their drivers. In some cases, a third party could cause an Uber accident that wasn’t even at the accident scene. If, for example, faulty brakes caused the accident, the vehicle manufacturer could be at fault for the accident.
As you can see, there are many different parties and insurance policies involved in an accident claim. Even “simple” accident cases can become complicated in the claims process. This is why it is so important to hire your own Uber accident lawyer. If not, the other insurance companies and attorneys may not respect your legal right to pursue compensation for all your injuries and losses.
How an Uber Driver Can Be Negligent
Being liable for an accident means that the defendant was negligent. There are many things an Uber driver can do to be considered negligent in causing an accident. Here are a few of the most common:
a) Distracted Driving
Distracted driving has become a bigger problem than ever before. Nearly every driver on the road today carries a smartphone with them at all times. As a result, drivers are tempted to talk, text, email, and even surf the internet while they are driving. Drivers can also be distracted by built-in entertainment systems and navigation programs. Technology is a particular distraction for Uber drivers. Drivers must be active in the app at all times to properly log their routes. Though they designed the app to prevent drivers from using it while driving, some drivers still allow themselves to be distracted by it. Distracted driving has become one of the most common causes of traffic accidents in the United States.
b) Drowsy Driving
Most drivers know that they should not operate a motor vehicle while they are tired. The problem is that sleepiness can creep up without the driver being aware of it. Many Uber drivers are working other jobs, which can leave them too tired to focus on driving. Uber drivers also work late at night and early in the morning. This schedule can add to their exhaustion and lack of focus. Drivers have a legal obligation to be aware of their state of mind and pull over if they are too tired to drive safely. Uber drivers who drive while tired can be found liable for accidents they cause.
c) Driving While Impaired
Most Uber drivers have the sense to drive while sober. Drunk driving is a violation of the law and a violation of their working agreement with Uber. Though many of us can recognize the signs of alcohol impairment, this is not the only way that a driver can be impaired. Some might be under the influence of recreational drugs or medicinal marijuana. It is still illegal to drive under the influence of these substances (even if they are being used lawfully, for example, under the medical marijuana program). Even prescription medications patients take as directed can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
You should immediately get out of the vehicle if your Uber driver appears to be impaired. Report the incident through the Uber app, and call the police if there is any immediate danger.
The Insurance Coverage Available for an Uber Accident
There are many different types of insurance coverage that are available to pay for injuries sustained in an Uber accident. It is important to work with an injury lawyer who knows how to find all potential sources of compensation, to ensure that you do not miss out on any compensation the law entitles you. An experienced lawyer will also be your advocate so that different insurance companies do not try to blame each other and deny you coverage that is in place.
Here are of the most common insurance policies that pay out in Uber accident cases:
- The at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy
- The Uber driver’s personal auto insurance policy
- Uber’s corporate supplemental insurance policy
- A workers compensation policy (if you were on the clock at the time of the accident)
- The personal injury protection coverage on your own auto insurance policy
Don’t Handle Your Claim With Uber Directly
Some injury victims choose to handle their claims on their own, without the advice of an accident attorney. You have the legal right to do this. However, it is not advisable, and there are reasons why injury victims consistently receive higher settlements when a lawyer represents them. Remember that Uber is not on your side. You have a legal claim against them, so they are actually working against you.
It is in their interest to resolve your claim for as little money as possible. It is in your interest to get all the compensation the law entitles you to. When you face the power of their large corporation and an army of lawyers, it is difficult to defend your own legal rights. An Uber accident lawyer will know how to advocate for you to ensure you get fair compensation for all your injuries and losses.
Why You Need an Uber Accident Lawyer?
There are many other things an Uber accident lawyer does to protect your legal rights. These tasks start as soon as you hire a lawyer. For this reason, it is important to hire an injury lawyer as soon as possible to maximize your protection.
