Billings Uber Accident Attorney
In the aftermath of being injured in an accident involving an Uber vehicle, it is important that victims are able to recover compensation from any at-fault party. This includes the Uber driver if they were negligent in any way. However, determining whether or not you can file a lawsuit against Uber is difficult, particularly when it comes to the status of their drivers.
Are Uber Drivers Employees or Contractors?
One of the most defining aspects, and perhaps one of the most controversial, of being an Uber driver is that these rideshare drivers or not employees of Uber. Most people do not spend a lot of time thinking about the employment status of their Uber driver. Those who need a ride just want to get from point A to point B. However, Uber drivers are technically independent contractors, not employees, which has significant implications when it comes to whether or not Uber can be held liable in the aftermath of an accident.
In most cases, if a person is struck and injured by a negligent driver who is operating a commercial vehicle, the company who owns the vehicle can be held liable. In these situations, you will hear the term “vicarious liability” being used. This means that a company can be held liable for the actions of their employees if the employee was acting within the scope of their work duties when they caused an injury to another person. For example, commercial trucking companies can usually be held liable if their employee (the truck driver) causes a crash.
However, since Uber drivers are independent contractors, vicarious liability will typically not apply.
How does Uber’s insurance work after an accident?
That does not mean that those injured in a crash involving an Uber vehicle have no recourse when it comes to securing compensation. However, these situations can become incredibly confusing and there will likely be a few insurance carriers involved.
- If an Uber driver causes an accident while they are not signed into the Uber “app” to work, then they are off duty, and any injury or property damage expenses will be handled through their personal insurance carrier.
- If an Uber driver causes an accident while they are signed into the Uber “app,” but does not have a passenger, then their personal insurance carrier is still going to bear primary responsibility for property and injury expenses. Uber does provide limited coverage in this situation, but only if the personal insurance carrier denies a claim or if insurance limits are exhausted.
- If an Uber driver is signed into the Uber “app” to work and has a passenger (or has been alerted to a fare and is on the way to pick a passenger up) when a crash occurs, then Uber has a $1 million liability policy that is supposed to kick in and cover anybody involved in the crash.
Causes of Uber accidents and the injuries
Accidents involving Uber vehicles can happen in a variety of ways, similar to any other car accident in Montana. In many cases, an Uber accident can occur because a driver fails to follow traffic laws. This can include speeding, failing to yield, failing to stop, not using a turn signal, and more. Accidents can also happen due to impaired driving behavior, whether on the part of the Uber driver or another driver on the roadway.
We also need to point out that there is a higher likelihood of an Uber accident being caused by distracted driving behavior. Uber drivers, like other rideshare drivers, rely heavily on their phones as part of their operation. This includes them receiving alerts as to when they need to pick up a passenger, other alerts from Uber, and more. Drivers have to touch their phones regularly while they are behind the wheel, whether to accept a fare or to use their GPS navigation system. Anytime a driver takes their eyes off the roadway to focus on a phone or another device, they are much more likely to cause an accident.
Injuries caused by an Uber accident can be severe. While most car accident injuries are relatively minor, it is important to point out that even minor injuries can lead to major medical expenses and time away from work for a victim. However, it is also not uncommon for the following injuries to occur in an Uber accident:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken or dislocated bones
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Whiplash injuries
- Severe lacerations
- and more
Victims of Uber accidents could also sustain severe emotional and psychological trauma as a result of their injuries and from the incident itself. This can include a victim having feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, and depression. It is not uncommon for victims of severe car accidents to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Do you need an attorney for these cases?
The aftermath of any car accident can be confusing, and this is particularly true when it comes to an accident involving an Uber vehicle. With the various insurance carriers that may be involved in this case, it is important that an injury victim seek assistance from an attorney as soon as possible. Most people injured in a car accident do not have the resources necessary to conduct a full investigation into their case. However, a Montana Uber accident attorney will have the resources available to:
- Obtain all evidence related to the case, including any available video or photo surveillance, accident reports, Uber app data, eyewitness statements, and more.
- Work with a trusted medical professional to ensure their client is taken care of and that their total expenses are properly calculated.
- Negotiate with all parties involved in order to obtain fair compensation for their injured client.
How will comparative negligence law affect an Uber accident case?
In many cases, car accidents in this state are caused by one or more parties. When this occurs, it is important to understand that even those who are partially at fault for an accident can recover compensation. Montana operates under what is called a modified comparative negligence system. This means that a plaintiff (injury victim) can recover compensation after a car accident as long as they were not more than 50% at fault for the accident.
However, the amount of compensation a person receives in this situation will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. If someone is a passenger in an Uber vehicle accident occurs, they will likely not have any fault for the incident. However, how they receive compensation may revolve around comparative negligence laws, particularly if the Uber driver and another driver both contributed to the incident.
If you are in another vehicle and involved in an accident with an Uber driver, then compare fault may also be used to determine compensation. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 after being struck by an Uber vehicle, but it is determined that you were 20% at fault for the incident, then you would only receive $8,000 in total damages.
What kind of compensation is available?
In the aftermath of being involved in an accident with an Uber vehicle, there may be various types of compensation available to injury victims. While the total amount of compensation awarded in each case will differ depending on the facts related to each particular situation, it is not uncommon for injury victims to receive:
- Coverage of all medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits if they cannot work
- Property damage expense recovery
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
If you do file a personal injury lawsuit
In the event that the insurance carriers in these cases deny a claim or do not offer a fair settlement, it may be possible for an injury victim to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver is the Uber driver, then they will be the one facing the personal injury lawsuit, not Uber. Remember, Uber drivers are independent contractors, so their actions are their own, even if they are on-duty and driving a passenger to their location. In Montana, car accident victims have three years from the date their injury occurs to file a lawsuit against an alleged negligent driver. Failure to file a lawsuit within this three year statute of limitations window will result in the victim being unable to recover compensation for their losses.
Contact a Billings Uber Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been victimized in a rideshare accident, our attorneys are here to help. Our law firm offers free initial consultations, and we have the experience, dedication and expertise required to take on your case. To contact our personal injury attorneys, call (406) 839-9091 or feel free to get in touch with us through our online contact form.