Whether they are looking for a ride home from a night out or a lift to the airport, people in the Cleveland area are increasingly turning to ride-sharing companies like Uber as an alternative to taxis or public transportation. If you are unfamiliar with Uber, it is a transportation network that essentially operates like an unregulated taxicab service. Through the company’s phone app, an individual in need of transportation can connect to a ride-sharing driver, typically an average motorist looking to make a few extra dollars. Upon receiving an Uber request, the driver will use his own personal vehicle to pick up and transport the Uber user to his destination. The user, though, pays his fare directly to Uber via the phone app.
So who is liable if one of these semi-professional Uber drivers cause a motor vehicle accident? Under Ohio law, those injured by an Uber driver’s negligence can pursue personal injury claims against both Uber and the individual driver. The good news for injured drivers and passengers is that, according to Uber, its $1 million per incident insurance policy provides coverage from the point a trip is accepted until it is ended. This coverage limit is higher than most personal liability policies. Moreover, Uber’s insurance policy is expressly primary to a driver’s personal insurance policy, which means that motor vehicle accident victims should be able to avoid some insurance coverage disputes that can arise when there are multiple policies in place.
For Uber drivers, issues of personal insurance coverage remain murky. Most personal automobile insurance policies contain exclusions relating to incidents that occur while the covered vehicle is being used for commercial purposes. Drivers involved in accidents pre-trip, i.e., on the way to pick up an Uber user, may find themselves at odds with their insurers over whether their policy provides coverage. If you are one of the many Uber drivers in the area, you should consult your insurer about the extent of your liability coverage.
Ultimately, a motor vehicle accident involving an Uber driver involves the same dangers, financial losses, and insurance negotiation headaches as any other crash. In the aftermath of a traffic accident, you need an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney on your side to make sure that you receive fair compensation for your physical suffering, property damage, and financial loss.