Here are just some of the many things an Uber accident lawyer does to protect your right to fair compensation:
- Preserves evidence (such as security footage) that someone might otherwise destroy before you could use it in your case
- Communicates with the insurance company (to protect you from saying anything that could hurt your case)
- They will help you find medical providers who will wait for payment (such as chiropractors) to ensure you get the treatment you need while your case is pending
- They will document your pain and suffering and other intangible losses that are subject to compensation
- Determines the fair value of your case by comparing it to other settlements and jury awards in your area in similar injury cases
- If necessary, files a lawsuit and litigates your case all the way to trial
Even a “simple” accident case can involve complex legal issues. The question of liability in Uber accident cases is still an evolving issue that all courts have not resolved. For this reason, it is especially important to hire an injury lawyer who has experience handling Uber accident cases.
The Compensation You Are Owed For Uber Accident Injuries
Injury victims are entitled to different types of compensation after an Uber accident:
#1. Special Damages
Special damages are the financial losses that you can itemize with receipts and documentation. Common examples include medical bills, prescription and pharmacy costs, lost wages, and property damage. Your employer can document your lost wages with a statement showing how many hours you missed and what your hourly rate of pay is. (If your employer pays you a salary, this can be prorated based on a forty-hour workweek.) If you can prove that you also lost bonuses, commissions, overtime, benefits, or other types of employment compensation, you can claim these losses as lost wages in your Uber accident case.
#2. General Damages
Injury victims are also entitled to compensation for their intangible losses, such as pain and suffering. These “general damages” are often the largest component of a personal injury settlement. For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced Uber accident lawyer who knows how to prove what your pain and suffering are fairly worth. A painful recovery can subject a victim to lost sleep, missing work, frustration that affects their personal relationships, and many other intangible losses.
Sometimes, a victim must miss major life events, like a graduation or a wedding. Sometimes the loss is permanent: if, for example, you are unable to ever work again, you may experience a lost sense of pride in the ability to earn a living and be good at your job. Injury victims are entitled to fair compensation for these losses.
#3. Punitive Damages
In some cases, injury victims can also claim punitive damages. Punitive damages do not compensate a victim for their losses. Instead, punitive damages punish a defendant for a particularly egregious act. Courts rarely award punitive damages in a case against an individual. These awards are most often against large companies that put many consumers at risk with their dangerous conduct.
For example, imagine that an Uber driver was allowed to keep using the platform after Uber received multiple reports of DUI and riders suspecting that the driver was impaired. The company would be negligent in failing to protect its users from a potentially fatal DUI accident. While punitive damages are rare, there may be scenarios where they are available to Uber accident injury victims. Ask your lawyer if he or she has experience with punitive damages cases - especially against Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare service providers.
Can I Face Penalties For Filing a Claim Against Uber Or With My Insurance Company?
Uber is a service. The company wants as many riders as it can get to use the app as much as possible. It is unlikely that the company would ever ban a user for filing a legitimate injury claim because lost business would be bad for the company. Do not hesitate to let your injury lawyer file a claim against the company.
Similarly, your own insurance rates cannot go up for filing a “no-fault” claim under your own policy. Uninsured or underinsured motorist claims are no-fault claims. Personal injury protection can also be a no-fault claim when someone else is liable for the accident. The Florida Statutes say that the insurance company cannot raise your premiums unless you were “substantially at fault” for an accident. As a result, your PIP or UM/UIM claim from an Uber accident will not raise your rates, and if your insurance company tries, it is violating state law.
Do not hesitate to let your accident lawyer file a claim under your own no-fault coverage. After all, that is what you are paying insurance premiums for! You are entitled to the coverage, and your insurance company cannot raise your premiums for filing a no-fault claim.
Wrongful Death Claims and Uber Accidents
Sadly, not all car accident victims survive their injuries. Thousands of victims are killed every year in motor vehicle crashes across Florida. These deaths are tragic and also preventable. Surviving family members need to hold drivers accountable for their negligence - especially when that negligence causes death. Wrongful death claims help hold drivers accountable, deter other drivers from similar actions, and keep the roads of Florida safer for everyone.
The process of filing a wrongful death claim can be incredibly difficult for survivors. They must testify about their loss while they are still processing their grief. Our wrongful death lawyers work with survivors to help them understand what will happen with their case, what they will be required to do, and whether they are prepared to take on the difficult task of holding someone accountable for wrongful death.
Port Richey Uber Accident FAQs
#1. Why is the Uber ridesharing system dangerous?
Statistics have shown that car accidents are up since ridesharing companies were introduced to Florida roads. Besides the additional cars on the road, the entire way that the rideshare system operates adds to the danger for other drivers and rideshare passengers.
