Whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, the collaborative consumption that makes up the sharing economy is here to stay. Now you can rent a spare room in your house to weary travelers, rent one of several shared bikes at terminals throughout large cities, or make a little extra cash driving people to and from their destinations. However, this new economic sector raises a whole new set of legal questions about responsibility and liability. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise you can’t seem to turn the corner without seeing an ad for an “Uber Accident Attorney” So, what do you do as a passenger when your rideshare driver finds themselves in a crash?
1. Call 911.
Since rideshare companies treat their drivers as independent contractors, each driver is responsible for maintaining their own automobile insurance in compliance with the company’s rules and regulations. Many of these drivers are reluctant to contact the authorities in the event of a crash since it will affect their insurance premiums, driver’s status and licensure. However, receiving care for injuries after an automobile accident is nearly impossible if the accident was never reported to the authorities. In spite of what your driver says, in spite of if you feel pretty okay, insist on calling the police in the event of an accident.
2. Report the accident in the app.
In the wake of difficult accident reporting procedures, both Uber and Lyft now have in-app accident reporting processes that begin with the push of a button. Customer service in both cases will walk you through what happens next, assist you in contacting authorities if you haven’t already, and take statements about what happened. Again, your driver may be reluctant to have you report the accident, but doing so can only help you in the long run.
3. Take pictures if you can.
While you have your phone out, and if you are not seriously injured, begin to take pictures of the accident scene. Be sure to take pictures of your driver, any other drivers or pedestrians involved, the license plates of both vehicles, the location where the accident happened, your injuries (if any) and any damage that may have occurred. In the event your accident goes to court, these pictures will serve as invaluable evidence in determining fault and financial outcomes.
4. Be sure to get a copy of the accident report.
Any police officer who arrives on scene will supply a copy of the accident report to both drivers. If they cannot supply a third copy to you, be sure to snap a picture of the report as well as the officer’s name and badge number. Such simple information makes it much easier to track down a copy of the accident report in the future.
5. Your injuries are covered, but you will need an attorney’s help to be compensated.
Some auto accident cases can be resolved without the help of an attorney. An accident involving an Uber driver almost always requires an attorney’s help to sort through liability and compensation. While your injuries are covered under the driver’s insurance, Uber also carries an insurance policy for its passengers. However, Uber’s coverage only extends to certain times you are engaged with the app and its drivers.
When a driver has accepted a ride but does not have the passenger with him, there is limited liability coverage for the driver if he is in an accident. If the driver has an Uber passenger in his car, Uber’s insurance policy will cover the passenger or any third party (like a bike messenger or pedestrian) if an accident occurs. However, this insurance only kicks in after the driver’s insurance has paid out. That is where having the help of a qualified Uber accident attorney comes in. They can help you navigate liability, medical expenses and payouts between both the driver’s insurance company and Uber’s.
If you have been in an Uber accident, contact an attorney you can trust to help you navigate the murky legal waters of liability.