When Does Uber Have to Pay for Injuries and Damages in an Auto Accident?

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It stinks when other people are responsible for the injuries that happen to you, doesnít it? Sometimes, you have to go through numerous legal hoops to get them to take responsibility for their role in the situation.

Then, when you have big powerful companies involved, they seem to want to do everything possible to avoid taking responsibility. It seems like they have control sometimes. You feel so helpless.

So what do you do when you get involved in an auto accident caused by an Uber driver?

Whoís responsible anyway? The driver? Uber? The driverís insurance company? Uberís insurance company?
Some combination of the above?

It can be a real mess to sort out. So hereís a rough guide to keep in mind if youíre hurt by a negligent Uber driver:

If Youíre a Rider, Uberís Probably Responsible for Your Injuries

Many states, including California (where Uber is headquartered), require ride-sharing companies to carry commercial liability insurance.

You may have heard about the courtroom battles regarding whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors. This actually differs by state.

In California, Uber drivers are considered employees. In Texas, New York, and Georgia, they are independent contractors.

Regardless, if you are a passenger in an Uber and the driverís negligence causes an accident, Uberís insurance company usually takes responsibility for the injuries you sustained.

If Youíre Not a Rider, It Gets Complicated

If youíre driving your own car, or if youíre a pedestrian, Uber may or may not have responsibility for the harm their driver causes you. It depends on whether their driver is ďon the clock.Ē

If they are, Uber has responsibility. If not, Uber likely doesnít have responsibility. However, the driverís private insurance may then take effect. But, some private insurers have successfully fought against this too.

So far, Uberís insurance only kicks in if the Uber driver carries passengers or if they have ďacceptedĒ an assignment and are en route to pick up a passenger.

Some Uber drivers also attempt to use their personal policies to provide business coverage. Typically, personal insurers only insure private vehicles for occasional business use. If an Uber driver regularly uses their car for business use, they may have no coverage at all (and not even know it).

If Uber and their driverís personal insurance donít cover the accident, you may have to use your own insurance.

Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer

This is just a simple overview. As you know, law gets complex in these situations. So if youíre not sure about the situation you find yourself in, make sure to talk to a personal injury lawyer.

Also, it is important to remember that Uber now offers uninsured / underinsured motorist benefits to passengers in an Uber. Say you hop in an Uber and youíre headed downtown to a bar to watch the big game. A negligent motorist in a Chevy Tahoe runs a red light and collides with the Uber. The driver of the Tahoe doesnít have valid insurance. You would likely be able to make an uninsured motorist claim through Uberís insurance company.

AUTHOR: Shane Mullen

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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