Your Rights as a Passenger: When an Uber Ride Goes Wrong

Rideshare options like Uber and Lyft are becoming increasingly popular for multiple reasons. Some people prefer the convenience of not having to deal with parking in crowded cities like Los Angeles. Others want to save money on fuel as gas prices continue to escalate with no end in sight. Still others understand that by sharing a ride, they are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint and help the environment.

Whatever your reason for choosing to take a rideshare like Uber, you enter the car with an expectation that you will get to your destination safely, and for most passengers who book and use this ridesharing service, that happens with little to no inconveniences.

But no one can predict when an accident may strike, and if you were a passenger in an Uber ride gone wrong, you probably have questions that can’t be answered quite the same as if you were in a regular motor vehicle accident. The same laws and liability do not necessarily apply to Uber accidents.

So where to you turn to for help? Hershey Law stays abreast on all of the most current personal injury issues, and with the increase in Uber lawsuits, we know what you need to know to handle your accident, and we don’t mind sharing the information!

Uber Safety and Integrity Requirements

Not just anyone can qualify to be an Uber driver, so that means that drivers must have passed a screening before they were allowed to cart you around. The screening is not perfect by any means, and it has undergone intense scrutiny recently, but it is enough to deter hardened criminals and those with questionable driving skills.

Uber drivers must be at least 21 years old and have been licensed to drive in the United States for at least one year (three years for those who are under 23 years old). Each person must have a social security number and pass a driving record check and background screening.

Car regulations must be met as well. Drivers must own or have access to a vehicle with four doors that is no more than ten years old for most cities, although some cities allow this to stretch to no more than 15 years old.

Although Uber provides insurance themselves as protective coverage in some situations, drivers must have in-state automobile insurance in their name and a valid in-state driver’s license. Their vehicle’s plates and registration must be current.

Even though Uber does require a background screening and driving record check, their drivers are allowed to have no more than three moving violations within three years. They can have a criminal record, but it can’t be a conviction for a felony, violent crime, or sexual offense that occurred within the previous seven years.

Drivers can pass a screening and still get deactivated or placed under review at any time during their employment. Uber does watch their drivers’ integrity and will step in if it begins to be called into question.

Uber drivers can be deactivated if they violate the Uber Code of Conduct for inappropriate behavior, drug and alcohol use, or illegal behaviors. They can also be deactivated if their updated background check does not pass or their documents expire.

Some drivers get reported for unsafe driving or other serious complaints. These are taken seriously as well. In fact, there are many ways for an Uber driver to be deactivated, so the odds of your driver being anything other than a regular citizen looking to make some extra money are minor.

Still, problems can crop up during your Uber drive and when they do, you need to know what steps to take next.

Common Problems That Occur During an Uber Ride

Uber is used in 83 countries world-wide. Since its initiation in San Francisco, California in March 2009, it has safely transported literally billions of people to their destinations without more than minimal incidents. Like with any other mode of transportation, however, accidents can happen, and problems can arise.

Uber offers 24/7 availability in hundreds of cities throughout the world, and in many of these cities the services are in high demand.

During the years since Uber has begun its popular mode of travel, the company has been troubleshooting regular problems that have been reported. These problems vary from minor irritations to severe injuries or fatalities. For the more moderate to severe issues, lawsuits have arisen with the following common complaints:

1. Accidents that occur due to another party’s reckless or careless driving. Uber drivers are rated on their professionalism and safety while driving passengers to their destinations, but no matter how cautious of a driver you get, it is possible for an accident to occur due to another driver’s actions.

Statistically speaking, accidents have risen significantly over the last few years as more and more people are distracted by technology. People who text and drive have caused over one and a half million accidents each year, which amounts to a quarter of all of the accidents that occurred around the world annually. It is safe to assume that out of those one and a half million plus accidents, some of them were Ubers in progress.

Texting and driving is not the only cause of Uber-related accidents, though. Drunk driving, distracted driving, faulty vehicle products, and inclement weather cause millions of accidents as well. Regardless of how your accident occurred, if the other party was at fault and you were injured, you need to know how to proceed to get your bills covered.

Uber drivers in most states are required to carry a minimum of a $1,000,000 liability policy for automobile accidents. The at-fault party should also have insurance coverage.

Depending on the state you are in, this policy should take care of your medical bills and those of any other passenger in the vehicle. California is a tort state, which means that the driver who is responsible for the accident must cover the medical bills. Once that driver’s policy has exhausted, however, the Uber driver’s policy will kick in.

Because liability while you are in an Uber-related accident is so complex, it is important to find a personal injury attorney who also knows about these types of laws and can help you get the benefits you are entitled to for your injuries.

2. An accident that happened because of the Uber driver’s careless or reckless driving. Putting your safety in the hands of a complete stranger is never something to be taken lightly, but when they have passed the Uber standards of safety and integrity, passengers have a modicum of trust that they would not otherwise have had.

Sometimes, though, that trust is shattered when the Uber driver’s reckless or careless driving causes a rear-end collision or another type of accident while you are the passenger.

If you are injured in an accident in which the Uber driver was at fault, you can file a claim against the driver. However, you will have to prove that not only was the driver at fault, but that you were injured as a direct result of the negligent driving.

Once you decide to pursue a case for your accident, your attorney will have to investigate to determine whether you need to file the lawsuit against the driver’s personal automobile insurance policy or against the rideshare company’s policy.

Suing big companies like Uber or Lyft for car accidents that their drivers caused can be a difficult battle, so you want to make sure you retain an attorney who knows the personal injury field well and rideshare laws in particular and can get you the compensation you deserve.

3. Misconduct that occurred due to the intentional actions of the passenger or the driver. Occasionally, stories appear on the news about an Uber passenger who assaulted the driver. The passenger may have been drunk or disorderly or just rude and obnoxious, but they set out to intentionally harm either the driver or the vehicle. It happens.

But when the driver is the one with the misconduct attributed to him or her, the stories are often told even louder. These are the kinds of stories that make headlines, and many people have heard of Uber driver sexual misconduct. In fact, studies are being compiled that research driver assaults and kidnappings while the driver was on the clock working for Uber.

These stories are rare, but they do occur, so Uber has implemented safety features such as passenger tracking in their apps. While it isn’t a failsafe mode of transportation, it has worked for billions of people for almost two decades.

Know Your Passenger Rights

When you are the victim of an accident while you are an Uber passenger, you have rights. The law can be complex and vague where Uber versus personal automobile accident liability is concerned, but you don’t want to wait to seek medical treatment while the insurance companies battle over who is responsible.

For guidance on your next step and how to get the benefits you have a right to if you were injured in an Uber accident, call the experts at Hershey Law for a free consultation.