Rideshare services like Uber make traveling across the city of Columbus more convenient for anyone. You open an app on your phone to find the nearest available vehicle and you are ready to go wherever you need. However, the fact that Uber drivers are not professional drivers and are not subject to the same strict background checks as taxicab drivers, Uber accidents are very frequent. In many cases, either Uber passengers or other car drivers are injured in head-on collisions or other types of traffic accidents. In such a case, whom do you sue to recover your financial losses? Do you have a case against Uber or the driver? An experienced Columbus Uber accident attorney at Babin Law will analyze your case carefully and give you all the answers you need.
The main challenge in a rideshare accident claim is not finding the at-fault party, but determining which type of insurance coverage is applicable to your case: the negligent driver's personal insurance policy or the commercial insurance policy that Uber must carry? Without the assistance of experienced attorneys, many Uber accident victims accept a lowball settlement amount, which would not even cover all their hospital bills.
What Is the Position of Uber Drivers as Liable Parties in an Accident?
Uber and other ridesharing companies have fought hard to establish the fact that their drivers are not employees, but independent contractors. Why would they spend so much on legal representation and lobbying for this purpose? The reason is this: businesses are not vicariously liable for the negligent actions of independent contractors.
Thus, if an Uber driver causes a motor vehicle accident due to distracted driving or drunk driving while they are active on the app, you will not be able to add Uber to the responsible parties for your injuries and sue them. However, depending on the circumstances and the type of accident, you may benefit from the commercial insurance coverage provided by Uber.
How Accident Circumstances Influence Injury Claims
There used to be a lot of confusion concerning what it means for an Uber driver to be "on the job". Do they have to be engaged in a ride? Do they have to be traveling to pick up a client? Uber tried to minimize the extent of commercial auto insurance policy coverage to cases when the rideshare driver actually had a passenger in their vehicle.
However, House Bill 237, which went into effect in March 2016, clarified this issue. As long as a Uber driver is logged on to the app and available to accept ride requests, they are considered to be on duty.
There are differences, however, in the type of commercial insurance coverage available to accident victims, depending on whether the at-fault driver had a passenger in the car or not. Here are the distinctions made by the law:
If the Driver Is Active on the App but Not Engaged in a Ride
An Uber driver can cause a pedestrian accident, bicycle accident, or motor vehicle accident while active on the app but not carrying a client or driving to pick them up. In this case, the financial compensation available to the victims through the commercial auto insurance policy is:
- at least $50,000 for bodily injury or death per person
- at least $100,000 for bodily injury or death per accident
- at least $25,000 for property damage
If the Uber Driver Is Engaged in a Ride
If the victim suffers accident injuries while the driver was transporting a client, then the insurance coverage available for severe injuries, death, and property damage is at least $1,000,000. This makes all the difference in the world for a person who suffered catastrophic injuries (such as spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries) and needs special treatments, surgeries, and a long period of recovery in a hospital or rehabilitation center.
What Can a Columbus Uber Accident Attorney Do to Help Your Case?
In theory, you can simply file an insurance claim with Uber and win the exact amount of compensation you stated in your claim. In reality, the insurance adjuster representing Uber's insurer will do their best to reduce both your economic damages and non-economic damages.
For a person who suffered severe injuries and emotional trauma as a result of a traffic accident, it is almost unbearable to have any statement you make twisted and interpreted in a way that makes you appear to be at fault. The sad reality is that accident victims rarely manage to win fair settlements with insurance companies when they try to represent themselves.
An experienced Columbus Uber accident attorney will hold the negligent party accountable for their actions and attempt to win the maximum compensation for your losses.
This is what an experienced Uber accident lawyer in Columbus will do for you:
1. Investigate the Circumstances of the Uber Accident
The first step in proving that you have a case is to demonstrate that:
- the other party owed you a duty of care
- they breached their duty and caused the accident
- you suffered injuries as a result of the accident
- the injuries lead to economic losses
Whether we are talking about head-on collisions, rear-end collisions or side-impact collisions, it is important to demonstrate that a distracted or reckless driver breached their duty of care. Your Columbus Uber accident attorney can do this by examining the accident report prepared by the police, talking to eyewitnesses, looking at CCTV footage or any evidence you collected at the accident scene (photos, videos), or even by hiring accident reconstructionists.
2. Determine the Proportion of Fault of All Parties Involved
In some cases, such as reckless driving or drunk driving, fault is easy to attribute in a greater proportion to one party. This is extremely important because it affects the amount of compensation you may receive at the end of your legal action.
The comparative negligence principle applicable in any motor vehicle accident in Ohio states that your proportion of fault must be no greater than the other parties' combined proportions of fault. Moreover, the compensation you demand in your legal claim shall be reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident.
3. Evaluate All the Types of Damages You May Recover
The Columbus Uber accident attorney will make an accurate calculation of your economic damages, as well as a fair estimate of the non-economic damages you may recover.
Economic damages usually cover:
- hospital bills
- costs with medical care (including long term care)
- lost wages
- costs with assistive devices if you are left with a permanent injury that causes a disability
Non-economic damages represent the compensation you deserve for:
- physical pain
- emotional trauma
- mental anguish
- loss of enjoyment of life
- loss of consortium
In special cases, at the end of a personal injury lawsuit, the judge may also award punitive damages. This additional compensation is a form of punishment for the reckless driver who acted with gross negligence or intention in causing your Uber accident.
4. Negotiate Your Settlement Amount
An insurance company has dozens of adjusters on its payroll - all of them trained and experienced in avoiding paying settlement amounts. They know that accident victims are vulnerable and easy to persuade to accept a quick settlement. Or, they can try to convince you that your proportion of fault makes you ineligible to demand any kind of financial settlement.
Of course, these tactics do not work with an experienced Columbus Uber accident attorney. They know the law, they know your rights and they know how the accident happened. Thus, they can bring solid arguments which prove that you deserve the financial compensation and you would win your case in court if the insurer does not accept an amicable settlement.
5. Represent You in an Uber Accident Lawsuit
Some insurance companies believe that they stand a better chance to win in a trial. Thus, they refuse to settle. At this point, it is critical to have professional legal representation. A Columbus Uber accident attorney with trial experience can persuade the judge that you have the right to seek compensation and receive the maximum amount allowed by law for your injuries, property damage, financial losses, pain and suffering.
Hire a Columbus Uber Accident Attorney Dedicated to You
At Babin Law, we are committed to holding the at-fault party accountable for your injuries and losses, no matter who they are: a drunk driver or a big insurance company. We have experience both in negotiations and in court and will fight to win your case.
We know that you are already burdened by medical care costs, so we do not take any fees until we win your case. We work on a contingency fee basis so that every Uber accident victim can afford excellent representation by an experienced Columbus Uber accident attorney.
For this reason, you should reach out to us as soon as possible after your accident. You must remember that the statute of limitations in Ohio for personal injury cases is only 2 (two) years after the date of your accident, so schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us: 833-SURVIVORS!