Uber and other ride-sharing services have changed the way we travel. As these services provide affordability, reliability, and convenience, people across Texas have begun using them. However, Ubers are motor vehicles like any other, which means that accidents due to negligence can occur.
In October 2018, an Austin couple were leaving their hotel and requested an Uber to pick them up. They later alleged that when the driver arrived, they smelled alcohol and observed erratic behavior. As soon as the driver pulled out of the parking lot, the car was hit, breaking two bones in the wife’s back and leaving the husband with severe whiplash and abdominal bruising. They filed a lawsuit claiming that the driver, who had a DWI conviction on her record, was both intoxicated and distracted by her phone.
If you’re in a similar rideshare accident, the process of seeking compensation is a lot less straightforward than with a regular car crash. In this blog, the Austin Uber accident lawyers at Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS explain how to sue Uber for accidents and what goes into determining Uber accident settlements.
Getting an Uber Accident Settlement Can Be Challenging
Most Uber accidents involve a driver who was negligent or driving recklessly. If one of their drivers hits or injures you, Uber’s insurance will cover your injuries and damages: the rideshare company carries $1 million in liability insurance, and there are provisions in the policy that cover passengers, other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
However, don’t assume that because Uber has insurance, they are going to pay you willingly. Like all insurers, its provider makes a profit by collecting premiums while paying accident victims as little as possible.
In Texas, Uber accident claims are usually handled by Progressive, the third largest insurance carrier and one of the biggest commercial auto insurers in the United States. Claims adjusters may pressure you to accept a settlement that won’t meet your future financial needs, or try to discourage you by taking a long time to process the claim. They may even try to get you to give them a recorded statement that can later be used against you.
Instead of attempting an Uber settlement on your own, contact a local rideshare accident lawyer who can help you determine if you have grounds for a personal injury claim. In addition, if you need to file a claim with the driver’s insurance company or Uber itself, an attorney will help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Uber Accidents
Uber accidents happen for a variety of reasons. Some of them can happen to any motor vehicle operator while others are unique to the ridesharing industry. They include but may not be limited to:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to maintain their vehicle
- Hurrying to meet tight timelines for each ride
- Rushing to finish one ride so they can accept another
- Chatting and interacting with passengers
Fortunately, most Uber rides end with passengers safely reaching their destination, but accidents still happen. According to Uber’s Safety Report for 2019-2020, there were 101 fatal crashes involving its vehicles during that two-year period. Fourteen Uber drivers, 19 passengers, 17 motorcyclists, 18 third-party drivers, and eight third-party pedestrians were killed, along with 23 pedestrians and three bicyclists.
How to Sue Uber for Accidents
If you’re in an accident involving an Uber, take the following steps, even if you think you didn’t suffer any injuries. In the immediate aftermath, you may be too full of adrenaline to feel any pain, or you may have injuries that don’t manifest symptoms until days later. These measures will be your first step in suing Uber for your injuries.
- Report The Accident: An Uber accident should be reported to the company immediately in order to benefit from Uber’s generous insurance policy. You’ll also want to contact the police, as the report can serve as valuable evidence when you file an accident injury claim.
- Document the Scene: Use your phone to take photos and video of the accident scene. Capture anything that might have contributed to the crash, such as a pothole, slippery road, or malfunctioning traffic light.
- Get Contact Information: Be sure to take down the names of anyone else involved in the accident: drivers, injured parties, and witnesses, at the very least. You’ll also want to get the insurance details of the other driver.
- Seek Medical Assistance: If you have visible injuries after the accident, go to the hospital in an ambulance. If not, go to the emergency room or see your doctor as soon as possible. You’ll need a medical record of your injuries to get your claim started. Uber may argue that you did not sustain a serious injury if you did not report it.
- Ask for a Trip Verification: Your compensation will depend on the Uber driver’s status during the crash. Were they logged into the Uber app at the time of the crash? Had they accepted a ride? The answers will dictate whether the driver’s insurer is responsible for compensating you or Uber.
- Do Not Accept a Settlement Offer: After you send your trip verification information to Uber, its insurance company may contact you and offer you a small settlement. Uber wants you to sign a waiver freeing it from further liability before you realize how serious your injuries are. Don’t accept a settlement that doesn’t cover all of your damages. Uber has liability coverage of up to $1 million: the company IS capable of paying more than what it’s offering you.
- Contact a Car Accident Lawyer: If you are injured in an Uber accident, a rideshare accident lawyer can prepare a claim and negotiate the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other losses. If the insurer does not offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can take your case to court and seek a favorable verdict for you.
