Ridesharing has changed the way many Corpus Christi residents and visitors get around town. Taking an Uber to work, the airport, or to-and-from a night on the town, often costs less than using a taxi company, and is far more convenient. Not to mention that having a ready ride home from a restaurant or club in downtown Corpus eliminates the risk that you or a friend will make the poor (and costly) decision to drive drunk.
What happens, however, if your Uber ride goes horribly wrong by ending in a crash? With so many rideshares on the road these days, it’s a real risk that some percentage of them will get into an accident that leaves passengers and others badly injured.
If your Uber ride fails to get you home safe and sound, and instead sends you to the hospital with serious injuries, then you may have rights to recover compensation, but only if you hire an personal injury attorney who knows the ins-and-outs of the emerging legal issues surrounding accidents involving Uber and other similar rideshare companies. In Corpus Christi, you can find that lawyer at The Patel Firm. Call us at (361) 400-2036 or contact us online to learn more.
The Corpus Christi-based law practice The Patel Firm exclusively represents people whose lives have been turned inside-out by injuries resulting from someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions. For years, our firm has pursued and obtained compensation for victims of motor vehicle accidents, in particular. More than ever, a significant number of those representations involve clients injured in crashes involving an Uber ride, either as the passengers in the Uber ride or as occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident.
In most ways, crashes involving Uber rides resemble any other type of car accident. However, unlike the well-established rules for sorting through legal liability in the case of an “ordinary” collision, the laws and regulations affecting how to obtain compensation in an Uber accident are relatively new and, from a legal perspective, unexplored. That is why victims of Uber accidents must seek out the services of a lawyer who has stayed on top of developments in the law surrounding ridesharing companies like Uber. In Corpus Christi, you can find your car accident lawyer at The Patel Firm.
Anyone who drives a motor vehicle in Texas likely has a basic understanding of how auto insurance works. In Texas, all registered drivers must be covered by a liability insurance policy with a minimum of $30,000 of coverage per person for any injuries caused in an accident, with a minimum of $60,000 total coverage per accident, as well as $25,000 in coverage for property damage caused by an accident. The purpose of this insurance is to make sure anyone harmed by an accident a driver causes can obtain minimal compensation to pay for medical care and other related costs.
Uber drivers drive their own vehicles. They, like any other registered car owner in Texas, must carry the minimum liability insurance that covers them while driving on their own personal business (that is, during times when they are not “driving for Uber”).
Under a Texas law passed in 2016, however, Uber drivers must also carry additional liability insurance coverage that applies during two distinct periods of time:
As a condition of offering rideshares in Texas, Uber must certify in writing that it provides this “extra” coverage for its drivers, even if its drivers do not themselves purchase the coverage through their own private auto insurance policy.
So, under Texas law, in an accident caused by an Uber driver who is actively engaged in a rideshare request, any injured party can feel confident of at least $1,000,000 in coverage, in the aggregate, available to pay them damages. Similarly, anyone injured in an accident caused by an Uber driver who is merely logged on to the Uber app, but not engaged in an active rideshare, can feel confident in at least $50,000 per person, and $100,000 in the aggregate, of liability coverage to pay them compensation.
In essence, the law makes getting into an accident caused by a working Uber driver financially “safer” than getting into an accident with any other driver, since the minimum coverage required of working Uber drivers is higher across-the-board.
That’s indisputably a good thing.
But is it everything? Say, for example, an Uber driver causes a massive pileup that racks up multiple-millions-of-dollars in personal injury and property damage. Is Uber off-the-hook for any of those damages that exceed the $1,000,000 in coverage its drivers must carry? Uber certainly hopes so. Its business model depends on its entire force of drivers acting as “independent contractors” for whose actions Uber would generally not be held legally responsible in most cases, rather than employees, for whose actions Uber generally would have some legal liability in most cases.
As yet, no one has successfully argued in a Texas court that Uber can be held liable for an accident caused by one of its drivers in which damages exceed the $1,000,000 or $100,000 aggregate coverage limits that Texas law requires. Legal battles in other states, however, have challenged the notion that Uber can always hide behind the protection of treating its drivers as “independent contractors.”