First, Uber drivers will ride around on local roads between rides in high congestion areas while they wait for ride requests. This is a process known as “deadheading.” They will tie up traffic while they drift around on the roads. Then, they will speed up and make sudden turns when they receive a ride request.
Uber driving is all about the app. Drivers have their eyes on this app at all times, at the expense of their attention paid to traffic. If they do not see a ride request when it comes up, they will miss the chance to get a paying fare. This encourages distracted driving. Even if their device is mounted in the car, focusing on the app will keep the driver from watching where they are going, especially when they are responding to a ride request.
Drivers may even be speaking to a customer when they are on the way, trying to coordinate the pickup, resulting in distracted driving. Uber drivers are always on the hunt for the best paying fare possible when they should focus on the road and safety.
The fleet of Uber drivers often consists of people who have little to no training, having passed a brief course and undergone a driving record check. This does not mean that they will be a safe driver. This is especially true when the driver is going to places where they are unfamiliar, guided only by their mobile device at which they are constantly looking. In addition, many of them drive late at night after they finish their primary job, looking to make extra money. This means that many Uber drivers can be tired and drowsy, making them dangerous drivers.
No matter how much Uber talks about their safety and their vetting, the fact is that people can practically come off the street to be a driver. They may drive as they are able, which means that they are inexperienced. A fleet of amateur drivers transporting passengers when they need money is not exactly the recipe for a safe operation.
#2. Is it Possible to Sue Uber for My Accident Injuries?
Uber does everything it can to make sure that it cannot be touched when its drivers cause injuries. Uber is very legally crafty in ensuring that its drivers are not full employees. Instead, Uber classifies them as independent contractors. This is a common theme of the gig economy. It means that the drivers are not really employees of Uber.
Instead, they are ordinary people who just happen to use their car to make some extra money (or earn a living) using Uber’s app. For their part (providing the app), Uber claims a 25 percent cut plus other fees. Even though Uber brokers the ride and receives payment for it, the company cannot face vicarious liability in a lawsuit.
Uber does this for many reasons. They boost their bottom line because they do not provide their drivers with benefits, and they are exempt from some labor laws. They are also almost untouchable in lawsuits. This does not mean that injured passengers and drivers have zero legal recourse, but it does mean that they do not have the deep pockets of the ridesharing company to go after in a lawsuit.
You can't easily get at Uber in a lawsuit. There is the possibility of a negligent hiring lawsuit against the company. Uber claims to do background and driving record checks before it allows drivers out on the road using its apps. If the driver had a poor driving record, and Uber allowed them to offer rides anyway, then Uber may be responsible.
This seems very unfair, especially based on the fact that Uber rakes in billions of dollars of revenue each year from its app. There are some possible efforts to change this in the future, preventing Uber from classifying its drivers as independent contractors. For now, that is the reality, and accident victims can only proceed against the insurance policy unless some very extreme circumstances apply (i.e., sexual assaults).
#3. What Should I Do After an Uber Accident?
You have limitations on what you can do at the scene of the accident, especially when you suffered injuries. At the very minimum, you should get the driver’s name and the details of your ride. Then, you should make sure to report the accident to Uber.
If you have even a remote suspicion that you may have suffered some injury from the accident, you should get medical help. The doctor can give you a full evaluation and diagnose any possible injuries that you have suffered. This actually serves two purposes. The first is that it can be the first step towards getting the medical help that you need to recover from the accident. The second is that it will document your injuries when you make the insurance claim. One of the requirements of the personal injury compensation process is that you suffered an injury.
Then, you should contact an experienced Port Richey Uber accident attorney. You will be dealing with an insurance company to file a claim, and they have their own interests at heart and not yours. You will need an attorney to fight for you to get the most possible compensation for your Uber accident injuries. Your lawyer will help guide you through the legal process and will work to put you in the best position to receive the most compensation. Without an attorney, you will be vulnerable to the games that insurance companies play that almost always result in less compensation than you deserve or even none at all.
Finally, the focus should also be on what you should not do after an Uber accident. You should be very careful about talking to anyone about your accident. Do not post about it on social media and be very suspicious if you receive a call from someone you do not know. Even a loose statement to the insurance company can later go against you to cut the amount of compensation that you may receive. It is always better to say less and let your lawyer do the talking for you.
