Uber was born in San Francisco.
As a rideshare startup, Uber promised to radically change the way we get from one place to another. However, several high profile Uber accidents in San Francisco – the home of the rideshare revolution – highlight the very real danger of relying on drivers who are not professionals.
While some Uber accidents in San Francisco are laughable (like the Uber driver who got stuck on a pedestrian staircase), some are tragic and leave families shattered.
Sadly, Uber has a long history of accidents in San Francisco, Oakland, and surrounding communities here in the Bay area. And while many people say that Uber offers safe alternative transportation, the paying public should not be fooled into thinking that Uber is a professional transportation service.
Indeed, many transportation agencies and cabbie unions across the country have been fighting for tougher regulations for Uber and its drivers. While some of the motivation behind this pushback against ridesharing is likely financial, some of the points raised concerning the safety, reliability, and professionalism of Uber drivers are indeed valid.
The Tragic Trail of San Francisco Uber Accidents
Uber’s First Fatality Accident in San Francisco
One of the first fatal Uber accidents in San Francisco happened in 2014 and forced lawmakers, Uber executives, and the general public to reconsider how we all must view ridesharing.
When a young girl was struck and killed by an Uber driver, the company refused to pay the victim’s surviving family members, arguing that the driver was not a company employee and was not “on the clock” at the time of the crash.
The family took Uber to court and eventually won a landmark verdict, forcing Uber to rewrite its insurance policy to include coverage for victims injured in Uber accidents while drivers had their apps open whether or not they had a paying passenger in the vehicle at the time.
This tragic accident also forced California to reconsider how it viewed all ridesharing applications. The legal liability loopholes that these companies were using up to that point were effectively closed and the companies themselves are now held to a higher standard of accountability.
However, many are quick to point out that even after the changes spurred by this fatal Uber accident in San Francisco, ridesharing companies (and the drivers who effectively work for them) are held to far more lenient standards than traditional transportation services.
For example, Uber drivers:
- Aren’t subject to additional licensing above and beyond a California state driver’s license
- Don’t need to undergo any special training
- Aren’t required to pass any additional exams
- Aren’t subject to annual, random, or scheduled inspections
And as the company evolves, its growth brings with it a whole host of new dangers.
Uber’s First Self-Driving Accident in San Francisco
In another landmark first, the first Uber accident involving a self-driving or autonomous vehicle happened right here in San Francisco. In 2017, the automobile in question was involved in a crash at an intersection.
While neither the car’s software nor the driver behind the wheel at the time was held at fault for the accident, the crash made headlines across the country and brought the safety of autonomous cars back into the forefront of the American consciousness.
Since then, other people have suffered tragedies as Uber strives to put its self-driving cars on the roads. Recently, a pedestrian was killed in Arizona after being struck by a self-driving car. An investigation revealed that the car’s software did indeed identify the pedestrian but failed to send a signal that would have stopped the car in time to avoid striking the individual.
The number of self-driving cars is on the rise. By 2025, it’s estimated that more than 8 million driverless cars will be on the road, and with this increase in self-driving cars comes a rise in the number of accidents involving self-driving cars too.
If you’re injured in an accident involving a ridesharing vehicle or self-driving car, determining who is at fault can seem like an impossible task. You need an experienced attorney who is well-versed in the cross-section of automotive technology and personal injury law to help guide you through this process.
Uber Drivers in San Francisco Aren’t Any Safer than Anyone Else
The real takeaway from any story about an Uber accident in San Francisco is that Uber drivers aren’t any safer than any other driver when they get behind the wheel. Why? Because they’re not professional drivers and are just ordinary people.
- Uber drivers have been arrested for drunk driving.
- Uber drivers have crashed while distracted by technology inside the car.
- Uber drivers have crashed in poor visibility.
- Uber drivers have injured passengers while speeding.
Unfortunately, many of us enjoy a false sense of security when we slip into an Uber. We think that because this driver is associated with a worldwide ridesharing company, they’re somehow less likely to be involved in a car crash than they actually are.
Yes, Uber does subject drivers to background checks. And the company will hold drivers accountable after a complaint is filed against them. However, even those processes are fallible.
For example, there is quite a bit of content online that instructs individuals on how to bypass Uber’s initial background screening. Additionally, there are dozens of stories from real San Francisco Uber passengers who have failed to see any real response from the company even after serious allegations were filed against specific drivers.
Uber Accident in Oakland? We Can Help You Too.
Uber has become a popular way to get around Oakland and the rest of the Bay area. It has the advantage of being cheaper than a regular cab and faster than public transport. So, what’s the likelihood that you will have to deal with an Oakland Uber accident case? Pretty high!
Uber drivers are not taxi drivers. They are not formally trained to carry and drive around passengers. They may take more chances than a trained cab driver and make more mistakes. The faster they get you to where you want to go and pick up another ride, the more money they make.
There are also incentives Uber comes up with to get the drivers to increase the number of trips they make. That means that Uber drivers are more likely to crash than other cars on the road.
There are three main scenarios where you would have an Oakland Uber accident case:
- You could be a passenger in an Uber when the driver makes a mistake and crashes.
- You might be a passenger in an Uber when the car is hit by another car.
- You could be hit by an Uber driver when in your vehicle, cycling, or walking.
Whatever the scenario, you will be soon wondering who’s going to pay for your injuries. That’s when things get complicated.
Because Uber is a rideshare company, making an accident claim against the driver or Uber doesn’t work the same way as if you were in a regular cab, bus, or another form of public transportation.
That doesn’t mean you will be out of pocket when the bills start piling up. You can win an Uber accident case, but you need to learn how. Below are 5 ways to help you win your Oakland Uber accident case.
