Can I File a Lawsuit Against Uber For an Accident?
Uber is one of the premier ride-sharing services across the globe. The company provides a valuable service while making it possible for its contractors to earn extra cash.
Uber screens its drivers and requires them to carry insurance. Unfortunately, Uber can’t always watch them and make sure they consistently drive safely. At times, this limitation can lead to terrible tragedies, like the 2013 incident in which an Uber driver struck and killed a 6-year-old.
Uber’s record for integrity and honesty is mixed. But suing the company itself is unlikely to succeed. That’s because all Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees.
What’s the difference?
An independent contractor is a self-employed individual who has a contractual relationship with a larger company. The parent firm pays the contractor an agreed-upon rate for services provided.
In Uber’s case, the service is driving fare-paying passengers to where they need to go. The business model is similar to that of a traditional taxicab service, except that drivers use their own vehicles.
Uber fills a distinct need that has long gone unmet in many parts of the country. Taxicab companies are rare outside of large urban environments. Even in major cities, many people prefer to use either Uber or Lyft, whether for convenience or as a way to save on costs.
Are Uber drivers really independent contractors and not employees?
As of March 2019, the answer is a firm “yes.” Uber was in court for six years fighting a lawsuit brought by drivers. The plaintiffs claimed that the company falsely designated them as independent contractors when, in fact, they performed the same duties as regular employees.
In the 2019 final settlement, Uber agreed to pay out $20 million and adjust its policies to reflect its drivers’ independent contractor status.
For Uber passengers and the rest of us, this means that any damages suffered while being transported must be paid for by the driver and his or her insurer, not by Uber itself.
Uber drivers are insured
Uber mandates auto insurance for all its contractors. The company provides up to $1 million in coverage for accidents that occur while the driver is carrying a client.
Uber also covers its drivers whenever the Uber app is activated on the contractor’s phone, although the coverage limits are lower if the driver was not fulfilling a ride request at the time.
The bottom line is this: if you suffered an injury or loss of property caused by an Uber driver, then your best recourse is to file a claim with the appropriate insurance company.
Having said that, we want to stress that it’s still important to contact an auto accident attorney any time you’re involved in a car collision. Here’s why:
- Insurance companies are in business for their own sake, not for yours: Their goal is to make as much profit as possible. This, in turn, means minimizing expenses, like payouts to accident victims for example. Fighting back against their high-pressure tactics takes the skills of a personal injury lawyer.
- Every accident has unseen factors: For example, auto accidents are sometimes caused by safety defects in the vehicles themselves. Investigating these angles is a job best left to legal professionals.
- Being an accident victim is lonely sometimes: It’s much easier to face the challenges to come when there’s someone in your corner cheering you on. That’s the kind of emotional support and personal regard you can expect from the car accident lawyers here at Ellis Injury Law. We treat people like human beings, not like case numbers.
Get in touch with us here at Ellis Injury Law today if we can help you in any way. Consultations are free and we’re available 24/7. We look forward to hearing from you.