As “ride sharing” or “ride hailing” apps continue to expand across the country, traffic crashes involving Uber and Lyft drivers are increasing. Passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists injured by careless drivers often find it difficult to sort out liability in the
aftermath of an Uber accident. These accidents can involve many difficult questions. Who is liable? Whose insurance policy provides coverage? Where should a lawsuit should be filed against an out-of-state company? Are a ride sharing company’s drivers employees or independent contractors?
With these and so many other questions arising from Uber and Lyft accidents, there are several important factors that your attorney will consider when contemplating a lawsuit.
Did the Uber Accident Injure a Passenger, Motorist, or Pedestrian?
Like all motorists, Uber and Lyft drivers have an obligation to drive safely at all times. Anyone injured by their negligence may be entitled to compensation. This includes passengers who have hailed the ride, other motorists sharing the roadways, pedestrians, bicyclists, and property owners.
Are Uber Drivers Employees or Independent Contractors?
The extent of an employer’s liability for the actions of its employees is different than the extent of a company’s liability for the actions of independent contractors acting on the company’s behalf. In the past few years, the employment status of Uber drivers has been disputed.
Earlier this year, Uber settled two class action lawsuits brought by drivers. Part of the settlement allowed Uber to—at least for now—continue classifying drivers as independent contractors. In the UK, however, an October 2016 ruling determined that drivers in that country are considered employees.
The ultimate status of drivers is likely still in limbo, and new case law or regulations may soon change how drivers’ employment status is determined.
Is There Adequate Insurance?
Under Ohio law, an Uber driver must carry a defined minimum amount of insurance coverage. Uber alsoclaims to provide coverage for accidents that occur while a driver is transporting a passenger.
Questions can arise, though, when dealing with multiple policies. An Uber accident lawyer must determine which policy was in effect at the time of an accident. Issues may arise if an Uber driver causes injuries or death while on the way to pick up a passenger, or while on the road waiting to be hailed. There can also be disputes regarding the priority of the applicable policies. Will the driver’s personal policy or Uber’s policy be required to pay the first dollars toward compensation for injuries?
Are Multiple Parties Liable?
When your Uber driver is only partially responsible for your injuries, the matter of insurance coverage can become even more complicated. Despite adequate insurance on the part of your driver, Uber accidents may also involve parties who are underinsured or uninsured. This can, in turn, trigger an injured party’s own automobile coverage policy, creating an insurance web too complicated to handle without the assistance of experienced counsel.
Did Uber Properly Vet Its Driver?
Ride sharing companies’ lax requirements to become a driver have made headlines again and again. While many Uber drivers are capable on the road, some drivers have records of bad driving that should preclude them from driving professionally. If Uber, Lyft, or any other company could or should have discovered that a driver had an unreasonably bad driving record, they may be subject to additional liability or damages.
Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA—Cleveland Uber Accident Lawyers
If you or your loved one were injured as the result of a negligent Uber or Lyft driver, you need the help of an experienced attorney. Call Lowe Eklund Wakefield today for a free consultation.
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