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Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers

Drunk Driving Uber Accident.

Was Your Driver Intoxicated?

We’re in the golden age of ridesharing and it’s transforming how we travel. It's so simple to tap, tap, tap on your smartphone and have a driver arrive at your location within minutes.

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are inexpensive, Earth-friendly, and efficient, so it's easy to see why many people are turning to these alternatives rather than tried and true transportation options like taxis. Just call an Uber!

But are these ridesharing programs really as safe as everyone says? Bizarre horror stories have made splashy headlines about predatory Uber impostors and drivers who "kidnap" their passengers. These tales sometimes overshadow serious stories about severe and fatal Uber drunk driving accidents in Oakland, San Francisco, and L.A.

How can you tell if your Uber driver is drunk or driving under the influence? What can you do? What if they crash the car? These are scary questions to ask yourself. After you enter that ride-sharing vehicle, you are essentially at their mercy until they let you out.

Uber is Sometimes the Designated Driver, Sometimes DUI

News stories have touted how Uber has reduced the number of drunk drivers on the roads across America. Indeed, rideshare services have become an essential part of nightlife culture across the country, especially in California’s biggest cities.

There are even some law enforcement agencies recommending Uber and Lyft as safer alternatives to drinking and driving. However, it’s hard to know if you can trust your rideshare driver to be safe and sober on the road.

In-depth studies have shown that the relationship between ridesharing services and drunk driving is a little more complicated than the glossy headlines would have you believe. A study by Christopher Morrison found that Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services haven’t reduced the number of DUIs everywhere.

While the number of alcohol-related accidents decreased in places like Portland and San Antonio after Uber came to town, it had no effect on the number of DUI crashes in cities like Reno. The study's author points to city-specific factors that impact the total number of DUI offenses, like whether a city has a well-developed public transportation system.

The news gets even worse. In some areas, Uber’s impact has been so negative, regulators have imposed massive fines for safety violations related to drunk driving. California issued Uber a $1.1 million fine for violating the “zero tolerance” policy on drunk driving.

Another thing you must consider before concluding that ridesharing options are safe is that services like Uber and Lyft cannot vouch for individual drivers at any given moment. While the driver may have passed an initial background check, the company cannot state with confidence whether or not your driver had a few drinks before coming to pick you up.

Uber Faces a Staggering Number of Drunk Driving Claims

When you slide into the passenger's seat of your next Uber, ask yourself whether your driver is capable of getting you to your destination safely. If something seems off and you feel the answer is no, get out of the car immediately.

An audit of complaints filed against Uber shows that people are definitely driving for Uber while they’re under the influence of alcohol. In fact, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) filed an action against Uber stating that the company received 154 complaints of drunk drivers from passengers but failed to take adequate action.

Uber continues to mislead the public about its safety standards. After digging into safety report data, the PUC found that Uber thoroughly investigated just 21 of 154 drunk driving claims. Any of those drivers could have caused a devastating accident.

Here’s an example. An Uber driver was arrested for driving erratically after his passenger noticed his odd behavior. When tested, the driver's blood alcohol content was 4 times higher than that allowed for commercial drivers. Had the alert passenger not suspected impairment and notified the authorities, the driver would likely have continued to drive while legally drunk.

Sadly, when this incident was reported to Uber, the company simply issued the passenger a refund and failed to even contact the driver until 12 hours later. And in another case, when a blogger reported that a friend spotted her Uber driver smoking marijuana and drinking wine prior to the ride, Uber took no immediate action.

When these types of incidents arise, Uber often points to their commitment to preventing impaired driving. Reading through it, you’ll see that it’s really just feel-good language about being safe on the road. Is that enough?

What to Do After an Accident Involving a Drunk Uber Driver to Maximize your Personal Injury Claim

Here are a few pointers to help maximize your claim after being injured by an intoxicated rideshare driver.

