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7 Must Know Issues if Your UBER Driver Gets Into an Accident

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Currently, the Florida Legislature is reviewing the nature of the employer/employee relationship at transportation networking companies like UBER. This determination will ultimately affect whether UBER shares the responsibility for any injuries that may occur as the result of an accident involving an UBER vehicle. UBER has lobbied for proposals that would classify the drivers as independent contractors, thus, relieving the business from any responsibility for accidents involving their drivers.

Until any proposed changes happen, here are the things you must know if you are injured in an accident involving a UBER vehicle.

    1. Many UBER and other Transportation Network Company drivers have dash cams.
      • It is important for you to request a copy of the video. It does not matter if the UBER driver caused the accident or if someone else did. The video evidence of the crash will be very helpful to your case.
    2. Your UBER driver’s PIP coverage may not cover your injuries.
      • Many insurance policies exclude coverage of vehicles when being used for commercial purposes. When a vehicle is in use as an UBER vehicle, it is being used commercially and thus, may not qualify for PIP coverage.
      • If you own a vehicle that is insured, your vehicle’s insurance may help pay your medical bills. However, if you don’t own a vehicle, you will need to find other sources of PIP to help pay your medical bills. Because many users of UBER or other transportation network companies do not own a vehicle, this is an extremely important issue.
    3. As an UBER passenger you may not be able to file a lawsuit.
      • If you are a passenger in an UBER vehicle and the UBER driver causes the crash and you are injured, you may not be able to file a lawsuit. As a passenger in an UBER vehicle, you must agree to their Terms of Use.
      • Their Terms of Use may include an arbitration clause, which means that you must settle all disputes using arbitration.While you may seek remedies for your injuries, you may not go into a court of law. Many arbitration panels are staffed with individuals who are very sympathetic to the business sector and therefore, may decide in favor of UBER, not the injured passenger.
    4. If you are injured, you may be out of luck, even though the driver is working for UBER.
      • Currently, UBER has no mandated Bodily Injury (BI) policy limits that they must maintain in order to operate in the state of Florida. Just like any other driver, there is no required bodily injury coverage. This is very important if the UBER driver causes an accident and hurts someone.
      • You (the injured person) may be out of luck, even though the driver is working for UBER. Therefore, it is important that you have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage to cover you in case you are involved in an accident involving an UBER vehicle. Uninsured Motorist coverage provides coverage regardless if the UBER driver has coverage or not.
    5. Knowing the difference between an independent contractor and an UBER employee.
      • Another issue is whether the UBER drivers are independent contractors or employees of UBER. If he/she is an independent contractor and causes an accident and injures someone, the injured person would not be able to sue the transportation networking company who hired the independent contractor.
      • If someone is determined to be an employee, then the employer is responsible for the employee’s actions. This is because the employer is profiting from the business actions of the employee. As an employer, the person or business has agreed to assume the risk of any injuries the employee causes. This issue has yet to be officially determined in the state of Florida, but courts in other states have determined that drivers are in fact employees. However, UBER is appealing as they do not want to be responsible for the actions of their drivers.
    6. The Florida Legislature may pass future laws regarding UBER and other transportation network companies.
      • UBER has been trying for the past several years to attain relief from countless local regulations in hundreds of municipalities around the state of Florida. UBER’s obstacle is that many of these municipalities already have existing taxi services and are resistant to UBER competing with their established local businesses. Therefore, they have made it very difficult for UBER to conduct business.
      • These requirements may include background checks and insurance waiting periods, which often make it cumbersome for UBER to begin operating. As a result, UBER has attempted to overcome the local regulations by reaching out to the State of Florida Legislature. UBER’s hope is that the legislature will pass their proposed statewide regulations which will override the local regulations and set up standards for which transportation network companies must comply in order to operate.
    7. Although UBER has not yet been able to get a bill passed, considerations have been discussed.
      • One of these considerations is including the possibility of tiered insurance policy coverage for UBER drivers, for example:
      • Tier 1:  Bodily Injury policy limits for an UBER driver who is simply on the clock for UBER waiting to accept calls.
        Tier 2:  Bodily Injury policy limits for an UBER driver who is on the clock and has accepted a call and is on his way to pick up a passenger.
        Tier 3:  Bodily Injury policy limits for an UBER driver who has picked up a passenger and is en route to the destination.

Uber driver in car accidentMany organizations, such as the Florida Justice Association and other consumer oriented organizations, are working with UBER to draft bill language that would make it easier for UBER to operate around the state but would also protect the citizens of the State of Florida. It is important that UBER maintains the same responsibility as any other type of cab company or delivery service company such as FedEx, UPS or other trucking companies and does not receive special privileges.

Stay tuned for new developments on this story.

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