What if, for example, an update to Uber’s driver-side app is poorly designed and causes driver distraction that leads to crashes? What if Uber allows a driver to continue operating on its service even after the driver has engaged in dangerous or illegal conduct behind the wheel, such as driving drunk? Time will tell if those battles affect the rights of Texans who sustain serious injuries in an accident caused by Uber drivers.
One thing you can rest assured of, however, is that lawyers at The Patel Firm always stay on top of all developments in the laws surrounding Uber accident liability, so that their clients injured in an Uber accident have the benefit of the most current understanding and application of the law.
“Mr. Patel and his staff helped me the whole way through everything. They are awesome! They work hard to get you what you deserve. I highly recommend them.” – Jose R.
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In our experience at The Patel Firm, few motor vehicle accidents involve a cut-and-dry determination that one party involved in the accident bore 100 percent of the fault for causing it. Car accidents and their outcomes are far messier. Many combinations of factors usually contribute to one vehicle colliding with another, or to a single-vehicle accident. Hidden within that haystack of factors are potential needles pointing to one or more party’s legal liability.
It is often a lawyer’s job to try and find those needles. Why? Because when pursuing justice for injured clients, experienced Uber accident injury lawyers know that the more parties with potential liability for paying damages to their clients they can find, the more likely their client is to recover the maximum compensation available under the law.
Consider a typical scenario for any car accident: a T-bone collision between two vehicles, one an Uber ride, at an intersection late one rainy night, injuring the Uber’s passenger. It is always possible, of course, that the facts will show the Uber driver to have been 100 percent at fault for causing the crash. In that event, the Uber driver’s insurance should pay damages to the injured passenger, plain and simple.
But suppose the accident happened at an intersection with a malfunctioning street light, and that the other driver was drunk, having 30-minute earlier been massively over-served at a local bar before getting behind the wheel. Who might have a legal obligation to pay the passenger’s damages then?
An experienced Uber car accident lawyer would recognize potential liability by at least three parties in addition to the Uber driver in that case:
All of which is to say, though accidents involving Uber rides usually involve an extra layer of insurance, experienced accident lawyers like the team at The Patel Firm know not to stop looking for other parties from whom to seek compensation on their clients’ behalf.
Because of the ever-increasing popularity of Uber and similar rideshare services, clients of The Patel Firm frequently have questions about their rights after getting into an accident that somehow involves an Uber driver. We answer a few of the most common questions below:
Just because someone has an Uber sticker on their windshield, it does not necessarily mean their “extra” Uber insurance coverage will apply to your injuries. You need to know whether the Uber driver was logged into the Uber app at the time of the collision, and whether the driver was in the process of fulfilling a ride request. Texas law entitles you to this information. Speak with an experienced Uber accident lawyer for help obtaining it.
This is a tricky question, the answer to which depends on interpretation of Texas insurance law and a close analysis of what the driver was doing at the moment of the crash. Speak with a lawyer right away.
As we said above, maybe. Come talk with the team at The Patel Firm about why you think Uber, the company, should be on the hook for your injuries. You might be onto something; this is an evolving area of the law.
First of all, if an Uber driver (or anyone else) assault you, report the attack to law enforcement right away. Then, call an experienced Uber personal injury lawyer. You likely have significant legal rights to compensation, including (potentially) against the company itself.
End the ride as soon as it is safe to do so, even if that means getting out of the vehicle before you reach your destination. Then, report the driver to Uber and, if appropriate, law enforcement. Taking those steps is a good way to help keep yourself and other rideshare customers safe when using a ridesharing app.
Technology continues to change and shape our lives, often for the better, sometimes for the worse. Ridesharing apps have ushered in a new era of transportation convenience throughout Texas and across the company. With innovation, however, comes new and at-times unexpected complications.
At The Patel Firm, we expect the scope of Uber’s legal responsibility to its customers to continue evolving as more accidents happen, and as more clients come to us seeking help in obtaining compensation for accident-related injuries. We are ready for that evolution.
If an accident or incident involving an Uber driver has left you injured or traumatized, contact The Patel Firm today at (361) 400-2036 or online to speak with a member of our team.