Uber Accident Lawyers in Atlanta Helping Victims Recover Compensation
Uber started as a company in the year 2009. Since that time, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have been giving taxicab companies and other modes of public transportation a run for their money. Eleven years after it started, Uber has become an extremely popular mode of transportation for people all over the country and has made getting from place to place more convenient than it has ever been before.
Unfortunately, with the popularity of ridesharing companies like Uber comes the increased likelihood of motor vehicle accidents involving Uber vehicles. These accidents are further complicated by the fact that when it comes to ridesharing accidents, there is not a lot of case law to serve as a precedent for how legal issues should be resolved. Some of the most common questions that arise include who should pay for the property damage and injuries and which insurance company is liable.
If you or someone you love was in an accident with an Uber ridesharing vehicle, you want our experienced team of Atlanta personal injury attorneys on your side, because we understand the law and know how to handle these accident cases.
The Atlanta Uber accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm regularly represent clients who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents that involve ridesharing vehicles. Please give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you file a claim against the negligent party and pursue the monetary compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Important Steps to Take After in an Atlanta Uber Accident
The steps you should take following involvement in an Uber accident are much the same as you would take after being involved in any type of motor vehicle collision. First, you should dial 9-1-1, which will summon the police and first responders to the scene of the accident. The police officers who come to the scene can also prepare a report as to how the accident occurred, the parties who were involved, who was at fault for the collision, and whether or not one or both of the involved drivers was issued a citation.
If you can, you should also write down the name of the other drivers who were involved in the collision and take down the license numbers of all involved vehicles. It is also important to take photos of the property damage sustained by the vehicles in the accident. Finally, when taking these notes, you should write down any observations you made about the Uber driver. Did your driver appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs while he or she was operating the ridesharing vehicle? Did the driver appear to be operating his or her motor vehicle in a reckless or careless manner before the collision? Did any of the other drivers involved in the collision appear intoxicated or driving carelessly or recklessly?
In addition, even if you don’t feel that you were injured in the accident, seek prompt medical treatment—preferably in a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility on the same day as the accident. The longer you delay medical treatment, the harder it will be to causally relate your injuries to the motor vehicle accident. Moreover, in some cases, it is very difficult to tell whether or not you suffered an injury in an accident, since it may take a while for symptoms to develop. Generally speaking, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you should seek medical treatment right away.
One of the first steps you should take after being involved in an Uber accident is to contact the Atlanta Uber accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm. Our legal team can assist you with the next steps in the process.
What to Do if You Are Contacted by an Uber Company Representative or Insurance Company
Uber drivers who become involved in a motor vehicle collision are supposed to take certain steps. First, they should contact Uber right away and notify a company representative that they have been involved in a motor vehicle collision. At some point, a company representative from Uber or an insurance company representative may reach out to you for a recorded statement or to otherwise answer questions about the accident, how it occurred, and the injuries you sustained. You should never speak with any individuals until you have first consulted with an attorney.
In most instances, insurance company representatives will appear friendly and cooperative. However, you should keep in mind that these individuals represent an insurance company that is worth millions of dollars—and are protecting the insurance company’s interests.
Before speaking with an Uber company representative or insurance company, talk to our knowledgeable Atlanta Uber accident attorneys at Brauns Law Firm first. We can make sure that your legal rights remain protected throughout the claims process and that you are not caught off guard by a savvy company representative or insurance adjuster.
Liability for an Uber Accident in Atlanta
The individual or entity that is at-fault for the accident is the liable party. However, it can sometimes be difficult to prove liability—or fault—for a motor vehicle accident that involves an Uber vehicle. To operate a vehicle for Uber, the Uber driver is required to carry a personal policy of motor vehicle insurance. Uber drivers are also covered under an Uber corporate policy, as stated on the Uber corporate website.
Uber’s insurance coverage effectively begins when a driver activates the app. The coverage increases significantly when the driver accepts a rider, and that coverage remains in place until the trip terminates. According to Uber’s website, their insurance coverage also extends to UberSUV, UberBlack, and UberTaxi.
Moreover, in the State of Georgia, as well as in a handful of other states, ridesharing companies, including Uber, are required to cover any driver who has accepted a fare—but has not yet picked up his or her passenger. Therefore, if a driver was effectively “on the clock,” even though he or she might not have been actively transporting a passenger at the time the accident, Uber may still share in some of the liability for an accident.
