Ridesharing is exploding worldwide, and Uber is at the head of the pack. The company currently controls about 67 percent of the American rideshare market. Uber far outpaces its closest domestic competitor, Lyft, and its global reach is growing, with 91 million monthly active users and 3.9 million drivers in 63 countries worldwide and an average of 14 million trips completed each day.
But the sharp rise of the rideshare industry has brought with it an increase in the number of rideshare-related accidents and other serious incidents. A study from the University of Chicago and Rice University found that the widespread expansion of ridesharing has increased domestic traffic deaths by 2 to 3 percent since 2011, the equivalent of 1,100 fatalities each year. In particular, Uber has been involved in a number of high-profile matters in which accusations of negligence have been levied against the company.
If you have been injured by or in an Uber vehicle in the Burr Ridge area, you might be eligible for financial compensation. For a no-cost, no-obligation consultation, contact the Burr Ridge Uber accident lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, where we have been maximizing settlements and verdicts on behalf of wrongfully injured clients for more than four decades. You can call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative.
High-Profile Uber Incidents Nationwide
Uber accidents that result in injury fall into one of three categories:
- Passengers who are injured while traveling in an Uber vehicle.
- Other motorists and pedestrians who are injured when an Uber driver is at fault.
- Uber drivers who are injured when another motorist is at fault.
Many high-profile incidents involving Uber have gained notoriety nationwide, including traffic accidents and incidents involving other forms of negligence:
- In August 2016, Uber reached an undisclosed settlement with the family of a six-year-old girl who was killed by an Uber driver while she walking with her brother and mother in a crosswalk in San Francisco.
- In January 2017, a 24-year-old college student in Dallas filed suit against Uber for its failure to screen its drivers adequately. She had been paralyzed from the chest down when her Uber was T-boned by a pickup truck at an intersection when her driver ran a red light.
- In August 2017, an Uber driver in Chicago was charged with reckless homicide for his role in a multi-vehicle collision.
- In March 2018, a “self-driving” Uber in Tempe, AZ struck and killed a pedestrian. The company shut down its test program after the incident, with experts claiming that defects in Uber’s autonomous technology may have been at fault.
- Additionally, at least 103 Uber drivers in America have been accused of sexually abusing or assaulting their passengers.
These types of Uber incidents are becoming all too common, so much so that many critics have argued that the job itself may encourage drivers to take unnecessary risks in order to maximize their compensation.
How Uber Can Put You in Jeopardy
Uber drivers transport passengers in their personal vehicles, with the company sharing the revenues earned from the trips with them. Though driver pay is calculated by distance, the total payment per shift is predominantly determined by the number of rides an Uber driver can complete per shift. This system of compensation may unintentionally encourage Uber drivers to disregard traffic laws in order to increase their earning capacity, including by speeding. This can increase the likelihood of auto accidents that result in injury for the drivers, their passengers, and others in the area. Because they need to use smartphones to navigate and find fares, Uber drivers could be more prone to distraction than other motorists, further increasing the rate of serious accidents.
Critics have argued that Uber drivers may not have the same level of safety training as professional taxi and limo operators. Further, legal actions across the country suggest that the rideshare industry has problems with screening drivers at large. In 2017, the State of Massachusetts took more than 8,000 rideshare drivers off the road after it passed more stringent vetting rules. As for Uber specifically, it employs a private third-party service to run background checks, not a system that incorporates fingerprinting or the involvement of law enforcement. Uber drivers can start the pre-screening process online using only a social security number, a driver’s license, a vehicle, and a non-violent criminal background. While Uber says it does not accept drivers with recent DUIs, charges of reckless driving, or serious speeding violations, some have noted that the company’s system has approved drivers with felony records, putting passengers in danger of becoming victims of battery, robbery, kidnapping, and sexual assault.
In fact, Uber has recently been named as the defendant in a class-action lawsuit over its alleged vetting deficiencies. Two female plaintiffs are trying to force the company to change its vetting practices for all the riders in the country who have been “subject to rape, sexual assault, or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver.” Additionally, the lawsuit faults Uber for only going back seven years when conducting its background checks.
How Burr Ridge Uber Passengers Can Protect Themselves
Given the risks that Uber passengers can face, you might be wondering how you can stay safe when traveling by Uber.
For people taking an Uber in the Burr Ridge area, there are some common-sense things you can do. For example, like other drivers in their industry, Uber drivers have to display the company’s emblem on their vehicles’ front windshield. If your “Uber” vehicle does not have this emblem, it might not actually be an Uber, so proceed with caution.