  1. Call 911 immediately if there are any injuries - even minor ones - or property damage. Get medical treatment.
  2. Avoid interacting with the drunk Uber driver too much, especially if they are acting erratically. Don’t accuse them of a crime.
  3. Gather and preserve evidence, including:
    - Names and contact info of all parties involved, eyewitnesses, and responding officers.
    - Photos of the area, vehicles involved, and your injuries.
    - The driver's license number and insurance information of the Uber driver who hit you.
    - The police report
    - The location of any possible surveillance cameras or dash cameras.
  1. Contact your insurance company in case something goes wrong and you're forced to rely on your own insurance to cover your expenses. Never give a recorded statement or your social security number
  2. Do NOT post to social media about the accident, your recovery, or hospital stay.
  3. Build an ironclad case with an experienced personal injury attorney.
  4. Don’t take the first offer!
  5. Don’t forget the long term impacts of injuries after an accident.

How to Avoid a Drunk Uber Driver as a Passenger

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to avoid getting in the car with an Uber driver who is intoxicated. While impairment may be obvious much of the time, some people can mask their symptoms well and you may not know anything is wrong until you've been involved in a terrifying drunk driving accident.

Remember, you are in charge, not the driver. If you suspect they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tell them to stop immediately, report the driver to police, and file a claim with Uber. While the company's response may be delayed, removing yourself from harm's way is always the priority.

If you've been involved in a drunk driving Uber accident that you suspect was caused by a driver that was intoxicated, you may be able to seek compensation from the driver, from the rideshare service, or from the Uber insurance policy covering passengers at the time of the crash.

How Does Uber Insurance Work?

Let’s look at how Uber insurance works after an accident. Under California law, Uber must hold $1 million in insurance for accident injuries. Uber’s insurance partner program offers driver coverage with major insurance carriers.

In the event of a covered accident, a passenger can request compensation from Uber insurance depending on the circumstances. Uber rideshare insurance coverage depends upon three distinct periods:

Period 1: The driver is offline or the app is off.

When the driver is not actively using the app and isn’t working, the driver’s personal insurance coverage applies. You’d need to pursue their auto insurance company, not the rideshare insurance.

Period 2: The driver is available or waiting for a ride request.

When the driver is working but not actively transporting a passenger, Uber maintains third-party liability coverage if personal auto insurance doesn’t apply. This includes $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident.

Period 3: The driver is en route to pick up riders or is actively driving a passenger.

This is the active period when a driver is en route or driving passengers. Uber insurance is $1 million in third-party liability insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, contingent comprehensive and collision coverage, and up to the cash value of the car with a $1,000 deductible.

Similarly, Lyft insurance offers certain coverage terms. While both companies have hotlines to report your accident details, we don't advise you to speak with their insurance companies. They’re highly trained to minimize your claim or trick you into giving a recorded statement that could hurt your case.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to rely on Uber or Lyft representatives to resolve your case. You can seek the help of an experienced lawyer to stand up to the rideshare company.

Can a Passenger Sue a Drunk Uber Driver?

Yes, a passenger can sue a drunk Uber driver! But you probably won’t need to. Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers can usually help you settle your case out of court.

A simple insurance claim is often all it takes to get the compensation a victim needs for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

In a small number of cases, if an Uber accident passenger and their attorney determine that an acceptable settlement amount cannot be negotiated with the insurance company, it may be possible to get a larger sum in compensation for the injuries suffered by suing the Uber or Lyft driver instead. This means facing the insurance company in court.

It is important to understand that it's always possible the passenger may actually lose the case if it goes to trial, in which case, unfortunately, the injured person may walk away with nothing but legal expenses for their effort.

On the other hand, sometimes suing an Uber driver is the right decision for an injured driver to get the compensation they deserve. Plus, it may be what it takes to get a dangerous drunk driver off the road.

What About Autonomous/Driverless Ubers?

Self-driving cars are back on California’s roads after well-publicized crashes that made many people question their safety. And get ready for even more of these autonomous vehicles, because Uber says they plan to bring more to the Bay Area in the months and years ahead.

In terms of accidents, the driver’s not off the hook because a car has automated features. Operating a self-driving car doesn’t release a car’s driver from responsibility in a crash. They are still expected to be in control of their vehicle and can still be found to be at fault for drinking and driving.

As an injured victim, you can pursue a driverless Uber claim by establishing someone was negligent in one of two ways:

  • Ordinary negligence: The plaintiff alleges that a reasonable person would have acted differently in the same situation.
  • Negligence per se: The plaintiff alleges that the conduct was inherently negligent and there is no need to prove that a reasonable person would have acted differently.

Drunk driving often involves negligence per se because drinking and driving can often be shown to be inherently dangerous. When an Uber driver drinks and drives, they’re endangering everyone on the road, including their own passengers.

