Ridesharing is becoming more popular, and Uber is leading the industry. Currently, Uber controls about 67 percent of the rideshare market in the United States, far outpacing its closest competitor, Lyft. Uber has also expanded across the globe; it has 91 million monthly active users and 3.9 million drivers in 63 countries, with approximately 14 million trips completed per day.
But the sudden rise of ridesharing has resulted in a greater number of serious rideshare incidents. According to one study from researchers at the University of Chicago and Rice University, the expansion of the rideshare industry has increased American traffic fatalities by 2 to 3 percent since 2011, a rate of about 1,100 deaths annually. Uber itself has drawn attention for a number of cases in which the company has been accused of negligence.
If you have been injured because of an Uber vehicle in Libertyville, you might be able to obtain financial compensation. For a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation, contact the Libertyville Uber accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, where we have been obtaining large settlements and verdicts on behalf of injured clients for over four decades. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative.
High-Profile Uber Incidents Across the Country
Generally, Uber accidents that result in injury can be divided into three categories:
- Passengers are injured while riding in Uber vehicles.
- Other motorists and pedestrians are injured by at-fault Uber drivers.
- Uber drivers are injured when other drivers are responsible.
All across the country, traffic accidents and negligent incidents involving Uber have gained attention, including:
- Uber reached a financial settlement with a six-year-old girl’s family in August 2016 after she was struck and killed in a San Francisco crosswalk by an Uber driver.
- A 24-year-old college student in Dallas filed a lawsuit against Uber in January 2017 after she paralyzed from the chest down when her Uber driver ran a red light and was T-boned by a pickup truck. The suit alleged that the company failed to adequately screen its drivers.
- An Uber driver was charged with reckless homicide in August 2017 for his involvement in a multi-vehicle crash in Chicago.
- In March 2018, a so-called “self-driving” Uber involved in a test program struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ. Uber suspended its program after the accident, though experts have suggested that defects in Uber’s technology may have been responsible.
- There have also been at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States who have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers.
These types of incidents have become distressingly commonplace, with many critics arguing that the nature of the job itself may be encouraging Uber drivers to take dangerous risks in order to increase their earnings.
How Uber Drivers Can Put You at Risk
Uber drivers use their personal vehicles to transport passengers, and they split the money earned from these trips with the company. While Uber driver compensation is determined by distance, the total driver pay is largely a factor of the number of rides the driver completes each shift. This system could implicitly encourage Uber drivers to ignore certain traffic laws in order to increase the amount they are paid, including by exceeding the speed limit. Speeding makes auto accidents more likely, which can lead the drivers, their passengers, and others in the vicinity to sustain injuries. Uber drivers may also be more prone to distraction because they use smartphones to navigate and find fares, which may also raise the chances of serious accidents.
Some critics of Uber have argued that its drivers do not receive as much safety training as taxi and limo drivers. Legal actions also suggest that ridesharing companies have overall problems with screening their drivers. In 2017, more than 8,000 rideshare drivers were taken off the road in Massachusetts after the state passed stricter vetting requirements. Uber itself uses a private third-party company to conduct its background checks instead of a system that involves law enforcement and incorporates fingerprinting. With only a social security number, a valid driver’s license, a motor vehicle, and a non-violent criminal background, an Uber driver can start the pre-screening process online within minutes. While the company claims it will not accept drivers who have recent DUIs, serious speeding citations, or charges of reckless driving, Uber’s system has reportedly approved drivers who have felony records, which has put passengers at risk of robbery, battery, sexual assault, and kidnapping.
In fact, Uber was recently named as the defendant in a class-action lawsuit over its screening problems. Two female plaintiffs are trying to get Uber to change its vetting process on behalf of all the passengers in the United States who have been “subject to rape, sexual assault, or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver.” The lawsuit also faults the company for only going back as far as seven years in its background checks.
Can Uber Passengers in Libertyville Protect Themselves?
Given the dangers to which Uber passengers may be exposed, you may wonder how riders can ensure their safety when they travel with an Uber driver.
For those who are taking Ubers in the Libertyville area, there are some common-sense precautions you can take. Like other rideshare operators, Uber drivers need to display the company’s emblem on their front windshield. If your Uber driver does not have this emblem, he or she might not actually be an Uber driver, so consider canceling the ride.