#4. Why Should I Hire an Attorney for an Uber Accident Claim?
Rideshare accident claims can be complicated. There are different coverage rules from regular car accidents. Beyond that, Uber accidents can have many different coverage levels. You may not even know which insurance you need to file a claim against. If this sounds convoluted, this is exactly the way that Uber wants it. Even though it is not their money on the line directly, the more their insurance company pays out the higher their rates.
The thing that Uber accidents have in common with other automobile accidents is the fact that an insurance company is involved. Their tactics are the same, no matter the type of accident. They are all designed to save themselves money. They want to avoid paying claims entirely when they can and reduce the amount that they need to pay if they do accept the claim.
This can result in a variety of different tricks that they use, all of them aimed at reducing what you may receive. On your own, you may be vulnerable to this. A lawyer can protect you by handling the communication with the insurance company.
In the end, the amount of compensation that you may receive will be the product of a negotiation with the insurance company. The average person does not have the tools to handle this negotiation on their own. First, they do not know how much their claim is worth, so they are at a disadvantage to the insurance company that does. Second, they may not even know that they can reject a settlement offer that does not pay them what they legally deserve.
An Uber accident attorney has experience in dealing with rideshare insurance companies. They know the special considerations that these accidents involve and how to work within this unique system. Most of all, they know how to say no and put pressure on the insurance company when they are dragging their feet on paying you what you deserve.
#5. How is fault determined in an Uber Accident?
The Uber driver may not automatically be the one to blame for the accident that injured you. Uber accident cases may first look at the driver as the cause for the injury, but there can be other responsible parties.
For example, if you suffered injuries as a passenger in a rideshare car, the Uber driver may not be responsible for the accident. The other driver may have done something wrong that caused the crash. Your attorney will investigate the accident to determine the appropriate party from which to seek compensation.
Like every other personal injury case, an Uber accident claim will involve negligence on someone’s part. You are trying to prove that a driver acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Whichever driver did something wrong is the one who will need to pay for your injuries.
If you sustained injuries as a driver in an accident with an Uber vehicle, you can determine responsibility in the same way. The Uber driver is not automatically at fault. Like any car accident, you will need to prove that the Uber driver was negligent.
Here are some negligent things that the driver can do:
- Hitting another car because they were looking at the app instead of the road
- Sideswiping a vehicle as they pull over to pick up a passenger
- Speeding to get in the vicinity of a pickup more quickly
- Causing an accident because they are drowsy while driving late at night
These require proof of what happened, for which an attorney can help you gather evidence. The cause of the accident is not always apparent at the time of the crash, and you may need to establish what happened. The driver may not admit to what they did, and they can be telling a different story because they do not want to be liable. Your attorney will need to demonstrate that your side of the story is the correct one.
If another driver was at fault and they do not have enough insurance to cover your damages, you can file a claim against Uber’s policy. They have underinsured motorist coverage, so you do not end up paying the price when another driver has a minimal amount of insurance coverage.
#6. Can I still receive compensation if the Uber driver did not have a passenger in the car?
Yes. Uber’s insurance coverage rules are complicated. Nonetheless, you can still file a claim against Uber’s insurance policy so long as the driver was in the car with the app engaged. This is what causes Uber’s policy to kick in and cover accidents. The level of coverage is less than if the driver either had a passenger in the car or had accepted a ride request and was on the way to pick up the passenger. Regardless, you can still file a claim. If the driver was negligent, they can be personally responsible for your damages, or you can file an underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance.
You can still receive compensation if the Uber driver was in the car, but the app was not on or engaged. Then, you will file a claim against the driver’s personal auto insurance policy. In any event, you need a lawyer to help untangle this complicated web and go to bat for you when you are dealing with insurance companies that are trying to save some money at the expense of your legal rights.
Learn How Our Port Richey Uber Accident Lawyers Can Help You
The firm of Nicoletti Accident Injury Lawyers handles complex Uber accident claims, and we can evaluate your rights after a crash and injuries. Contact us directly at (727) 845-5972 so we can discuss what happened and whether our legal team can help.
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