A car accident is a sudden and devastating event that can turn your life upside down. In addition to causing injury, an accident can take a serious emotional and financial toll. Even in situations where it can be proven that you are not at fault, the process of negotiating and receiving a settlement or judgment can be long, drawn-out, and confusing.
Unfortunately, if anyone involved with your accident was driving for Uber, your case just got more complicated. This is because a car being driven for Uber is being used commercially. It is, therefore, not covered by most personal car insurance policies. Instead, Uber provides insurance for all drivers who are logged in and active on their app.
While Uber being involved with your car accident makes matters more complicated, the good news is that Uber drivers are protected by plenty of insurance and generally have high coverage limits. For example, when carrying a passenger, every Uber driver carries at least $1 million worth of liability coverage.
The information provided on this page is NOT intended to be a replacement for qualified legal advice. If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber driver, we strongly recommend you talk to a licensed legal professional in your state. Every case is different, and each state has its own laws that govern the rules and procedures of auto accident litigation. Only your attorney will be able to provide guidance for your specific situation.
- What should I do if I get in an accident as a passenger in an Uber?
- What should I do if I get in an accident with an Uber driver?
- What should an Uber driver do if they get into an accident?
- Avoiding an insurance gap
- Uber insurance coverage periods
- Does Uber cover your car in an accident?
- Should I report the accident to Uber?
- Does Uber contact your insurance?
- Are Ubers covered with insurance?
- What is Uber liable for?
- Can you sue Uber for an accident?
- Should I file an Uber settlement?
- The Uber settlement process
- Settling your liability claim with Uber
- Taking your liability claim to court
- Typical Uber Liability Lawsuit Timeline
- The Next Steps
What should I do if I get in an accident as a passenger in an Uber?
If an Uber you are riding in gets in an accident, the most important thing is your safety. It is important to take any accident in an Uber seriously, even if it is seemingly minor. Failing to take the correct steps immediately after the accident can lead to problems down the road, especially because many accident victims do not feel the extent of their injuries right away due to adrenaline.
If you are able to do so, you should quickly exit the vehicle and find somewhere safe and well-lit to stand. You should make sure the police are notified. You may also receive a call from Uber during this time. They will ask questions regarding the circumstances of the accident. If you believe there is any chance whatsoever that you have sustained a serious injury as a result of the crash, you should seek care at the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
Fortunately for passengers who are in an Uber during a car accident, Uber has plenty of insurance to cover any medical bills you may incur. You may also be entitled to additional damages if your injuries cause you to lose time from work or any other damages resulting from the accident.
Thankfully, for Uber passengers who are involved in accidents, there are no issues with liability. As a result, their cases often end up being easier to settle. For passengers with minor injuries and few damages, it may be possible to settle your claim without help from a personal injury lawyer. However, we strongly recommend anyone who is seriously injured or misses time from work as a result of an Uber accident consult a qualified attorney ASAP to ensure they are properly compensated for their loss.
What should I do if I get in an accident with an Uber driver?
If a car you are driving is involved in an accident with an Uber driver, there are some things you should do immediately regardless of whether or not the accident was your fault. Here are 10 important steps to follow after any car accident:
- Do not leave! Even if the accident is minor, driving away from the scene of the accident is dangerous and illegal.
- Prevent more accidents. Especially when it is dark, it’s important to take immediate steps to make sure other cars on the road can see you in time to safely navigate past. This may involve moving vehicles or setting up flares.
- Call 911. Even if injuries and property damage seems minor, a police report is needed to file insurance claims. Especially in accidents involving Uber, having the police on the scene ASAP is important.
- Make sure the record stays accurate. When the police arrive, the investigating officer will want to speak to all drivers involved in the accident. It’s important to stick to only the details that you are sure of and do not speculate or exaggerate.
- Take lots of pictures. Hopefully, you have a phone or other device that is able to take pictures at the scene. Taking pictures of both your car and the scene from every angle you can think of can help tell an accurate story later.
- Exchange info. Make sure you do not leave the scene of the accident without having the personal and insurance information of the other driver. Normally this information will be collected by the police and available on your copy of the on-site crash report. If this is a written report, double-check that you are able to clearly read the information before leaving.
NOTE: Uber drivers are covered by different insurance policies depending on their status in the app. It is not necessary to sort this all out at the scene of the crash, just make sure you have some valid insurance information, even if it’s just their personal policies.
- Report the accident to your insurance. Even if the accident was not your fault, it is imperative that you notify your insurance company ASAP. Immediate reporting and full cooperation is a requirement of many insurance policies. Some may also assist with rental cars while things are being sorted out.
- Go to the ER. Even if you feel fine immediately following a car crash, you still may have a serious injury. Often, adrenaline makes it difficult to feel the extent of your injuries for 1-2 days after an accident. This is especially true if the accident has caused the airbag to deploy. In this case, going to the emergency room is usually the correct course of action.
