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Berelc Law Firm, P.C. Sept. 27, 2017

What to Know when Using Uber

Uber is a technology company that is most well-known for operating a car transportation service that offers customers services that are similar to taxi companies, food delivery, and other transportation services. These services are offered through their app, which allows individuals who are in need of a ride to connect with people who are willing to give them a ride. The primary idea or goal of this app is to make requesting a ride through Uber quicker, more convenient, safer, and often times cheaper than using a taxi service.

The process of hiring an Uber driver is fairly standard and comparable to any other job. The individual applying to work for Uber most have a Valid U.S. driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle insurance. Drives must also go through an online screening that reviews an applicant’s driving record and criminal history. This screening allows Uber to exclude people with multiple traffic violations, felonies, or multiple misdemeanors, which prevents negligent people from working for the company and increasing the company’s insurance coverage or liability for employing negligent drivers.

Uber tries to negate coverage and liability for drivers and passengers by arguing that Uber drivers are not considered employees of the company. The reason for this is because employers are liable for their employee’s actions, but in this case, Uber drivers are considered independent contractors. The distinction between employees and independent contractors allows Uber to deny liability when their drivers are involved in accidents. This ability to deny liability makes it more difficult for passengers to get covered if the driver was distracted, drunk or driving recklessly. This leaves passengers that are involved in an accident with two options. The accident victim may seek to sue Uber directly for compensation if Uber denies liability for their insurance claim, or they can seek compensation from the individual who was driving for Uber by filing a claim against their insurance company.

Uber’s coverage only kicks in if the driver requests it and if the driver’s personal liability coverage does not cover all of the damages. However, this may become problematic because the Uber driver and passengers may be denied by the driver's personal insurance policy because the driver was driving for work purposes or using their vehicle as a ridesharing vehicle and many insurance policies prohibit their insured from doing that. This makes it imperative for an Uber driver to check with their insurance company before driving for Uber to make sure their company will insure them even though they are driving for pay because there is still the possibility that Uber will deny your claim and any liability based on the fact that their drivers are considered independent contractors and not employees. However, recent lawsuits regarding misclassification of employment particularly in California may set a precedent for other cases of similar nature to change whether or not Uber drivers are regarded as employees or independent contractors throughout the country. This would force Uber to recognize their drivers as employees and force them to be liable for any accidents that occur while they are driving for Uber.

Even though they are not considered employees and the company technically is not liable for any damages or injuries. The company does have a $1 million insurance policy that will cover drivers and users of the app in certain situations. The coverage Uber offers can be broken down into three separate categories that are based on the driver’s activity at the time of the accident.

  1. The first is when the driver is driving their car for personal use or is not available to take riders for Uber at the time of the accident. Any accidents that occur while not driving with Uber is covered by the drivers’ personal auto insurance coverage that they purchased on their own.

  2. The second is when the driver is available to pick up passengers or is on their way to pick up passengers but does not have a passenger in the car with them. The driver is covered by Uber's insurance policy for three things: 1) the driver’s liability to a third party, 2) any injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured motorist, and 3) collision and comprehensive coverage if you already have such coverage on your personal insurance.

  3. The third is when the driver is available and has a passenger in the car with them and they are in an accident. When a rider is in your car, you have the same coverage as you do on your way to pick them up, plus the rider in your car is covered.

One of the most important things a person needs to know when using an Uber is what to do in case of an accident. Like any other automobile accident all parties involved need to be checked on after the accident, and if it is necessary paramedics should be notified. It is also a good idea to notify police even if it was a minor incident to ensure that there is a reliable and accurate report regarding the accident in case any issues regarding insurance arise. Finally, it is in the best interest of the parties involved to contact Uber as soon as possible to ensure the matter is brought to their attention in a timely matter to help ensure anyone involved in the accident will get the coverage they need and deserve.

If an individual is injured while riding as a passenger or driving for Uber, he or she may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit against the Uber driver or Uber. Forms of compensation may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The attorneys at the Berelc Law Firm are here to assist you through tough times. Please call us today to set up a free consultation if you have a question regarding an automobile accident while using Uber or driving for Uber.