Ridesharing is a booming industry in the world today, and Uber is its undisputed leader. Uber currently has control over 67 percent of the American rideshare market, far ahead of Lyft, its closest competitor. Uber is also expanding around the world. With 91 million monthly active users and 3.9 million drivers in 63 countries, Uber completes about 14 million trips per day.

The rapid development of the rideshare industry, however, has come with an unfortunate unintended consequence: a large number of serious rideshare accidents. According to a study from the University of Chicago and Rice University, ridesharing has increased American traffic deaths by 2 to 3 percent since 2011, which is equal to 1,100 deaths per. Uber itself has been involved in a number of incidents in which it has been accused of negligence.

If you have been hurt by an Uber vehicle in Rockford, you could be eligible to receive compensation. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact the Rockford Uber car accident lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, where we have been serving the needs of injured clients for more than forty years. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative.

High-Profile Uber Incidents Across the United States

Uber accidents resulting in injury typically belong to one of three categories:

  • Passengers get hurt while riding in Uber vehicles.
  • Other motorists and pedestrians get hurt by at-fault Uber drivers.
  • Uber drivers get hurt when other drivers are responsible.

Across the United States, serious incidents involving Uber have gained notoriety:

  • In August 2016, Uber reached a financial settlement with the family of a six-year-old girl’s family in San Francisco after she was struck and killed in a crosswalk by an Uber driver.
  • In January 2017, a 24-year-old college student in Dallas filed suit against Uber after she paralyzed from the chest down because her Uber driver ran a red light and was subsequently T-boned by a pickup truck. The lawsuit accuses the company of failing to screen its drivers adequately.
  • In August 2017, an Uber driver was charged with reckless homicide in Chicago for his role in a multi-vehicle collision.
  • In March 2018, a “self-driving” Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, AZ. Some experts believe that defects in Uber’s autonomous technology may have been at fault for the accident.
  • Additionally, passengers have accused at least 103 Uber drivers of sexually assaulting or abusing them.

Incidents like these have sadly become so common that many critics have argued that the nature of the job may be incentivizing Uber drivers to take unnecessary risks in order to raise their compensation.

How Uber Drivers Can Put You in Danger

Uber drivers use personal vehicles to transport paying fares, splitting the revenues they earn with the company. Total driver pay is largely influenced by the number of trips an Uber driver can complete per shift. A system like this might inspire Uber drivers to disregard certain traffic laws in order to increase how much they get paid, often by speeding. Exceeding the speed limit can make auto accidents more likely, resulting in injuries for drivers, passengers, and others. Uber drivers could also be more susceptible to distraction because of their use of smartphones to navigate and find passengers, which can also hinder overall traffic safety.

Uber has also been accused of providing its drivers with as much safety training as limo and taxi operators, while legal challenges nationwide have also suggested that ridesharing companies have issues with screening. Over 8,000 rideshare drivers were pulled off the road in Massachusetts in 2017 because they could not pass the state’s newly stringent vetting requirements. Uber depends upon a private third-party provider to conduct background checks rather than a system with the involvement of law enforcement and fingerprinting. Within minutes, a potential Uber driver can start the online pre-screening process with only a social security number, a driver’s license, a car, and a non-violent criminal background. Though Uber claims it does not take on drivers with recent DUIs, serious speeding citations, or reckless driving charges, its system has approved drivers with felony records, putting passengers in danger of robbery, battery, sexual assault, and kidnapping.

This spotty vetting record has begun causing serious problems for Uber, with a recent class-action lawsuit targetting the company for its screening problems. Two female plaintiffs are trying to get the courts to force Uber to change its vetting practices on behalf of American passengers who have been “subject to rape, sexual assault, or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver.”

How Rockford Uber Passengers Can Ensure Their Safety

Given the dangers that Uber passengers can face, it is important to know that there are precautions that Uber riders in the Rockford area can take to help ensure their safety.  For example, Uber drivers are legally required to display the company’s emblem on their windshield. If your Uber driver is not displaying this emblem, he or she might not actually work for the company, so skipping the ride might be a good idea.