Uber drivers also have to carry certain important documents with them at all times, including a current driver’s license and a copy of the insurance policy covering the vehicle. Uber passengers can demand to see these documents. If your Uber driver refuses to show any of them to you, that might be a red flag.
Furthermore, you have the right to ask your Uber driver to stop using a smartphone if it makes you uncomfortable. Remember, your star rating is never as important as your safety.
Who Is At Fault When an Uber Accident Occurs?
Nevertheless, even when they take reasonable precautions, Uber passengers might still sustain injuries as a result of the negligence of Uber drivers, along with other motorists and pedestrians. While the injured parties might be eligible to receive financial compensation in these cases, it should be noted that there are special challenges in Uber accident claims.
One of the main challenges is uncovering the level of financial responsibility in incidents involving an Uber vehicle. While American employers are largely financially culpable when on-duty employees inflict injuries and damages, rideshare services like Uber do not consider themselves to be traditional employers. Uber has consistently claimed that its drivers are independent contractors since they can set their own hours, they have no direct supervisors to whom they have to report, they do not get any benefits from the company, and they are ineligible to receive workers’ compensation.
So when an Uber accident happens, who is financially responsible? The answer to that depends on the timing of an Uber accident, as one can see in the following cases:
- Driver Has Not Logged On to the App – Since Uber drivers either own or make payments on the vehicles they use when “working” for the company, they are required to carry at least minimum liability insurance coverage. When drivers do not log on to the company’s app, Uber does not consider them to be on duty because they cannot find paying passengers. In this case, only the driver’s personal auto insurance policy would apply if there is an accident; in Illinois, this coverage can be limited to as little as $25,000.00 per injured person.
- Driver Has Logged On But Not Accepted a Fare – Uber classifies a case like this as “Period 1.” During Period 1, the Uber driver’s own insurance coverage is still the first source to pursue if there is an accident. Even in Period 1, though, Uber offers supplemental coverage of as much as $50,000.00 per person for injuries and $100,000.00 per total incident, with $25,000.00 for property damage, but it only goes into effect once the driver’s personal insurance coverage is exhausted. After Uber’s supplemental insurance is exhausted, the injured parties’ underinsured motorist coverage could be tapped, assuming they even have any.
- Driver Is Heading to Pick Up a Fare or Already Has One – If the driver is heading to pick up a fare (Period 2) or is already transporting a fare (Period 3) when an Uber accident occurs, Uber offers supplemental coverage of up to $1 million per incident, though it would only go into effect after the driver’s personal insurance has been maxed out.
Timing Makes a Difference
As you may see from these cases, the driver’s activity when an Uber accident occurs can make a difference in the amount of insurance coverage available for recovery. If you are the victim of an Uber accident, it is crucial that you and your car accident attorney obtain accurate information about what the driver was doing at the time in order to determine the maximum amount of possible financial compensation.
Does the Uber Driver Have Insurance?
In any scenario, an Uber driver’s own insurance policy is always the first avenue of recovery. But what if Uber drivers do not really have insurance, even if they think they do? Insurance companies frequently exclude insurance coverage when a driver is using a personal vehicle for business purposes, such as transporting passengers. While there are insurance carriers who offer rideshare-specific policies designed to pick up any gaps in coverage, many Uber drivers are either not aware of these policies or they are not willing to take on the additional costs. When this happens, it can seriously impact the amount of money that Uber accident victims can recover.
GWC’s Libertyville Uber Accident Lawyers Are Here for You
Uber accidents present unique challenges to plaintiffs. The amount of compensation can depend upon how much liability insurance is available, whether the insurance policy has work exclusions, if the Uber driver is“working” at the time of a crash, and what that driver is doing for the company when an Uber accident occurs.
To overcome these challenges, consider reaching out to the Libertyville Uber accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.
GWC can help you obtain full and fair compensation for all your Uber accident damages, including:
- Past and Future Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Permanent Disability
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental and Emotional Anguish
- Diminished Enjoyment of Life
- Loss of Consortium
With over $2 billion recovered in settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients, GWC has the proven record of success necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
If you are injured in an Uber accident, contact one of our Libertyville Uber accident lawyers for a free consultation. You can call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.
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