With millions of people using ride share companies, their drivers are involved in more and more crashes.
In Dallas the outrageous story about the drunk assistant district attorney fired last week for abusing her Uber driver shined a local spotlight on these increasingly popular services.
The problem is that their drivers are less regulated than if they drove for other businesses. Anybody can drive. I get emails asking me if I would like to and you probably do as well. No training or testing is required and until four months ago, no background checks into the driver were performed in Texas.
Further these drivers can be distracted by looking at their GPS, drive as much as they want, and are paid bonuses for increased pickups. It follows that distracted, untrained, and hurried drivers can be accidents waiting to happen.
What Happens in a collision with Uber or Lyft?
If you are the victim of a car wreck caused by a ride share driver or were the passenger inside one of their vehicles, these cases have more unique issues than the typical car accident. You need to know what insurance policies exist, who is covered, and how to proceed.
Liability insurance available depends on when the wreck happens.
When the Uber driver has a passenger: you must first file against the at-fault driver’s policy. In addition the Uber driver is covered by a $1 million per collision commercial liability policy if he is at fault and a $1 million uninsured/underinsured policy. I am representing a seriously injured passenger leaving a Dallas Cowboys game when an uninsured drunk crashed into his car and I am fighting to get him the entire amount.
When the driver is available under the app but has not yet picked up a passenger: the driver’s personal policy and Uber’s contingent liability policy of $50,000 per person/$100,000 per collision and $25,000 for vehicle damage is the limit.
When the Uber driver’s app is off: Uber contends that it is not responsible. This policy is currently under review. The driver is only covered by his own liability policy (usually a limit of $30,000 per person/$60,000 for all people injured and $25,000 for all property damage) in addition to possible Uber underinsured coverage of $50,000/$100,000/$25,000.
Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors to limit its exposure to liability and shift the blame to its drivers. Lyft has similar policies.
Texas just passed a law governing these companies six months ago. The new law finally requires a background check for the driver. Note that he is still qualified as long as he does not have more than three moving violations in the last three years or more than one for reckless driving, fleeing the police, or driving without a valid license.
What you should you
Just like in any car accident, you should go to a hospital or your doctor to be immediately checked out. You may be injured more seriously than you realize and you will need to be able to prove this in court or to the insurance company later.
You should also consult with a good car accident lawyer who can explain in a free meeting what steps you should take next. If the injury lawyer and you decide that employment is a good idea, your case will be handled on a “no recover, no fee or expenses” basis and you will not be charged until the case is successfully settled or a court verdict is rendered.
Here are some things you should NOT do after being in a car wreck.
We at Berenson Injury Law understand that being in any car or truck crash is a painful and even horrific experience. Ride sharing cases can be especially difficult determining the status of the driver, whether he is covered by the company’s or just his own policy, and dealing with multiple insurance adjusters and attorneys.
I have been representing people injured in motor vehicle collisions for over 37 years and are here to get you the compensation you deserve.