1. Establish Who Was at Fault for your Uber Accident
You need to obtain sufficient compensation to help you pay any medical expenses and get your life back together. Winning a successful accident claim depends on proving that someone else was at fault.
If you are involved in an Oakland Uber accident, you must pinpoint who was to blame. If you were an Uber passenger and your driver crashed the car, what did they do wrong? It wasn’t your fault, so whose was it?
If you are able to do so, make a note about what went on immediately before and during the accident. If you have a cell phone, it should have a voice record option. Record your observations.
Was there another vehicle involved? Do you think the other driver was at fault? Were both the Uber driver and the other driver both to blame? If you cannot decide at the time of the accident, it will make it more difficult to make your case against Uber later on.
The other scenario is that you were injured while in another car altogether. The Uber driver and your car were involved in a crash and you were injured as a result. Again, it is helpful if you can decide right away who was at fault. Things can get complicated when you are partly to blame for an auto accident, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get compensation.
2. Collect the Evidence That Will Support Your Oakland Uber Accident Case
You won’t convince any insurance adjuster just by saying you think someone else was to blame. A successful claim depends on evidence. The more evidence you can collect at the time of the accident the better.
This may be difficult or downright impossible if you are severely injured and incapable of doing anything except waiting for an ambulance. Evidence that can help you win your Oakland Uber accident case later may include any or all of the following:
- Take notes just after the accident. These could be scribbled on anything you can find or you could make a voice recording.
- Take photos of the crash scene after the accident. Use your cell phone or tablet if you have one.
- Get witnesses’ contact details. If they are prepared to make a statement at the time, even better. Record it using your phone and then get their contact details, too.
- When the police arrive, ask which local police station is their home base. This is where you will find the police report later.
- Get medical treatment, especially if you have serious injuries. Make sure you obtain any medical reports, doctor’s observations, and all bills relating to treatment.
- Get a mechanic’s report of any damage to your vehicle if that was what you were in at the time of the accident.
- Your Uber accident attorney may be able to order an inspection of the Uber vehicle or you can ask experts to investigate any aspect of your accident. Their reports could be valuable.
3. Familiarize Yourself With The Law as it Applies To Uber Accidents
Winning an Oakland Uber accident case depends on understanding the law as it applies to Uber accidents and particularly how you are covered or not covered by insurance. Even if you have a good attorney to represent you, it helps to understand your situation so you can work together with your attorney.
The main thing to keep in mind is that every Uber driver is required to carry sufficient insurance in case you are injured, either as a passenger or if you were the driver or a passenger in another vehicle. It might be difficult proving that the Uber drive was to blame and difficult to get the insurer to make a satisfactory payment, but the insurance will be there.
The main complication will be if the Uber driver’s car was hit by another vehicle and both the Uber driver and the other driver, or just the other driver, was to blame. It may be necessary to make separate claims against each driver. In the case that the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, the Uber driver should have uninsured motorist insurance, which should cover you.
4. Use a Successful Uber Accident Personal Injury Lawyer To Help You Win Your Case
Time is of the essence in any personal injury claim. Even if the statute of limitations in California allows two years from the time of the injury, the reality is that acting fast is a good idea.
Don’t expect to have an easy time if you try and deal with an Uber driver or Uber as a company by yourself. You will need the legal expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Find out who has had successful wins against Uber before. That’s who you want to represent you. The sooner you have a good attorney working on your case, the better.
5. Avoid Any Direct Contact With Uber’s Insurance Provider
Uber is out to make money and so is its insurer. They will try and resist paying out compensation if you make a claim. If they know that you do not have an attorney representing you, or can talk to you directly, they will probably try and trick you into saying something that you might regret later on.
Anything you say that appears to lessen the liability of their clients will result in either a lower overall payment or no payment at all. Let your attorney deal with Uber’s insurer. They will have dealt with them many times before if they have successfully won Uber accident cases and will know exactly how to negotiate with them on your behalf.
Uber and Rideshare Insurance
Drivers who contract with Uber do have some limited insurance through Uber in the event of a collision, but what does this mean for you? The answer to this question has a lot to do with covered collisions. You should also know that California’s lawmakers are scrambling to update the law. Learn the latest here.
When does Uber’s insurance cover Uber drivers? Here’s how it all breaks down:
- When the app is turned off or the driver app is off: The driver’s personal insurance is responsible, and that coverage applies
- When the driver is available or waiting for a ride request (app is on): Uber’s driver insurance policy is in effect, including third-party liability insurance if the driver’s auto insurance policy does not cover the incident. This coverage includes:
$50,000 in bodily injury per person
$100,000 in bodily injury per accident
$25,000 in property damage per accident
- En route to pick up passengers or during an Uber trip: If an Uber driver is on their way to pick up a passenger, or has passengers in the vehicle, Uber has the following insurance protections in place:
$1,000,000 or more for third-party liability
Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury
Contingent comprehensive and collision, up to the actual cash value of the car, following a $1,000 deductible
Insurance coverage doesn’t get any simpler when you take a Lyft, either. With contingent and contingent comprehensive insurance, drivers are protected, but there’s little in the way of protections for passengers.
Uber’s included third-party partner policies don’t guarantee coverage for passengers who are injured during an accident while riding in an Uber. After all, insurance companies have their interests and their bottom line at heart, not the interest of someone who has been injured in an Uber accident. What does this mean? Insurance companies will always find a way to avoid paying a claim.
California does have rideshare laws in place. These laws were created in 2015 and were strengthened in 2020, but accident victims are entirely on their own when it comes to pursuing personal injury claims. An experienced attorney will help hold insurance companies accountable.
In short, passengers are given no real protection (other than Uber’s Insurance Policy) while they’re at the mercy of drivers that may or may not even be fit to drive. That’s a good thing to remember the next time you fire up your phone and are about to request that ride.
We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including Uber 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.