It is safe to say that Uber and other rideshare services have changed the state of the transportation industry over the past decade. The ability to call a nearby Uber through an app on a cell phone has allowed people greater flexibility and convenience when they want to make their way from point A to point B.
However, as the rideshare industry has grown, the growing number of Ubers on the road has increased the odds of crashing with one of them. The employment arrangements between Uber and its drivers can lead to questions about liability if someone receives injuries in an accident. Is the Uber driver always to blame when a passenger or another motorist suffers harm? Is there another way to get money for any accident-related losses?
If you have suffered injuries in a collision involving an Uber in Florida, the best way to know how to claim compensation is to consult with an experienced Uber accident lawyer. Read on to learn more about how liability laws work when vehicular accidents involve Ubers.
Common Causes of Uber Accidents
As with all motor vehicles, Ubers are susceptible to accidents that can cause severe and even fatal injuries.
These accidents may injure:
- An Uber passenger
- An Uber driver
- Occupants of another vehicle
In any of these cases, determining who is liable is vital if you want to recover the compensation you deserve for injuries and losses you were not responsible for. To make this determination, you need to understand what caused the accident. Common causes of Uber accidents are:
Drowsiness or Fatigue
Uber drivers must abide by the company’s limits on how many hours they may be on duty. However, some Uber drivers circumvent these limits by working additional hours for other rideshare companies. Such practices can lead to fatigued or drowsy driving. When a motorist drives tired, their inability to respond quickly to road hazards can easily lead to dangerous crashes.
Exceeding the speed limit is a factor in many car crashes. Uber drivers may be more susceptible to speeding if they try to rush through one job to get to the next one more quickly. Yet speed limits exist to keep road users safe. The faster a car travels, the more diminished a driver’s ability to react safely to sudden road hazards becomes. Furthermore, fast driving increases the potential for fatal accidents.
All kinds of road accidents occur due to distracted driving. However, Uber drivers have even more than the average driver to distract them. Their job requires them to pay attention to requests on their app, converse with their passengers, and follow directions on their GPS devices. Yet drivers must exercise the same precautions as all other motorists, as distractions can lead to devastating collisions. Florida law prohibits drivers from texting or typing on any device behind the wheel, and Uber drivers are no exception.
Disobeying Traffic Laws
When they feel pressured to complete ride requests, rideshare drivers might try to cut corners by ignoring traffic laws.
They can cause dangerous accidents when they choose to:
- Run a red light
- Run a stop sign
- Cut off a driver who has the right of way
- Follow another vehicle too closely (tailgate)
- Change lanes or turn without signaling
When an Uber Driver Causes an Accident
Contrary to what you might expect, Uber drivers do not receive any specialized training or require a special license to be eligible for their job. Because this is true, their training and skill levels are the same as those of the average driver. Yet the amount of time they spend behind the wheel may increase the chances of making mistakes that can lead to an accident.
The source of compensation for anyone who suffers injuries in an Uber accident will depend on the driver’s status at the time of the collision. Speaking to an experienced Florida Uber accident attorney can help you understand the options available to you.
If the Uber Driver Has Not Logged Into the App
When an accident happens at a time when the driver has not logged into the app as active, the driver’s personal auto insurance policy will apply.
The type of auto insurance Uber drivers must carry depends on the state’s laws. Like all other motorists in Florida, Uber drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability coverage. Because Florida is a no-fault car accident state, each person who suffers injuries in an accident will first seek compensation from their own PIP policy. For example, if your policy has a limit of $10,000, your insurance can reimburse you for your medical expenses and lost income up to that amount.
However, the situation becomes more complicated if your injury costs exceed the amount of your policy. To sue the at-fault driver, you must meet Florida’s serious injury threshold. If you suffer injuries in an accident with an Uber driver who has not opted to purchase additional levels of coverage, their insurance might not cover your additional expenses. In such a case, you may need to seek compensation from your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you opted for this coverage. Otherwise, you may need to file a lawsuit against the Uber driver.