You Could Suffer Serious Injuries in an Uber DUI Accident

A victim in an Uber accident can be left with expensive medical bills. Here are some of the most common injuries we’ve seen from drunk driving and Uber accidents at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers.

Head and Neck Injuries

These injuries are common among Uber passengers because they typically ride in the back seat where their head may shift violently forward or to the side in a crash or could even strike the rear of the front seat or window. This causes head trauma, facial injuries, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries with lifelong effects.

Knee and Lower Limb Injuries

Did you know knee and leg injuries are less common in regular car accidents than in Uber passenger accidents? If the leg comes into contact with the rear of the front seat, the impact can cause irreparable damage to the delicate joints in the lower limbs.

Hand and Wrist Injuries

These injuries arise as defensive wounds. If the passenger sees an accident about to happen, they’ll typically throw their hands out to protect themselves. You could have broken fingers, disjointed wrists, torn ligaments, and fractured arms - any of which could require expensive hand surgery.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uber Drunk Driving Accident?

After an accident, Uber and other rideshare companies often drag things out and hope you’ll get tired of fighting. They’ll try to wear you down so you accept a lowball settlement or just give up. Don’t do it!

You have another option: getting an accident lawyer. When you have a lawyer, everything changes. Now the rideshare company realizes this person isn’t going to back down and is going to demand high-dollar compensation.

How Much Can I Win in a Drunk Driving Uber Accident Claim?

It’s a fact that people who hire lawyers get more compensation than those who don’t. The Insurance Research Council found that accident victims with a lawyer receive an average of 3.5 times more.

Uber won’t want to pay a penny more than they have to. With an experienced Uber accident attorney on your case, Uber will see that they must adequately compensate you for things like:

  • Extended physical therapy or other future treatment
  • Lost wages from periods away from work
  • The value of lost services you were physically unable to perform during your recovery
  • The pain and suffering you and your family endured as a result of the accident

We can’t emphasize this point enough: It’s your right under California law to request a fair settlement that adequately compensates you for the damages your Uber accident caused.

Why is Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers a Better Choice Than Other Law Firms?

You’ll need a lawyer with a thorough knowledge of the tricky tactics Uber uses to avoid paying high-dollar claims. Your situation requires a smart, bold law firm that can stay ahead of Uber at every turn. That’s us!

Don't just hire a general personal injury attorney or one who dabbles in car accident cases. An Uber drunk driving case calls for a lawyer who focuses on these types of accidents specifically. At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we’ve handled numerous Uber and Lyft accident cases involving a wide variety of circumstances.

Long before Uber and Lyft ever even existed, we ONLY represented people in severe traffic accidents. We genuinely care about the people of California and will fight for you.

Our team prides itself on providing unparalleled customer service. You can see in our reviews that:

  • We never make bold promises just to get your business.
  • We are accessible and return your calls and emails ASAP.
  • We discuss all the crucial decisions with you and give you the information needed to make good choices.
  • We fight against the crafty Uber adjusters and lawyers to get the maximum amount you deserve.
  • We negotiate with your medical providers to reduce your bills, letting you take more of the settlement money home.
  • We make sure you get your FULL AND FAIR financial recovery quickly with as little stress as possible.
Uber Accidents Are on the Rise

Mike D.

Motorcyclist hit by an Uber driver

Last year I was in a serious Motorcycle accident that was not my fault. Beyond the initial emergency room visit, I required surgery and months of rehab. All in all, my left leg will probably never reach 100%. It has been a stressful and scary year. But one of the comforts through it all has been the services that Sally Morin provided.

While I was focused on my health, she was taking care of everything else. And in the end she got the other drivers' insurance company to settle at an amount that was substantial enough to cover the pain and suffering I had incurred as well ease my worries about paying for any future care related to the accident.

She even got the medical collections to decrease my balance due by thousands. I was skeptical to hire a lawyer off of YELP, but in the end it was the best thing I could have done.

Experience a serious Uber or Lyft accident?

Visit our Uber Accidents Help Page to learn more about how the personal injury process works.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an injury in a drunk driving Uber accident, contact the traffic accident attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We handle many areas of the law, including injury cases from Uber accidents and drunk driving accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details. We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

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