In the not-too-distant past, if you needed a ride somewhere, the only option was to ask a loved one or call a taxi cab. Today, technology has enabled us to get a ride with just a few taps on our phones.
Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies have certainly “disrupted” the transportation industry. While there are a lot of benefits to being able to get a ride in almost any location in Massachusetts, there are disadvantages as well. Because Uber has relatively few requirements for drivers, it can put passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers at risk.
Filing an insurance claim for an Uber accident can also be complicated, given that the driver may be covered by their own policy or by Uber’s based on what they were doing at the time. If you were involved in a car accident with an Uber or another rideshare company, an experienced Worcester personal injury lawyer can help you negotiate the tricking process of filing an insurance claim.
Whose Insurance Policy Applies in a Massachusetts Uber Accident?
Uber accidents are different from many other types of motor vehicle crashes. If you are involved in a collision with someone who is driving their own vehicle on their personal time, you can simply file a claim against their insurance company. However, if you are in an accident involving an Uber driver, there may be some question as to which insurance policy applies.
Uber does have a commercial liability insurance policy that covers its drivers. As an injury victim, you may be able to access this policy depending on what the at-fault driver was doing at the time of the accident:
- Offline/driver app off: The driver’s personal insurance policy applies.
- Driver available or waiting for a ride request: Uber insurance applies if the driver’s personal policy does not cover the accident.
- During trips and en route to pick up riders: Uber’s policy applies.
These distinctions are important because Uber’s commercial automobile insurance policy will likely have a much higher limit than the driver’s personal car insurance policy.
- Bodily injury: $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
- Personal injury protection: $8,000 per person, per accident
- Bodily injury caused by an uninsured vehicle (uninsured motorist coverage): $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
- Property damage: $5,000 per accident
These limits are fairly low and could be exhausted if you suffer anything more than a minor injury in an Uber accident. Fortunately, Massachusetts enacted a law that requires ridesharing drivers (also referred to as transportation network drivers) to carry a higher level of certain types of insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury: $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident
- Property damage: $30,000 per accident
In addition, Massachusetts requires transportation network companies (TNC) like Uber to carry their own commercial insurance policy. Uber’s insurance policy covers up to:
- $1,000,000 third-party liability
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury
- Contingent comprehensive and collision, up to actual cash value of the vehicle
Because Uber’s liability coverage limits are much higher than the limits that most drivers carry, there is a better chance of being fully compensated for their losses if they are able to file a claim against the company’s policy, rather than the driver’s insurance.
Uber drivers in Massachusetts are considered independent contractors, rather than employees. This is important because employers have greater responsibility for employees, and can often be held accountable for their employees’ work-related negligence. A skilled Worcester car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you of your options for pursuing a claim against Uber for a motor vehicle accident.
Filing a Claim against Uber
If you have been injured in an Uber accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. The company then requests that you file a report through its website, ideally with the assistance of an attorney. Uber will then investigate the accident to determine (1) which insurance policy applies; and (2) who was responsible for the accident.
Uber may accept responsibility for the crash if it is clear that their driver was at fault. The standard for determining fault in Massachusetts car accident cases is typically negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. An Uber driver may be negligent in any number of ways, from texting while driving to speeding to running a red light.
If Uber refuses to accept responsibility for your losses, then the next step may be to file a personal injury claim with the insurance carriers. Through this process, you may be able to recover compensation for your losses, or damages. This may include things such as:
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
Your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance company. If the insurers fail to offer you a fair settlement, then the next step may be to file a civil lawsuit. Typically, settlement negotiations will continue as the parties prepare for trial.
If your case does go to trial, each side will have the opportunity to make arguments, present evidence, and question witnesses. The judge or jury will then render a verdict as to who was responsible for the accident and what damages (if any) you should receive. Your car accident attorney can help you determine if going to trial is the best course of action for you.
If My Car Was Hit by an Uber driver, Can I Sue the Company?
Depending on what the driver was doing at the time of the collision, you may be able to file a claim against Uber. Specifically, if the driver was waiting for a ride or driving a passenger at the time of the crash, you can likely access Uber’s insurance policy – whether you were a passenger, driving another vehicle, or were otherwise harmed by the accident. Otherwise, you may be limited to the driver’s personal insurance policy.
There may be other options for pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against Uber. Although the company classifies its drivers as independent contractors in an attempt to avoid this type of liability, you may still be able to file a claim against it in certain circumstances. For example, if Uber failed to enforce its qualification requirements for drivers or hired a driver with a history of DUI charges, that may be the basis for a lawsuit against them.
I Was in a Crash in an Uber, But Another Driver Was Responsible. Who Is Liable?
As a general rule, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay for your injuries when you are in a car accident. However, there are situations where Uber’s insurance policy may apply, even if its driver wasn’t at fault.
Specifically, if the other driver does not have car insurance – or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your losses – then Uber’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) may cover your losses. In this way, you can still be compensated for your injuries even if the at-fault driver did not have sufficient insurance coverage.
Can I Settle My Uber Accident Claim Without a Lawyer?
If you are in an Uber accident, the company may accept responsibility and offer to pay you for your losses. While it may be tempting to simply accept their settlement and move forward with your life, this can often backfire. For example, if your injuries don’t get better over time and you require additional medical treatment, you may find yourself without enough money to cover those medical expenses.
Both Uber and its insurer are for-profit entities. Their goal is not to make sure that you get paid the maximum compensation for your losses, but to minimize what they pay you to stay profitable. A seasoned Worcester car accident attorney will advocate for you and work to get you the best possible recovery.
Hurt in an Uber Accident? We Can Help.
Being in any type of traffic accident can be incredibly traumatic. When the collision involves a rideshare driver, it can make the situation that much more challenging as you try to figure out how to file an insurance claim. Our law firm is here to help.
With nearly 40 years of experience, attorney Peter Ventura has the legal knowledge and experience to help his clients achieve the best possible result for their case. He will work hard to help you recover the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call our law office today at 508-755-7535, or fill out our online contact form.