Have you been a passenger in an Uber vehicle? Uber and its closest competitor, Lyft, are in nearly every American city and many towns including Tampa, Lakeland, Winter Haven and the surrounding areas. To be an Uber driver, you only need to be 21 years of age, have a 4-door vehicle that is no more than 10 years old, and have personal liability insurance. To get a ride, individuals use an app on their smartphone that signals an Uber driver in the vicinity where to pick them up and where to drop them off.
Uber vehicles are not taxis and do not have to meet many of the same state and local regulations that govern taxis. Drivers do not need commercial driver’s licenses either. But, like any other vehicle, there are accidents and passengers and others are injured or killed.
Uber drivers, according to the company, are independent contractors and not employees. Under state law, anyone who owns a motor vehicle in Florida is required to have minimal PIP coverage of $10,000 and property damage of $10,000. Uber drivers, however, must be sure that their policy allows them to use their vehicle for commercial purposes, such as transporting passengers for a fee.
So, if you live in Tampa, Winter Haven, Lakeland or any of the surrounding communities, what happens if you are in an accident involving an Uber driver? The main question is what insurance coverage is available–the driver’s personal policy, Uber’s policy, or your own?
What Coverages May Be Available in an Uber Accident?
If you are involved in an accident involving an Uber vehicle, you can look to your own PIP (personal injury protection) benefits, provided you have your own auto insurance or live with a relative who has it. PIP means that regardless of who was at fault, you can recover up to $10,000 for your medical expenses and wage loss, or no more than $2,500 if you are not diagnosed with an emergency medical condition.
As of July 1, 2017, you can recover PIP benefits from Uber, if you do not otherwise qualify to receive it under your own policy or that of your relative with whom you live, if the Uber driver had the app on but was not carrying a passenger. Injured persons who could claim PIP benefits from Uber are pedestrians, bike riders, or persons in a non-Uber car.
To qualify for PIP benefits, you must meet the following:
- Receive medical care from a physician (not a chiropractor)
- Receive care within 14 days of the accident
- A physician’ report or record stating that you were unable to work for a time because of your accident injuries if you are claiming lost income
Uber Driver’s Personal Policy
Florida law now requires that Uber, and other ride-sharing drivers, possess the following auto liability coverages that is above the state minimum:
- Coverage of at least $50,000 for bodily injury and death
- Coverage of at least $100,000 for each accident or incident for bodily injuries and death
- Property damage coverage of at least $25,000
- PIP coverage as required by law
- Uninsured and underinsured coverage is not required in Florida but drivers are strongly encouraged to have it
These coverages apply whenever the app is on but there are no passengers in the Uber car when the accident occurs and is the fault of the Uber driver. Again, this would only cover injured persons who were pedestrians or in a non-Uber car.
This means that any one individual injured by the fault of an Uber driver can recover up to $50,000, while the $100,000 figure covers all individuals who are making injury claims against the driver. The $25,000 is for property damage.
If you are injured in an accident caused by a driver who happened to be an Uber driver but was only driving for his or her own personal reasons, you can only recover whatever policy that driver possessed, which may be only $10,000 for PIP benefits. In this case, you can look to your own policy for underinsured coverage for additional funds.
Uber’s Insurance Policy
Uber provides for a $1M policy if you are injured while a passenger in an Uber and the accident was the fault of the Uber driver. In a 2016 accident in St. Petersburg, an Uber driver attempted to make a U-turn on 4th Street to go north but drove into the path of another vehicle. The Uber driver was killed and his passenger seriously injured. In this case, the Uber passenger could make a claim under Uber’s policy that would cover his injuries for up to $1M.
In an accident in early 2017, a Lakeland physician was injured while a passenger in an Uber when the Uber driver crashed while attempting to pass another car on Bayshore Boulevard near Swann Avenue. In this case, the Uber driver was not the owner of the vehicle, a violation of Uber policy, and fled the scene. But, even though the driver was in violation of company policy, Uber should still be liable for the passenger’s injuries since its app was on and it was receiving benefits from an Uber driver with a passenger. In this case, the doctor was also suing the driver and the owner of the car along with Uber.
If you were a passenger in an Uber car and injured by the fault of another non-Uber driver, then you could have an injury claim against that driver. However, there are many situations when that driver is uninsured.
In such cases, Uber’s policy will also cover you for up to $1M if you were an Uber passenger who was injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Uber’s policy should also cover you regardless if the Uber driver’s own policy had lapsed or the driver was never insured when the accident occurred.
To protect yourself, be sure you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM) with your own auto policy. You are also covered if you live with a relative who has such coverage.
Also, you should have under-insured motorist coverage (UIM) in case the driver has minimal coverage. For instance, if the Uber driver who caused the accident did not have the app on or was driving for only personal reasons and only had the minimum coverage under state law of $10,000 for PIP benefits, but you have $50,000 in UIM coverage, then you could recover up to $40,000 in additional compensation for your injuries.
Damages in an Uber Accident
If you bring an injury claim against the Uber driver, or other driver who caused the accident, you may be entitled to certain damages. These may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Emotional distress
- Diminished or lessened enjoyment of life
- Mileage reimbursement for medical appointments
Discuss your possible damages with an attorney from the Brooks Law Group in Tampa, Winter Haven, or Lakeland.
Contact the Brooks Law Group
Uber accidents can be complicated and you may be unsure of what compensation or funds are available to you. A personal injury lawyer from the Brooks Law Group can handle your injury case from beginning to end, including filing your claim, contacting your doctors, and making sure you receive all benefits available to you.
We do not recover anything nor charge you any costs until you receive a settlement in your favor. Contact the Brooks Law Group at 1-800-Law-3030 as soon as possible if you were injured in an Uber in Tampa, Winter Haven, Lakeland or our surrounding communities, or in any other kind of accident, to be sure you receive the most possible compensation or funds for your injuries.