Uber drivers are also required to carry their current driver’s license and a copy of the insurance policy covering the vehicle at all times. As a passenger, you can ask to see these documents. If your Uber driver refuses your request, it might be a bad sign.

Finally, you have the right to tell Uber drivers to stop using smartphones if it makes you uncomfortable, since your star rating is never as important as your personal safety.

Who Is At Fault For an Uber Accident?

But even if they take reasonable precautions, passengers could still become the victims of Uber accidents, along with other motorists and pedestrians. While an injured party could be eligible to receive compensation, it is important to note that Uber accident claims often come with special challenges, particularly when it comes to determining the degree of financial responsibility.

American employers are generally culpable when actions taken by their on-duty employees culminate in injuries and damages, but Uber does not consider itself to be an employer. Instead, it has insisted that its drivers are independent contractors who can set their own hours, have no direct supervisors to whom they must report, do not receive any benefits, and are not eligible for workers’ compensation.

When an Uber accident occurs, then, who is financially responsible for it? It depends on the timing of the accident, as can be seen in the following scenarios:

  1. Driver Has Not Logged On to the App – Uber drivers largely own the vehicles they use, so they are required to carry minimum liability insurance coverage. When drivers are not logged on to Uber’s app, the company does not classify them as being on duty because they cannot take on passengers. In this scenario, only the driver’s personal auto insurance coverage would apply for an accident, which in Illinois can be limited to as little as $25,000.00 per injured person.
  2. Driver Has Logged On But Not Accepted a Fare – Uber calls this scenario “Period 1.” During Period 1, the Uber driver’s personal insurance coverage is still the first means of recovery, but even during Period 1, Uber provides supplemental insurance coverage of up to $50,000.00 per person for injuries and $100,000.00 per total incident, with $25,000.00 for property damage; however, it only goes into effect after the driver’s own coverage has been exhausted. After Uber’s insurance is maxed out, the injured parties must tap into their own underinsured motorist coverage, assuming they have it.
  3. Driver Is Going to Pick Up a Passenger or Already Has One – If an Uber driver is going to pick up a passenger (Period 2) or already has one (Period 3) when an accident occurs, Uber offers additional coverage of up to $1 million per incident, though it would also only apply once the driver’s personal insurance has been exhausted.

Timing Matters

As should be clear by now, an Uber driver’s activity when an accident occurs can greatly influence the amount of insurance coverage that may be available for recovery. If you an Uber accident victim, you and your personal injury attorney need to obtain accurate information on what the driver was doing at the time to determine the maximum amount of financial compensation possible.

Does an Uber Driver Have Insurance?

In any accident, the Uber driver’s personal insurance policy is always the first means of recovery. But what if Uber drivers do not actually have insurance coverage, even if they believe they do? Insurance providers often exclude insurance coverage for instances in which a driver is using a personal vehicle to conduct business, like transporting passengers. While there are insurance companies now offer rideshare policies that address any gaps in coverage, Uber drivers are often either unaware of them or unwilling to take on the additional expense. Situations like this can seriously limit the amount of money that an Uber accident victim can recover.

Rockford Uber Accident Lawyers Fighting for You

As you may see, Uber accidents present unique challenges, with the amount of compensation available depending on the liability insurance policy limits, the existence of work exclusions, and the driver is doing when an Uber accident occurs.

For help overcoming these challenges, turn to the Rockford Uber accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC, one of the leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois.

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.  Our Rockford Uber accident lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you full and fair compensation for all your damages, including for:

  • Present and Future Medical Expenses
  • Wage Loss
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Permanent Impairment and Disability
  • Scarring and Disfigurement
  • Mental and Emotional Conditions
  • Reduced Enjoyment of Life
  • Loss of Consortium

If you have been in an Uber accident, contact one of our Rockford Uber accident lawyers today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation. You can call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.

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