WE SPEAK MULTIPLE LANGUAGES
Uber has revolutionized getting around town. With the simple touch of an app, a person can have a clean, safe car pull up to their home or the curb to pick them up. The price of an Uber ride is often lower than that of a conventional taxicab, and customers like the individualized service that Uber drivers provide.
Nevertheless, Ubers get into accidents just like other vehicles on the road in Seattle, and innocent people can suffer serious injuries. If you were hurt, please contact one of our Seattle Uber accident lawyers for a free case evaluation.
Many different people can be injured in Uber accidents:
Each of these cases is different and requires an individual examination of fault and whether insurance applies.
The party or entity at fault for the accident must pay compensation to injured victims. That is black letter Washington state law. For this reason, a good starting point for Uber accidents is to determine who is to blame.
For example, the Uber driver might have been negligent, which means he or she did not use sufficient care when driving. A negligent Uber driver could get into a crash that injures their passengers. The accident can also injure the occupants of the vehicle the Uber driver hit.
In other accidents, another motorist might have been negligent and have struck the Uber. Negligence can take many forms, such as speeding, tailgating, illegally passing, or failing to yield. Some drivers are negligent because they are distracted or impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.
All Uber drivers carry personal insurance. This is the insurance Washington requires when a person registers a vehicle. The policy limits are low: only $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, up to a maximum of $50,000 per accident.
However, Uber drivers also must carry rideshare insurance. This coverage has higher policy limits.
Whether the Uber insurance kicks in depends on the circumstances of the accident. For example, if the Uber driver wasn’t logged into the app and was doing personal business, then he or she is no different than any other driver on the road. It doesn’t matter if they have an Uber sticker in their window. They are simply a motorist driving their car when they hit you. In this type of accident, the driver’s personal insurance covers the accident if the driver was to blame.
Things are different if the driver was logged into the app and looking for a ride. In this situation, the driver’s personal coverage will be looked at first, but Uber’s insurance will step in if personal insurance does not cover the accident. Currently, Uber’s insurance has policy limits of $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $100,000 per accident.
If the driver had a passenger with them or had accepted a ride and was on their way to pick them up, then Uber’s policy is the primary coverage for the accident, and up to $1 million in coverage is available.
Getting compensation is difficult, and no one should assume that Uber will happily pay medical bills or cover other costs. Instead, they will perform a thorough investigation to identify whether their driver was to blame.
Passengers can suffer serious injuries when they are assaulted by a driver. This is not a hypothetical problem. News stories emerge all the time of someone—often female—being sexually assaulted by her Uber driver.
Uber claims to run background checks on all independent contractors before letting them drive for the company. But investigative reports suggest that these background checks are not very thorough, and many drivers end up committing assault. For example, a 2018 CNN investigation found that more than 100 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault while driving for the company. Some of these drivers faced criminal charges, while others had been named in a civil suit.
Assault or false imprisonment can happen in a variety of circumstances. Some victims were visibly intoxicated and requested an Uber to get them home safely—only for the driver to take advantage of the situation. Other victims found themselves driven to a location and attacked there.
The first step is to try to get to safety. Then you should call 911 immediately and report the assault. These are crimes that the police should investigate.
You should also complain to Uber about the driver. They need to be on notice that a driver is dangerous and prevent him from working for the company any longer.
Yes. No one has a right to put their hands on you without your permission. Any type of unwarranted touching can form the basis of a lawsuit. And assaults like rape are particularly offensive.
You can sue any driver who assaults you. However, even if you win, you might not receive anything in a settlement. The driver could have few assets—no home and no cash in the bank. (If they were rich, they probably wouldn’t be driving an Uber.)
Another promising avenue to compensation is to sue Uber for the driver’s assault. Because the driver is an independent contractor, Uber is not automatically liable for a driver’s actions. But if the driver had a criminal record or other complaints of inappropriate behavior, then Uber should have been on notice that the driver was a threat. The company’s refusal to protect passenger safety could make them liable.
Yes. Provided you are not solely to blame for the accident, you could receive compensation for your losses, just as a passenger can. Your insurance should also cover you in the event of a wreck. You should report the accident to Uber so that they are aware of it.
If possible, you should make sure that the police come out to write a police report. This report will help establish certain facts about the case—who was involved, where and when it happened, etc.
You should also get insurance information for all vehicles involved in the crash. If you were an Uber passenger, this is an important step. Don’t assume the Uber driver is collecting this information for you. Ask for it from every driver you think was involved in the crash.
You should also photograph where the vehicle was hit. This is helpful in establishing how the accident unfolded. Walk around all cars involved (if you can) and use your smartphone to take pictures. If there are skid marks or debris in the road, then get photos of that also. These pictures really are worth a thousand words.
Any settlement involves two parts. First, a victim must convince the insurer to accept that their insured was at fault for the collision. Washington recognizes shared fault, which means two or more people could be to blame. It is also possible for you, the victim, to be partially at fault. If our client shares some of the responsibility, then they can still receive compensation, though they might receive less than they otherwise would.
The second part of any settlement is getting the insurance company to accept the full extent of our client’s damages. This is basically any money you lost due to the accident. It can include:
It can also include a fair sum to compensate for your physical pain and suffering, along with any emotional distress caused by the accident. These types of non-economic losses are often the source of dispute in settlement negotiations. Uber and its insurer have an incentive to minimize the pain and suffering our clients have experienced, whereas we will work to maximize the amount of compensation available.
Yes. Washington’s comparative fault law, found at RCW 4.22.005, states that a victim’s compensation will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault for an accident or injury. This rule sometimes comes into play with Uber accidents, especially if you were a motorist or pedestrian struck by an Uber driver.
For example, you might have been crossing an intersection when the light told you not to cross. This is a definite example of negligence on your part. However, the Uber driver could have been distracted by a cell phone and didn’t see you. In this example, both you and the driver were negligent, and for this reason, you will probably not receive 100% of the compensation you were expecting. If your losses total $200,000 but you were 40% at fault, then the maximum you can receive is $120,000.
If you were an Uber passenger, then comparative negligence probably doesn’t apply. But it’s still something you should be aware of.
Uber often raises the issue of comparative fault to reduce their liability for an accident. This is one reason why it is so critical to work with an experienced Seattle Uber accident lawyer. At Khan Law, we can build a strong evidentiary foundation to minimize your own negligence and maximize your take-home compensation.
Washington allows victims a maximum of three years to file a personal injury lawsuit against a driver for an accident. For example, if you were hurt on June 1, 2020, then you have until June 1, 2023, to file your lawsuit. Miss the deadline and a judge will dismiss your case—barring you from receiving compensation.
There are some exceptions to this harsh deadline, especially if a minor child is hurt. Nonetheless, it’s in your best interest to reach out to a lawyer promptly.
Uber accidents are very complicated, and any victim without an attorney is at a decided disadvantage. In our experience, injured victims do not see enough money and do not understand how to make a convincing argument to insurers. Also, if an insurer will not accept responsibility, filing a lawsuit might be inevitable.