If you are a passenger in an Uber vehicle and suffered injuries in an accident, you were obviously not at fault for the accident, and you should file a personal injury claim for the damages which you suffered in the accident. An experienced Atlanta Uber accident lawyer at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with making that claim and pursuing the damages to which you are entitled.
Cases Where an Uber Vehicle Hits a Driver’s Vehicle
To become an Uber driver, an individual must meet all of the following requirements:
- Pass a background check administered by Uber
- Be at least twenty-one years old or older
- Have a car that satisfies certain requirements
Uber drivers are not required to hold a CDL—or commercial driver’s license—like bus drivers or commercial truck drivers. Moreover, Uber does not require its drivers to obtain fingerprints, undergo additional driving tests or training, or undergo a physical medical exam or psychological/psychiatric evaluation.
When Uber drivers operate their motor vehicles on a public roadway, they owe a duty of care to all other drivers who are on the road at that time. Specifically, they owe a duty to follow all traffic laws and regulations which are in place and to operate their vehicles in a safe, careful, and prudent manner. When drivers fail to do this and an accident results in which one or more individuals suffer an injury, then the at-fault driver can be liable to the injured accident victim(s) for damages.
If the driver of an Uber vehicle negligently collides with your vehicle, and you suffer an injury, the Uber driver is liable. The primary difference between an Uber accident and a “regular” car accident is that in cases where an Uber vehicle is involved, there are several insurance policies that may come into play. For example, individuals who drive for Uber and cause an accident have insurance coverage through both their Uber company policy, as well as through their own personal motor vehicle insurance policy.
Uber accident cases can be difficult to manage on your own. If you are the driver of a vehicle that was struck by an Uber vehicle, let the knowledgeable Atlanta Uber accident attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm assist you throughout your personal injury case.
Recovering Damages After an Uber Accident
Motor vehicle collisions that involve an Uber vehicle can lead to serious injuries and lengthy medical treatment—just like with any other passenger vehicle accident.
If an Uber driver caused your accident, you may file a claim directly against your Uber driver, and/or Uber, for the following:
- Compensation for all of the medical treatment which you received following your accident
- Compensation for lost earnings, in the event your injuries and medical treatment required you to miss time from your job
- Compensation for all of the pain, suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish that you incurred as a result of the injuries which you suffered in your accident
- Compensation for loss of earning capacity, if you can’t return to your same job or line of working following your accident
- Compensation for loss of spousal or family support as a result of injuries which you suffered in your accident
In addition to the types of damages listed above, accident victims who are injured in an Uber accident may recover punitive damages—especially if the negligent driver was at fault for the accident criminally. Punitive damages are damages that are awarded above and beyond the compensatory damages noted above.
The experienced Atlanta Uber accident lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can determine your eligibility for compensatory and punitive damages and will work hard to pursue the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
Atlanta Uber Accident Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
In just ten years since Uber offered its first ride in San Francisco, where it was founded, rideshare services have become ubiquitous. Uber remains the largest, but Lyft, Curb, Wingz, Sidecar, and Via, among countless other small rideshare services, are now in the market. Rideshare companies contract with individual vehicle owners to provide ride service for pay through an ordering app. They use everyday folks who want to earn some extra money driving people around. People use an app on their phone—a different app for each rideshare service—to order a ride. Such services are prevalent in urban areas.
The more sparsely populated an area is, the less likely it is to be served by a rideshare company, but most urban areas are served by a plethora of rideshare services. They are convenient, relatively inexpensive, and easier to use than taxis. Your payment is online through the payment method you register when you sign up for the service’s app, and no cash changes hands. The services are quite popular, particularly in urban areas.
It has been estimated that one in five Americans has used a ridesharing service. And, just like with other trips via passenger vehicle, the vast majority of riders using a rideshare service will enjoy a safe trip to their destination that is affordable and without incident. Unfortunately, many rideshare users—just like other passenger vehicle occupants—will be involved in an accident, helpless to control the outcome from their spot in the back seat.
Some of those riders will suffer injuries. Since most people who have used a ridesharing service live in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, some of those accident victims taking a rideshare service are likely to be in Atlanta. If you have already taken a rideshare car somewhere, such as Uber, and plan to again, or if you are thinking of using a rideshare service such as Uber at some point, you probably should have some questions.
What you might want to know about Uber and other rideshare services: These services share some common denominators. However, not all of the services are the same. Therefore, it makes sense to address some frequently asked questions you might have regarding ridesharing services. These include:
How do you order a rideshare car such as Uber?