If the Uber Driver Has Logged Into the App
Uber and other rideshare companies carry a $1,000,000 total liability insurance policy for accidents their drivers cause. The accident must occur while the driver’s Uber app is active for this insurance to apply.
If the driver logged in and accepted a ride or has a passenger in the vehicle, Uber’s total liability insurance will cover any injuries that occur in accidents caused by their driver.
However, if you suffered injuries in an accident with an Uber driver whose app status was active but who has not accepted a ride request, coverage limits are:
- $50,000 in injury liability per person
- $100,000 in total liability per accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability per accident
Understanding the degree to which each insurance policy applies in various situations involving Uber drivers can be difficult. An experienced Florida car accident attorney can manage the complexities of your case for you.
When Another Driver Is at Fault for an Uber Accident
Not every accident involving an Uber is the fault of the Uber driver. If the rideshare driver is operating their vehicle safely, accidents can still happen due to another driver’s negligence.
If you suffer injuries in such an accident, you will first turn to your PIP policy for compensation. This process will allow you to claim 80 percent of your medical expenses and 60 percent of lost income, up to the amount of your policy. However, many severe accidents lead to injuries that can cost you several times the amount of your coverage, especially if you have taken out only the state-mandated $10,000 minimum amount.
As with all other accidents with an at-fault driver, you will need to seek compensation from:
- The at-fault driver’s bodily injury (BI) liability insurance policy, if they have one
- Your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage, if you have one and the other driver does not have a BI policy that will cover your injury-related losses
- A car accident lawsuit, if the above sources are not available or do not provide full compensation for the injuries you have suffered
Florida’s insurance laws can make recovering compensation feel challenging in these situations. Speaking with a knowledgeable Miami car accident attorney can help you understand what options are available to you in your case.
When a Hit and Run Driver Is at Fault for an Uber Accident
Hit and run accidents are far more common than many people realize. Data from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suggest that drivers flee the scene in more than 25 percent of accidents in Florida. In a recent year, hit and run crashes led to nearly 23,000 injuries and over 250 deaths. What should you do when you cannot identify the hit and run driver at fault for your injuries in an Uber accident?
The prevalence of hit and run crashes is one significant reason Florida drivers should purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. In many hit and run cases, a UM claim will be the only way to recover compensation for any injury-related losses exceeding the amount of your PIP policy.
Yet even filing a UM claim with your own insurer can be a complicated process. Speak to a qualified lawyer as soon as you have been in a hit and run Uber accident so you can understand your legal options.
When Another Party Causes an Uber Accident
While negligent driving is a significant factor in many accidents across the state, traffic collisions have other causes as well.
Parties that might have some degree of liability in a Florida Uber accident include:
- Commercial entities – If an employee such as a trucker, a moving van driver, or a bus driver causes a crash while working, their employer may share liability for your losses.
- Pedestrians – Pedestrians do not always have the right of way in Florida. While drivers should yield to them at crosswalks and when traffic signals instruct them to do so, pedestrians who dash across the road in unmarked areas where traffic flows can cause dangerous crashes.
- Bicyclists or motorcyclists – Drivers of passenger cars need to exercise caution around road users on two-wheeled vehicles. However, if a bicyclist or a motorcyclist behaves negligently on the road and causes an Uber crash, they can be liable.
- Car manufacturers – If a crash happens because of a design or manufacturing flaw in a vehicle or its components, you can hold the manufacturer accountable for your accident-related injuries in a product liability lawsuit.
When you hire an experienced Uber accident attorney to represent you, they will thoroughly investigate the crash to determine who is at fault. In many cases, multiple parties will bear liability for your losses. Seeking compensation from each of these people or entities is vital because one party’s insurance policy may not fully cover your losses.
While navigating a case with multiple at-fault parties can present challenges, a skilled lawyer will take the stress off your shoulders by taking your case through each step of the process for you.
The Bottom Line
Complicated accidents involving Ubers or other rideshare vehicles may involve multiple at-fault parties. To effectively investigate the accident, determine liability, calculate the value of your losses, and recover fair compensation, you need the professional legal counsel of a seasoned car accident attorney.