There are also certain documents that all Uber drivers must carry with them, including their current driver’s licenses and copies of the insurance policies covering their vehicles. As a passenger, you can demand to see any of these documents, and if your Uber driver refuses to show them to you, it could be a red flag, so consider canceling the ride.
Finally, if your Uber driver’s smartphone use makes you uncomfortable, you can ask that driver to stop, regardless of any objections that the driver may raise. Remember, your safety is always more important than your star rating.
Who Is Responsible for an Uber Accident?
But even if they take every possible precaution, Uber passengers could still end up suffering injuries as a result of the negligent actions of the company’s drivers, as could nearby pedestrians and other motorists. When this happens, injured plaintiffs might try to seek financial compensation, but Uber accident litigation comes with its own set of special challenges.
One challenge is the ambiguous nature of financial responsibility for incidents involving Uber. In America, employers are largely responsible financially when actions taken by their on-duty employees result in injuries and other damages. But like other players in the rideshare industry, Uber does not consider itself to be a traditional employer. The company has repeatedly insisted that its drivers are independent contractors, not “employees,” because they can work as little or as often as they wish, they do not report to direct supervisors, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation, and they do not receive benefits.
So who would be financially responsible in the case of an Uber accident? It depends on when exactly the accident occurs. Consider the following situations:
- Driver Is Not Logged On to the App – Drivers either fully own or make payments on the vehicles they use when “working” for rideshare companies like Uber. They are therefore required to carry minimum liability insurance on these vehicles. When drivers are not logged on to the Uber app, the company does not consider them to be on duty, since they cannot receive potential fares. In this situation, then, only the Uber driver’s personal auto insurance would apply in the case of an accident, which can be capped at as little as $25,000.00 for an injured person in Illinois.
- Driver Is Logged On But Has Not Accepted a Fare – This situation is classified by Uber as “Period 1.” During Period 1, the Uber driver’s own auto insurance is the primary source to be pursued in the case of an accident. During Period 1, however, Uber also offers additional coverage of up to $50,000.00 per person for injuries, $100,000.00 per total incident, and $25,000.00 for property damage, but only when the driver’s personal insurance has already been exhausted. Once Uber’s additional insurance is maxed out, whatever underinsured motorist coverage the injured parties may have, if any, would then come into play.
- Driver Is Going to Pick Up a Fare or Already Has Passengers – When an Uber driver is either going to pick up a fare (Period 2) or is already transporting passengers (Period 3) at the time of an accident, the company offers additional coverage of as much as $1 million per incident, but again only when the driver’s own insurance has been exhausted.
How Timing Can Make All the Difference
As you can see, the driver’s activity at the time of an Uber accident can make all the difference in how much insurance coverage can be available for recovery for injuries and damages. Therefore, it is crucial that an injured Plaintiff and the personal injury attorney representing him or her obtain accurate information about what exactly was going on when an Uber accident occurred since it can significantly impact the amount of possible financial compensation.
Does an Uber Driver Even Have Insurance?
Regardless of when an accident takes place, an Uber driver’s own insurance coverage remains the first line of recovery. But what if the Uber drivers do not actually have insurance coverage, even in cases in which they think they do? Very often, insurance companies explicitly exclude using personal insurance policies for business purposes, such as delivering food or transporting passengers for pay. While some carriers now offer rideshare insurance policies to pick up gaps in coverage, many Uber drivers may be unaware of these policies because the industry is so new, or they may simply be unwilling to take on the additional expense. All of this can greatly affect how much money may be available to compensate Uber accident victims.
Contact GWC’s Burr Ridge Uber Accident Lawyers Today
As you can see, Uber accident litigation brings with it unique challenges, with the amount of money available for compensation depending on how much personal liability insurance is available, whether or not that policy has work exclusions, if that Uber driver is “working” at the time, and what he or she is doing for the company, if anything, when the Uber accident occurs.
But these challenges are not insurmountable. To overcome them, turn to the Burr Ridge Uber accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, one of the leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.
At GWC, we can help you obtain full and fair compensation for your Uber accident damages, including for:
- Present and Future Medical Expenses
- Wage Loss
- Permanent Disability and Impairment
- Disfigurement and Scarring
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental and Emotional Trauma
- Reduced Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Consortium
With over $2 billion recovered in settlements and verdicts, GWC has the knowledge, the determination, and the record of success you need to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
If you are the wrongful victim of an Uber accident, schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Burr Ridge Uber accident lawyers today. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.
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