The confusing legal status of ridesharing & the complicated insurance claim process may leave you wondering what to do if an Uber driver hits you.
It’s no secret that Uber has quickly become the rideshare app of choice throughout California and the United States. This popular ride-booking app is putting traditional taxicab services out of work, by offering cheaper rates to riders. But at what cost? Some say that Uber actively skirts local laws and regulations in order to offer cheaper service. Others say the company doesn’t take its responsibility to protect people as seriously as it should. Indeed, Uber has come under fire in the past for the way it handles driver accidents – especially when the driver isn’t actively ferrying passengers. While much of the accident reporting process is the same for Uber accidents as for “regular” car accidents, the recovery experience after such a crash can differ greatly depending on a number of factors, including whether:
- The Uber driver was carrying passengers at the time of the crash
- The Uber app was open on the driver’s phone
- The driver was carrying personal auto insurance
- Another driver was involved in any capacity
Below we’ve created a quick reference guide to help you through the immediate aftermath of an Uber accident, and the financial recovery process to come. Hopefully, you’ll never have to ask what to do if an Uber driver hits you, but we’ll have your back if you do.
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.
What to Do Immediately After an Uber Driver Hits You
As mentioned above, many of the actions you must take to safeguard your health and legal options after an Uber driver hits you are very similar to those you must perform after any sort of car accident.
1) Call Emergency Services
Call 911 immediately after an Uber driver hits you if there are any injuries (even minor ones) or property damage. This call will send first responders like police and EMTs to your location within minutes. This step is essential.
Not only is having a complete and accurate police accident investigation report essential for a solid insurance claim or personal injury case, EMTs will be able to detect injuries that you may not even notice.
You do have the right to refuse medical treatment and ambulance transport if you see fit. Just understand that if the Uber driver can be shown to have caused the accident, in all likelihood you will not ultimately have to foot the bill for any of your medical expenses.
2) Begin to Gather Evidence
Evidence collection is an essential step for building a solid insurance claim after an Uber driver hits you. You should start as soon as you’re able – immediately after the accident, if possible. You should:
- Collect the names and contact info of all parties involved – including eye witnesses and responding police officers.
- Take photos of the surrounding area, all the vehicles involved, and your injuries.
- Get the driver’s license number of the Uber driver who hit you.
- Collect driver’s personal insurance information as well. (Uber Insurance may cover them, but it never hurts to have too much information.)
- Get a copy of the police report. This may be available at the local police precinct or office after the responding officer files it, but you should at least try to get an incident number from officers at the scene.
3) Contact Your Insurance Company
Regardless of who will ultimately be deemed at fault for the Uber accident in which you were injured, you should always contact your insurance company. This call will get the proverbial ball rolling on your financial recovery. It will also serve as official notice in case something goes wrong and you’re forced to rely on your own insurance to cover your expenses. While the their insurance may be liable after an Uber driver hits you, your insurance may pay for costs above and beyond the limits of their coverage. (Do this whether the Uber driver hits you while you’re in a car, on foot, on a bicycle or on any other type of conveyance.)
4) Find a Lawyer
While you may not need an Uber accident attorney to fight for you if your injuries are minor, if you’ve suffered serious injuries, you should at least consult with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with Uber accidents, to learn what options may be available to you, what pitfalls you may be up against, and how to maximize your settlement.
How the Financial Recovery Process Differs After an Uber Driver Hits You
Responding to public outcry and new legislation, Uber has changed the way it deals with insurance claims after drivers hit and injure other individuals. Indeed, the company offers a comprehensive insurance package which will pay out if a company contractor strikes an individual while they’re carrying passengers or while they have their Uber app open and are responding to requests for rides.
But Uber insurance isn’t like standard car insurance. Getting compensation could be difficult after an Uber driver hits you.
The Pitfalls of Uber Insurance Plans
Uber is proud of its $1 million auto insurance policy. Indeed, the company uses this figure to promote how safe and responsible the ridesharing company is. While $1 million coverage is much higher than required under California law, there are a few loopholes that allow the company to pay out much less to victims who have been injured after an Uber driver hits them.
When the Driver is “Active”
Uber’s much touted $1 million insurance policy will only cover the expenses of individuals who are injured in Uber accidents while the Uber driver is carrying passengers. And that $1 million is broken up between medical expenses and property damage. In addition, because California allows insurance companies to pay out for medical expenses paid rather than the actual total cost billed, you could end up with much less than you expected.
When the Driver is “Engaged”
But what happens if an Uber driver hits you with no passengers on board? If the driver is on their way to pick up an individual, there is another, less-expansive policy that comes into play, which may not cover all the expenses incurred after a serious injury accident.
This more limited policy includes:
- Third Party liability Coverage
- Uninsured or Underinsured Bodily Injury Motorist Coverage
- Contingent Collision and Comprehensive Coverage
When the Driver is looking for Fares
Uber’s company insurance will not cover after an Uber driver hits you if they are not carrying a passenger, or are not on their way to pick one up. In such cases, victims must seek compensation from the driver’s personal auto insurance policy.
Not only does Uber mandate that all of its “partners” carry specific auto insurance limitations, it’s considered unlawful in California to operate a motor vehicle without at least the state’s mandatory minimum insurance coverage.
Unfortunately, just because insurance is required doesn’t mean all Uber drivers have it. According to the International Insurance Institute, only 87% of drivers in California have insurance. That means that roughly 1 in 8 drivers have no auto insurance at all.
Worse yet, many personal auto insurance policies will not cover drivers while they’re using their vehicles for hire unless they’ve purchased additional insurance expressly for that purpose.
Where Does That Leave You?
If you’ve been hit by an Uber driver and seriously injured, get a free consultation from an experienced Uber accident attorney right away.
While a simple insurance payout could be all you need, if you have serious injuries, the process of securing the compensation you deserve is often complicated and challenging. If insurance companies refuse to pay, if the driver is underinsured, if the circumstances of the crash were at all unclear, you may need to take the at fault driver and/or their insurance company to court in order to get the compensation you deserve.
Even when the facts and evidence in the case seem clear, you will typically need an attorney who is an experienced negotiator to secure an appropriate settlement from an insurance carrier, and a good personal injury lawyer in a serious injury case can usually increase your award enough to more than cover their fee percentage of your settlement amount.
Just remember – if an Uber driver does hit you, they are almost always liable for your accident-related expenses, but it’s up to you (and your attorney) to negotiate (or litigate) the monetary compensation you need to get on with your life.