Uber is now operating a service state wide across Mississippi and that’s great as far as providing some competition in the arena of public transportation goes. It doesn’t make riding home any safer and it’s quite possible that anyone in Mississippi, whether an Uber passenger or not, could end up on a hospital bed after an Uber accident.
It’s taken time for Uber to get to the stage where state wide expansion has been possible. As recently as 2015 it seemed doubtful whether the company would be able to overcome obstacles in its way from regional city authorities, but the law was changed in 2016 to override local objections to both Uber and Lyft operating regionally. By 2017, Mississippi became the country’s 30th state to permit widespread commercial ride sharing services.
As Uber has become more ubiquitous, it is inevitable that the number of people injured and killed as a result of Uber accidents has increased. If you have been injured by an Uber driver, whether you were actually in an Uber vehicle or a pedestrian, cyclist or other road user, you have the right to sue Uber and / or the driver and claim compensation.
Uber’s current insurance arrangements
Many people use Uber without any problems, but if you are considering using Uber, or any other ride sharing service, it might be worth learning about whether you are covered in the event that you are injured.
Uber is not an employer as such. It does not work like a taxi service. It is basically a technology service that connects people looking for transport with those people who have vehicles and are ready to take someone somewhere. These services tend to be cheaper than ordinary cab services and just as quick to call up, as long as you have the appropriate app. However, there can be problems if there is an accident which are different in character from a taxi or public transport accident.
After a lot of initial complaints, Uber now provides public liability insurance which does cover Uber drivers and passengers, as well as some third parties, in certain circumstances. A lot depends on exactly what the Uber driver was doing at the time of the accident. As the Uber driver is not a regular ‘employee’ of Uber, he or she must use personal liability insurance if the vehicle is not carrying a passenger or available for carrying a passenger at the time of an accident. So, if you are a cyclist and are hit by a driver who does not have a passenger, you will not be covered by Uber’s insurance policy. You will have to fight the driver’s own insurer to obtain compensation instead. The same applies to anyone in the vehicle who is not a passenger if there is an accident.
If the Uber driver becomes ‘available,’ but is not actually carrying a passenger, any liability if there is an accident also falls to the driver’s insurer, although Uber does provide limited cover as a top up if the driver has requested this sort of coverage.
The only time that Uber’s own insurance policy covers anyone at all is if the Uber driver is actually carrying a passenger. Then a 1 million dollar public liability cover applies to the driver, any passengers and third parties. There is also an additional uninsured / underinsured policy which Uber provides if you, as an Uber passenger, are hit by another driver who was uninsured or underinsured.
Uber drivers are not employees of Uber, but individual contractors
So far, so good. However, there are additional risks which many Uber passengers and third parties may not be aware of. Uber’s own insurance carrier tends to regard potential claimants as a nuisance and will work hard to find a way to deny a claim. For example, if the Uber driver was drunk at the time, or driving recklessly, or even distracted by a call by another passenger, then any claimant may find that their claim is denied. Uber’s liability would not extend to an Uber driver found to be acting this way, as they are a ’private contractor,’ not an employee. Injured accident victims may still be able to sue the driver, but may then encounter resistance from the driver’s own personal insurer who may take a dim view of their client taking passengers for profit and this may not be covered by the driver’s policy.
The long and the short of it is that if you do intend to use Uber, be aware that there is an element of risk involved which counterbalances the savings compared to taking the bus or a taxi. If you are injured as a passenger, or as a third party, and find it difficult to obtain compensation you should contact a Jackson Uber accident attorney. Call the Diaz Law Firm in Jackson MS as soon as you can at 601-607-3456.