Uber was founded in 2009. Its counterpart Lyft came on the scene just a few years later in 2012. Since then, both companies have gone public with valuations over 20 billion. It’s true that both companies struggle to become profitable, but all of that investor money has to count for something, right? Can I sue Uber (or Lyft) for my ride-share accident?
The answer is complicated. Here’s some good news up front: you can certainly receive damages after a ride-share accident. The question of where this money will come from, and who you have to deal with to get it involves a number of factors.
To understand how all of this works, let’s get one thing straight:
Uber doesn’t want you to sue them
Neither does Lyft, for that matter. Both companies have gone to great lengths to avoid liability and payouts to injured parties. For now, let’s focus on Uber.
Uber has insurance for the same reason you might have auto insurance: to avoid out-of-pocket payouts for the injured party’s medical expenses, property damage, and more. In many cases, if you’ve been injured by an Uber driver, you will file an insurance claim against Uber.
Here’s the thing about insurance: contrary to what insurance companies might say, they aren’t there to help you during situations like these. In fact, insurance companies will try to shortchange you every chance they get.
Here’s how Uber’s insurance policy works
The amount of insurance money you can draw on depends on what the driver was doing when the accident happened. Were they driving a passenger? Were they “off the clock?” These differences can make all the difference for your claim.
Driver is “off the clock.” Their app is off or offline.
This happens when the driver is not using Uber. In this case, any accident the Uber driver causes will be covered by their personal insurance company. Luckily, many states require drivers to have insurance.
Georgia requires drivers to have auto insurance covering $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage at minimum. This doesn’t mean everyone will follow the law and have auto insurance, but it does mean that most drivers on the road will be covered.
In the case of Uber drivers, they are independent contractors. This means that even if the car involved in the accident had an “Uber” sticker on it, Uber’s insurance might not cover the accident. When the driver’s app is off, you are relying on the driver’s insurance, not Uber’s.
Driver is “on the clock,” waiting for a ride request.
The driver could be driving around town using the Uber app, but they are not en route to pick up passengers or transporting passengers. In this case, the driver is still using their own insurance. In the case of an accident, Uber adds on some contingency insurance.
Driver is “on the clock,” going to pick up passengers or transporting passengers.
Uber doesn’t skimp on their insurance policy in these scenarios. If you are injured as a passenger, 1 million dollars in liability and property coverage is available to you. If you are a pedestrian or third party driver who was involved in an accident in this scenario, you may be entitled to the full amount of coverage as well.
Keep in mind that Uber’s insurance company will explore every reason not to pay you your fair share of compensation. Before you pursue a claim with a large company like Uber and their insurance company, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney for representation.
I’m an Uber passenger that was injured in a car accident. Can I sue Uber?
Yes. First and foremost, as the passenger, you will not be found at fault for the accident. In these cases, your claim will typically be with Uber itself, not the Uber driver. This is because Uber’s insurance policy is at its best for passengers.
A driver who is on their way to pick up passengers or completing a trip is covered by the company’s 1 million dollar third-party liability insurance. That “third party” is you. In other words, Uber’s insurance will pay up to 1 million dollars in damages to an injured party.
Here’s the catch: for the 1 million dollar policy to apply, the Uber driver’s app must indicate they were driving to pick up passengers or completing a trip.
It’s safe to say that corporate insurance will do everything in their power to pay you as little of that 1 million dollars as possible. That is why consulting a personal injury lawyer is so important.
I’m a pedestrian that was hit by an Uber driver. Can I sue Uber?
Yes, you can. However, you may be found partially liable if the accident was caused (in part) by negligent actions such as jaywalking.
The way your attorney would go about a lawsuit depends on the status of the Uber, as outlined above. Here’s how those different statuses would affect your accident:
If the driver was off the clock, your attorney would sue the driver, not Uber.
If the driver was transporting a passenger, Uber’s 1 million in coverage should apply to you, too.
In cases where there is no passenger, such as when the driver is between fares, Uber’s contingency insurance can make up the difference between damages received from the driver’s insurance and damages owed.
While driving, I was in an accident caused by an Uber driver. Can I sue Uber?
This scenario works similarly to pedestrian accidents (see above.) As another driver, you may be found partially at fault. Still, depending on the details, you could be entitled to Uber’s 1 million dollars of third party liability coverage.
It’s complicated, we get it. Talk to a lawyer for free.
If you’ve been a victim of a ride-share accident, you don’t have to go through this alone. Anita Lamar is an experienced ride-share accident attorney located in Atlanta, Georgia. Call Lamar Law Office at 877-CARE-404 and get the clarity you need about your ride-share accident and your potential damages.