- Stay organized. If your injuries are serious, the paperwork will start to accumulate quickly. It’s important to keep all of your paperwork organized so that reports, medical records, and bills don’t get lost in the shuffle.
- Talk to a lawyer. If there are physical injuries or property damage resulting from your accident, you should make sure to consult an attorney as soon as you are able. Especially if the accident was not your fault, a good personal injury lawyer will be able to make sure that you are treated fairly and receive the compensation you deserve.
What should an Uber driver do if they get into an accident?
This is probably the last thing an Uber driver will want to read after getting into an accident, but a harsh reality of being an independent contractor is that much of the risk of getting into a car accident falls on the shoulders of the Uber drivers themselves. While Uber does carry liability insurance on all of its drivers, there is very little built-in protection for drivers, their vehicles, and their income. Here are a few things that every Uber driver should do BEFORE getting into an accident:
- For less than 4 cents for every mile driven with a passenger, Uber offers optional injury protection that will ensure medical bills are paid in the event of an accident while driving for Uber. They also will provide protection for lost income as a result of an injury.
- Uber drivers should make sure to contact their personal insurance carrier to add rideshare protection to their personal policy. This is required in some states, but having this additional protection is a smart idea in every state.
- Because murky liability situations can make lawsuits far more difficult, we highly recommend every rideshare driver install a car dashcam in order to have video evidence of any crash you are involved in. Even if the accident was not your fault, a “he said, she said” situation greatly reduces your chances of recovering damages you are owed.
- Because your insurance coverage through the Uber app changes based on your status, it is highly recommended that you keep your movement to a minimum while waiting for a call. Your insurance coverage improves substantially once you begin responding to a pickup request.
Avoiding an insurance gap
Lots of Uber drivers are assuming a lot more risk than they understand. This is because they trust that the amount of insurance coverage required to drive for Uber is enough to cover them in any situation. However, there are two common situations where the average Uber driver is in danger of being exposed to more risk than they may be anticipating.
- The insurance provided by Uber does not cover damage to your car when you are logged into the app, but not actively responding to a passenger request. Uber Coverage Periods
- Even if comprehensive coverage is active, the payout is based on the value of the car. Drivers who owe more on their car loan than their car is worth may find themselves stuck with the difference. While many car owners carry gap insurance for this situation, most policies are voided if the vehicle was being used commercially at the time of an accident.
Uber insurance coverage periods
One of the factors that make insurance claims involving Uber more complicated is that turning on the Uber driver app instantly turns a vehicle from a personal vehicle into a commercial one. This means that there is a whole new set of rules that come into play whenever your app is turned on. To further complicate matters, the amount of commercial insurance provided by Uber constantly changes based on a driver’s state in the app. Every Uber driver logged in to the app is in one of three phases with big insurance implications.
Here is a brief explanation of the insurance provided to Uber drivers during each phase within the app:
- App Closed: When the Uber app is closed or not logged in, the driver is covered exclusively by their private insurance.
- Phase 1: Phase 1 is when a driver has logged into the Uber app and is waiting for a ride request but has not received one yet. A driver returns to phase 1 immediately after dropping off a passenger. During this period, Uber maintains only third-party liability insurance on your vehicle.
- Phase 2: Phase 2 begins once an Uber driver clicks “OK” to accept a ride request. From this point forward, the third-party liability coverage increases to $1 million. Damage to the vehicle is also covered now with a $1000 deductible.
- Phase 3: Once the passenger is picked up, phase 3 begins. Nothing changes for the driver or their vehicle, but the liability insurance is now extended to the passengers in the vehicle.
The lack of comprehensive coverage in phase 1 is the biggest hidden liability for many Uber drivers, this is the reason that it is important to make sure to take whatever rideshare upgrades are available on your personal insurance.
Once the dust around an accident settles and everyone is recovering from their injuries, the attention turns to the matter of who is going to pay for all the property damage and medical bills incurred as a result of a crash. This is where it often starts to get complicated as different states have different rules for how liability is determined and who must pay for the damages.
In general, the liable party, meaning the one who is at fault for causing the accident, is responsible for paying the damages of any other parties involved in the crash. Of course, in real life, it is rarely this simple and it is often difficult for the parties and their insurance companies to agree about who is at fault. Also, there are many instances where multiple drivers make mistakes leading to an accident.
There are a few different theories of liability that are used depending on which state your accident occurs in. To give you a basic idea of how situations with unclear or shared liability are handled in your state, consult the section below. While we hope you find it useful, please remember it is no substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney in your area. There are many small details to consider in every accident and only a lawyer who is licensed in your state is able to provide you with the quality representation you deserve.
