Ridesharing services are extremely convenient when you need to get somewhere on short notice. All you have to do is open an app on your mobile phone and you find an available Uber car. Unfortunately, not all Uber rides end with the client stepping out of the car safely to get on with their business. Many passengers and other drivers on the road are injured in a traffic accident caused by a negligent driver of an Uber car. In the State of Connecticut, accident victims have the right to seek compensation for their physical and emotional pain, as well as for the financial and property damage they suffered. If you were involved in an accident with an Uber vehicle, we encourage you to contact a personal injury attorney at Jacobs & Wallace law firm to discuss your case.
Filing an accident claim against an Uber driver is complicated if you want to obtain a fair compensation that covers all your financial losses. Apart from the fact that the insurance company will fight you all the way, you must know for sure what type of coverage is applicable to your personal injury case: the driver's own third party liability insurance policy or the one Uber must provide for all its drivers. In this article, we will detail all the specific challenges of personal injury claims against Uber drivers and the importance of hiring an experienced auto accident attorney to advise you on your legal rights and options.
The Specifics of Uber Car Accidents
As any experienced Uber accident attorney can tell you, in this type of accidents it is extremely important to establish the actual party liable for the personal injury victim's losses. First of all, let us explain to you how Uber operates.
The company has to follow the Connecticut regulations concerning the transportation network companies and taxicabs. This means that Uber is responsible to:
- renew their registration with the Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation each year
- conduct background checks on their drivers and make sure that they did not commit more than 3 moving violations or 1 serious traffic violation during the last three years
- ensure that the vehicles used by Uber drivers are in good condition
- provide insurance coverage for their drivers.
However, there are many loopholes that may allow Uber to avoid being held liable for motor vehicle accidents caused by their drivers. The number one challenge to filing a Uber accident lawsuit is the fact that Uber drivers are not employees, but independent contractors. This means, that the company that operates the Uber network of vehicles cannot be held liable by vicarious responsibility (the employer's responsibility for an employee's negligent actions).
The second challenge is proving that the automobile accidents or pedestrian accidents were caused by an Uber driver on duty. To understand the difference this aspect makes to your financial compensation or damage award, let us look at the insurance requirements for Uber drivers in Connecticut.
What Type of Insurance Coverage Must Uber Drivers Have?
Any driver using the roads of Connecticut must have insurance coverage for motor vehicle collision causing bodily injury and property damage. According to the law, this coverage must cover two key aspects:
- liability insurance: up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury and $25,000 per accident for property damage
- underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage: in case of a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver with too little or no insurance coverage, you may claim up to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury from you own insurance company.
It is important to note that the underinsured/uninsured motorist policy does not cover property damage and non-economic damages.
Now let us look at the insurance requirements for ridesharing services. They are treated as transportation network companies (TNC), just like taxicabs. The minimum legal requirements in the State of Connecticut are:
For drivers connected to the Uber digital app and available to accept rides:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death per person
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death per accident
- $25,000 for property damage.
For drivers who are actually giving a ride to a client:
- $1 million for bodily injury, death and property damage.
As you can see, the difference between the maximum compensation you may get from the driver's insurance policy versus the Uber coverage is staggering. For this reason, you need to get legal representation from an experienced car accident lawyer to ensure that you get the fair compensation you deserve.
The Most Frequent Causes of Uber Accidents in Bridgeport CT
Uber drivers should be carefully screened before they are accepted to work for the ridesharing company and provide public transportation services. In reality, many drivers pass under the radar and are later involved in a fatal accident caused by:
Distracted driving accidents happen with alarming frequency. Uber drivers are using various apps on their cell phone - including traffic apps - and fiddling with their car entertainment system. Some of them are even texting and driving while carrying a passenger. Unfortunately, it takes just one moment of not paying attention to cause serious traffic accidents, from pedestrian accidents to truck accidents.
Driving under Influence
Drunk drivers claim thousands of lives every day across the US. Both alcohol and drugs impair a person's ability to process visual and audio information and their reflexes. Thus, DUI means driving while impaired and unable to be in full control of the vehicle.
A reckless driver is usually aggressive, speeding, tailgating other vehicles and changing lanes frequently. In our decades of experience, we know that these drivers are prone to causing traffic accidents, often resulting in catastrophic injuries or death.
What to Do After an Uber Accident?
Whether you are a passenger in a Uber car, a passenger or another driver, you must know how to act if you want to maximize your chances of winning the maximum compensation you deserve. In our auto accident practice, we know exactly the steps you must follow. These are:
1. Call 911
After rideshare accidents, you need to call 911 and request an ambulance and a law enforcement team to investigate the accident scene. The police report they will prepare will be extremely useful to your Uber accident attorney at a later date to determine exactly what happened and who is liable for your accident injuries and associated medical costs.
2. Document the Accident Scene
You should not rely only ton the report prepared by the police. Use your phone to take photos of the crash scene, focusing on:
- your injuries
- the damage to your vehicle (if applicable)
- the position of the Uber vehicle immediately after the crash.
At the same time, you should get the Uber driver's contact and insurance details and identify any eyewitnesses who may provide testimonies.
3. Follow the Recommended Medical Treatment
You must accept medical care - including being taken to hospital and subject to various costs. The medical records prepared right after the accident will prove that your injuries were caused by the Uber accident. Moreover, you may suffer from serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, that require immediate medical attention.
Other injuries, such as internal organ damage or whiplash, may not show symptoms for hours, even days. However, the later you decide to see a doctor, the more complex your recovery may be. Plus, a lawyer representing the insurance company may claim that your injuries were caused in a separate incident, at a later date.
3. Do Not Fight Your Own Battle
Accident victims should never try to negotiate their settlement amount on their own. Auto insurance companies have teams of experienced adjusters and lawyers who will try to minimize your claim amount or even deny your accident claim.
If they cannot deter you, they will apply various delay tactics, until the statute of limitations (2 years in the State of Connecticut) expires and you no longer have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit.
4. Hire an Experienced Uber Accident Attorney
Uber auto accident lawyers know exactly how to investigate your accident in order to determine whether the driver was on duty or off duty. Moreover, they know how to counteract the insurance adjuster's delay tactics and will prepare a comprehensive claim file, detailing all the damages you are entitled to receive:
- economic damages for medical costs, lost wages, pocket expenses
- non-economic damages for physical pain, suffering, loss of companionship and emotional trauma
- punitive damages, if the Uber driver acted in an intentional or reckless manner in causing your accident.
At Jacobs & Wallace, you will find a team of dedicated car accident injury attorneys with decades of experience in similar cases. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we do not get paid until we win your fair compensation. Call us now to discuss your case with us: 203-332-7700!