When Can You Sue Uber?
If your Uber accident and injuries were caused by someone else, you are entitled to seek compensation from that party. Whether Uber will be responsible for paying your damages will depend on the driver’s status at the time of the crash.
Uber’s insurance company will only compensate you if the driver was working when the vehicle struck you. You will need to file a claim against the driver or their insurance provider if they were not logged into the app.
The Uber driver’s insurance coverage will still be the primary source of compensation if the driver is logged into the Uber app and looking for passengers. You can file a claim under Uber’s policy for benefits if your damages exceed what their insurance will cover. In this instance, Uber will cover bodily injury up to $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, as well as property damage up to $25,000.
Once the driver accepts a ride request or has a passenger in their vehicle, Uber’s $1 million insurance policy takes effect. It covers damages that occur from the moment the ride request is accepted until the passenger departs the vehicle.
Uber and its legal counsel may take any steps necessary to deny responsibility and liability. By hiring a lawyer experienced in Uber accident claims, you will be in a better position to win your case.
Do Injured Uber Passengers Have Different Rights in Texas Than an Injured Motorist?
There may be differences between the outcomes for passengers and drivers in Uber accident lawsuits. As a general rule, an Uber accident is never the fault of the passenger. Therefore, in many cases, a passenger has a better case than a driver. Although their claim value can be reduced if they weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, they can still recover significant compensation if they were badly injured.
A driver, however, may be at fault for an Uber car accident. In this case, the driver’s case value is reduced by their percentage of fault. In Texas, a driver may not recover compensation if they are 51% or more at fault, which is why it’s so important to retain an experienced attorney.
What Is the Average Uber Accident Settlement Worth?
Every case is different, and there are a number of factors that can affect Uber accident settlements: for this reason, there is no average amount you can expect to receive. When serious injuries are involved, past settlements and verdicts from Uber accident lawsuits have ranged from hundreds of thousands of dollars to over one million.
Below is an overview of the variables that will influence the value of your accident settlement or Uber accident lawsuit.
- The severity of your injuries. A large part of your settlement will be determined by the medical records and treatments you received after your injuries. You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident so that you will have good medical records when you file your lawsuit.
- Current and future rehabilitation and medical costs. This includes doctor’s visits, surgeries, prescription medication, and physical therapy.
- Loss of income and/or future earning capacity. If the accident left you permanently disabled, your settlement will take into account the lost income you could reasonably have been expected to receive.
- Pain and suffering. In order to calculate pain and suffering, it is common to add up a claimant’s medical bills from their car accident injuries and multiply them by 1.5 on the low end, and 4 or 5 on the high end.
Depending on how badly injured you are, your case may be worth more than Uber’s insurance limit. This is often the case if the driver is logged in and waiting for a ride request, but has not yet picked up a passenger. There is a $50,000 bodily injury liability limit in this case. When an Uber driver is at fault and an injured victim undergoes surgery, the case usually exceeds this amount, especially if multiple surgeries are involved.
Uber’s insurance limit is harder to exceed if the driver is en route to pick up riders or during a trip. In this case, Uber’s $1 million insurance limit covers your injuries. It’s likely you’ll need several surgeries or a traumatic brain injury to reach this limit. Wrongful death cases, on the other hand, often exceed Uber’s $1 million liability limit.
It is important that you speak with an attorney about how much your Uber accident settlement might be worth. You will be able to save time and money by settling out of court. However, if your attorney believes you’re being offered a settlement that is too low, you may have to go to court in order to get the money you need.
Get an Attorney’s Help With Your Uber Accident Settlement
The first step in determining your Uber accident settlement is to get a good lawyer. Each Uber accident is unique: some result from reckless actions like DUI or distracted driving or while others happen despite the driver’s best efforts to avoid them.
No matter what caused the accident, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the Uber accident settlement process. Dealing with insurance companies can be exhausting, especially since they don’t have your best interests in mind. A Texas Uber accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve for injuries, medical bills, time off work, and property damage.
Get a Free Consultation With a Texas Uber Accident Lawyer
Generally, Uber crashes in Texas are no different from other auto accidents. Making a claim for compensation requires detailed documentation of your injuries. However, Uber has earned a reputation for making it difficult to get the money you deserve, so you may have to seek legal guidance.
At the Villarreal & Begum, LAW GUNS, our San Antonio Uber passenger lawyers have the skills and experience you need to get maximum compensation for your damages. We have helped Uber passengers recover the money they need, and can also help if you were driving your own car when an Uber hit you. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us if we win your case. To schedule a free consultation, please contact us today.