People who wish to use a rideshare service order a ride through an app on their smartphone. They download the app from the rideshare service, such as Uber, register, and put a payment method on record, such as a credit card. When they order a ride through the app, the app lets the nearest available driver who is online know where the person requesting the ride is, and the driver goes to get the passenger and take the passenger to their destination.
Why do people use rideshare services?
The services are cheaper and more convenient than taxicabs or other more traditional ride-for-hire services, such as limousines. They are not available everywhere, but several services operate in most urban and suburban areas. Even in rural areas, there are services available in many places.
Am I more likely to be involved in a traffic accident using Uber or some other rideshare service versus using a taxi or my own car?
No one knows whether you are more or less likely to be involved in an accident using a rideshare service. Or, at least, no one is telling. The Chicago Tribune once tried to get statistics regarding accidents, injuries, and fatalities that occurred in the Chicago metro area while using rideshare services. They couldn’t. The rideshare companies might keep such statistics—they don’t say—but they don’t release them.
Further, it appears that no government agency collects such statistics. Rideshare drivers, unlike taxis, don’t have to register any government agency, state, local, or federal. This makes it virtually impossible to keep statistics on them. Even when the police arrive at an accident scene, they can’t tell if a driver works for a rideshare service unless the driver tells them. There is no reason for the driver to do so, and the police might note it, but don’t keep statistics on that anyway. As a result, publicly available statistics on rideshare accidents simply don’t exist.
What are the requirements to become a rideshare driver?
All of the companies require some kind of background check—some require criminal background checks only, while others require full background checks. They all require clean driving records, a personal vehicle (some of the larger companies will help you obtain one), insurance on that vehicle, and a driver’s license.
What kind of insurance does my rideshare driver carry?
The answer to this question depends largely upon which ridesharing service you are using. For the two market leaders, the coverage they provide for their drivers is largely the same. For both Uber and Lyft, the company-provided insurance covers injuries suffered in accidents for which their driver is liable so long as the app is active and the driver is either on the way to pick up a passenger or the passenger is already in the car.
The only part that matters to you as a rideshare passenger is that once you are in the rideshare car, Uber or Lyft provide liability coverage for your injuries of up to $1 million per incident. Uber also provides $1 million per incident in uninsured/underinsured motorist liability coverage if the Uber car you are riding in is involved in an accident where an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault. Lyft provides the same coverage. For both companies, liability coverage is different in New York City because of local laws and regulations.
What insurance do drivers for other rideshare services have?
Other rideshare services have insurance arrangements with their drivers. Curb, for instance, is not really a rideshare service. It provides passengers with an app they can use to hail a taxicab. Their drivers must have a taxi driver’s license, and Curb provides its drivers with whatever insurance is required by state and local regulations for taxis. Wingz does not purchase insurance for its drivers. Instead, Wingz has a deal with an insurance company to write commercial use riders for its drivers’ personal insurance policies.
Such riders are not very expensive, and Wingz does not pay for the insurance riders for its drivers. Also, the insurance rider from the contracted insurance company is not available everywhere Wingz has drivers, so Wingz drivers in some areas must purchase their own commercial use riders.
If they don’t have a commercial use rider for their personal automobile insurance, their insurer is likely to deny claims for any accidents that occur while the driver is using a personal vehicle for a commercial purpose, including transporting ridesharing passengers. Further, Wingz’s driver requirements apparently require them to have only a personal insurance policy. Via only operates in a few cities and is a multi-passenger service only. It requires its drivers to have liability insurance that satisfies local regulations. Sidecar covers its drivers under a liability policy with a $1 million limit, much like Uber and Lyft. For services other than Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, better safe than sorry—ask the driver about insurance coverage.
Can I sue Uber directly, or whatever other rideshare service I was using, if I was in an accident while in a rideshare car?
In every state but California, probably not. Or at the least, you can sue, but your odds of success are virtually nil. All of the major rideshare services contend that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees and that the rideshare companies—Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar included—are not liable for the negligence of their drivers. In court, at least, the ridesharing companies are winning that battle. Further, the National Labor Relations Board in May 2019 released a legal opinion that rideshare drivers are independent contractors, not employees of the rideshare company.
Other federal decisions have supported that view. As an independent contractor, any driver actions that go beyond the scope of the service offered by Uber or any other rideshare services, is not the responsibility of the rideshare service. Driving negligently and getting into an accident falls into that “not the responsibility of the rideshare service” category.
