Transportation apps like Uber have become immensely popular in the past few years. Passengers love the apps for their convenience, while the company’s contract drivers use the app to make extra cash on the side. However, these apps also have notoriously slippery insurance policies for drivers, and passengers often have questions about insurance coverage in the case of an accident. At the Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka, P.C., we encounter these questions frequently. Today, we’ll review what to expect in the event that you’re in an accident while driving for or riding with Uber or a similar company.
What Happens When I’m Working for Uber?
If you’re driving for Uber, the company is fairly clear: While passengers are in the car, Uber offers up to $1 million in liability. But since Uber insists it’s a tech company that licenses an app to independent providers, it has been resistant to offering full insurance protection for its drivers. Nowhere did this become more apparent than in the tragic case of Sofia Liu, a six-year-old girl who was killed when an Uber driver hit her with his car in a San Francisco crosswalk. The driver, Syed Muzaffar, was an Uber contractor looking for fares, but had no passengers at the time. According to Uber’s original legal statement, they were not responsible for Liu’s death, since the driver had no passengers and therefore was in a “gray area” of insurance.
Uber has since reached a wrongful death lawsuit settlement with Liu’s family, and the state of California now requires than Uber drivers be covered by company insurance when they don’t have passengers. However, the Golden State is the only one to put this law in place so far. In all other states, if you get into an accident while driving for Uber but without a passenger, you are potentially responsible for your own car repairs and the repairs of other cars involved. To further complicate the matter, your personal insurance may refuse to cover your damages since you were working for the company at the time, or even cancel your policy.
If you are working for Uber, ask questions of your current insurance provider to make sure that all parties understand clearly what they are responsible for in the event of an accident. If your state requires that Uber, Lyft or another transportation network company provides insurance, you’ll need proof of insurance for your car in the event that something happens.
What Happens When I’m A Passenger?
If your Uber driver crashes and you are injured, the company says that you are covered by up to $1 million in damages. However, the company states that injured parties can’t sue for damages exceeding $1 million (damages which may include medical expenses, emotional harm and lost wages) even if the driver was reckless. This problem is compounded by the fact that multiple reports of recklessness, drunkenness or assault by Uber drivers have surfaced since the company went nationwide.
Uber is tightening its background check policy, but their level of responsibility is still unclear, especially because at the moment, it is legally hazy as to whether drivers are considered independent contractors or employees. As you can see from the case of Sofia Liu, Uber has made it difficult for injured parties to sue, but settlement is not impossible. In fact, the only way that these legal issues surrounding Uber’s liability will get worked out is through the courts.
Who Should I Call for Advice?
If you are hurt and need help, contact us immediately so we can go to work for you. We help injured people get compensation and medical treatment so they can get back to health and their daily activities without having to deal with the insurance companies. If you’ve been in an accident while driving or riding in an Uber, call the Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka, P.C. for legal advice. Our experienced attorneys will help you to feel comfortable and at home in our offices while we review the details of your incident and determine how we can help you build a case and reach a settlement. Call 856-283-0589 for a free consultation, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.