You can collect on the rideshare service’s insurance, or from the driver’s insurance, but likely only if the driver has a commercial use rider on his personal liability coverage. If not, you might have difficulty collecting damages.
In addition to that, by downloading the app for the major rideshare services, you are agreeing to the legal language included, which states that installing the app means you agree to arbitration of any claims against the rideshare service that you might have. Many courts have upheld and enforced that arbitration requirement.
California is different due to AB5, a law that was passed last year that makes it extremely difficult to classify workers as independent contractors. Nearly three dozen bills proposing various changes to AB5 have been introduced since the law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, with some going so far as to propose the law’s repeal. Uber is redesigning its app for its California drivers to give them more flexibility on accepting rides in hopes of continuing to classify drivers as independent contractors.
Despite the classification of rideshare drivers as independent contractors, you still may have opportunities to recover compensation when an Uber driver injures you. Call us today to discuss your case.
If I’m riding with a driver for Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar, $1 million in liability coverage is plenty, right?
Maybe, maybe not. For most traffic accident injuries, $1 million in coverage is plenty. That is not always true, of course. Further, many smaller ridesharing services don’t provide their drivers with insurance, and just require them to have commercial riders on their personal auto liability policy. Coverage requirements differ and could easily be inadequate.
Even for the big three rideshare companies that provide their drivers with liability insurance, many types of serious injuries typical in automobile accidents can be long-term or even life-long and result in medical costs that could easily exhaust a $1 million policy limit.
Among the kinds of injuries that could result in care requirements sufficient to exceed a $1 million policy limit are:
- Brain and head injuries are extremely common in traffic accidents, and they can be among the worst possible injuries in a car crash. Traumatic brain injuries can range from relatively minor concussions to serious injuries that result in the need for expensive lifelong continued care and permanent disabilities.
- Neck injuries, also a frequent result in traffic accidents, can range from generally minor muscle strains or whiplash all the way to disc damage or dislocation. Such disc injuries often are more severe and could require specialized treatment.
- Spinal cord injuries also are a common traffic accident injury. Such injuries can lead to paralysis or other long-term disabilities. These injuries also have the potential for requiring extensive—and expensive—treatment.
- Internal Injuries – Car accidents are violent events, even at relatively low speeds, and the human body is a fragile thing. Even with seat belts and airbags, your body will get tossed around in a car accident, and you are unlikely to have airbags in the back seat of a rideshare vehicle. Broken glass and other objects can take flight, parts of the vehicle can be crushed into you by the impact, the vehicle in which you are riding could go into a roll or even be forced into further impacts with other vehicles. The injuries that can result from such a violent event are myriad. You might get away with a little soreness, or scrapes and bruises. You also could lose limbs, wind up in a coma, or suffer internal injuries, among a long list of injuries that could be life-threatening or result in long hospitalizations and major surgeries. A million dollars can disappear pretty quickly under such circumstances.
Ridesharing traffic accidents aren’t special. They come with no magic protections. Just as can happen with any other accident, you could suffer major injuries so serious that your medical care and other damages exceed the limits of any liability coverage the rideshare driver has available. If that coverage is not enough to cover your damages, you should contact an attorney to explore your options.
Call Our Atlanta Uber Accident Attorneys Today
All motor vehicle accidents can result in serious injuries and property damage. What makes Uber ridesharing accidents different, however, is that there may be several insurance companies involved. For example, the at-fault driver’s personal insurance policy may come into play, along with the Uber corporate policy. In addition, the accident victim’s own insurance policy may come into play in some instances. Moreover, it can sometimes be difficult to determine who was at fault for the accident, as well as which insurance policy or policies are available to satisfy the accident victim’s damages in the case.
Keep in mind that the at-fault party’s insurance company is never on your side. Insurance companies have one goal: to save themselves money by paying out as little as possible for your claim. In fact, they may go so far as to claim that you were partially at fault for your accident and attempt to reduce your settlement offer as a result. For these reasons, if you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an accident that involved an Uber vehicle, you need a team of lawyers on your side who is familiar with litigating these types of cases.
The skilled legal team at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm has the knowledge and skill to effectively and efficiently file a personal injury claim on your behalf and pursue the compensation that you need.
To schedule a free case evaluation and legal consultation with a skilled Atlanta Uber accident attorney, please call us at (404) 418-8244 or contact us online to learn more.