- Pure Contributory Negligence Rule
Used in: Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia
This is the most strict form of liability. In states that use this rule, drivers who are judged to be even 1% at fault for the accident are ineligible to recover any damages from other drivers. This rule has become less popular in recent years as it has been criticized for punishing drivers who have made small mistakes while letting drivers who have made much more flagrant offenses off too easily.
- Pure Comparative Fault System
Used in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington
Essentially the opposite of pure contributory negligence, the pure comparative fault system allows every party involved in an accident to recover damages based on the amount of fault placed on each driver. While this is considered to be fairer to the parties who are assigned a small amount of blame, they are still not protected from counter-suits from other drivers who are more responsible than they are.
- Modified Comparative Fault System
Used in: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia
Addressing the two main criticisms of the two liability rules listed above. The modified comparative fault system allows any driver who is deemed to be less than 50% responsible to seek damages (51% in many states). Any amount awarded in court will be reduced based on the amount of damage the plaintiff is assigned. Drivers who are determined to be more than 50% at fault are not eligible to recover any damages under this rule.
- Slight/Gross Negligence Comparative Fault System
Used in: South Dakota
Used only in South Dakota, the slight/gross negligence comparative fault system is similar to the modified comparative fault system. However, instead of using a specific percentage cutoff to determine if a party is eligible to recover damages, the statute says that no plaintiff may recover any damages if they contributed to the accident with “anything other than slight negligence.”
Does Uber cover your car in an accident?
Depending on the circumstances of your car accident, you may be entitled to having your car replaced or repaired by Uber. There may be a deductible you are responsible for depending on liability and the app status at the time of the crash.
For non-Uber drivers: In general, you will be dealing with mostly your own insurance provider during the initial stages following the crash. Your insurance company should move to get you back on the road as quickly as possible, even if liability has not been decided yet. In order to do this, your insurance company will send an appraiser to view your vehicle and assess the damage. They will then arrange to have your car repaired or declare it a total loss and pay you for the value of your car. They may also provide a rental car for you to use while your car is repaired.
Depending on your insurance policy, you will likely have to pay a deductible between $200 and $2500. This amount will be refunded to you in the event the Uber driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident. However, be warned that insurance companies can often be slow to do this.
Even in situations that are fairly cut and dry, the involved insurance providers will want to collect all possible evidence before making any decisions about liability. It will often be necessary to wait for the release of the police report to provide clarity before decisions are made, especially when the drivers disagree about how the accident happened. Depending on the location of the accident, it may take up to two weeks for this report to be released.
In accidents where the only expense is fixing damage to a car, most drivers choose to deal with their insurance company rather than hiring a lawyer. However, if there are additional damages such as medical bills or a significant loss of income, you should contact a qualified lawyer right away.
For Uber drivers: Depending on the status at the app at the time of the crash, you can expect different levels of coverage from Uber’s driver insurance following an accident. Uber does not provide rental cars for drivers while their vehicle is out of commission. Here is how Uber drivers are covered against automobile damages:
- Accident while in Phase 1 (app on, Waiting for Request) – This is the nightmare scenario for an Uber driver without the proper rideshare coverage in their personal policy. If a driver causes an accident while in this state, Uber’s insurance will cover any damages caused to other parties, but does not cover any damages to the Uber driver’s car. This driver would be able to recover for the full value of the damage if someone else caused the accident.
- Accident while in Phase 2 (app on, En Route to Pick Up Rider) – If you are in an accident while on the way to pick up a passenger, you are covered by Uber’s insurance for the full value of your car with a $1000 deductible. This means you are responsible for the first $1000 worth of damages. If another party is at fault for the accident, their insurance is responsible for reimbursing you for the deductible as well as any other damages incurred on your behalf, especially your medical bills and loss of income. You will want to consult a personal injury attorney to make sure you are treated fairly.
- Accident while in Phase 3 (app on, Rider in Car) – Like during phase 2, Uber still maintains comprehensive insurance coverage on your vehicle during this phase, meaning you can be assured your car will be fixed or replaced no matter who is at fault. Also, during both phases 2 and 3, your Uber insurance expands to include coverage for instances when you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Should I report the accident to Uber?
For non-Uber drivers: Drivers who are in an accident with an Uber driver are under no obligation to contact Uber about the accident. It is far more important for drivers to notify their own insurance company as quickly after a crash as possible.
After the accident, you will likely be contacted by the insurance company that represents Uber, they will want to ask you questions as part of their investigation into the accident. They will likely want to conduct a recorded interview by phone in order to learn about and document the crash. It is your decision whether or not you wish to submit to this interview. If you have retained a lawyer to represent you in this matter, it is illegal for insurance companies to talk to you directly and should instead direct all requests for information to your representation.
For Uber drivers: You will likely get a phone call from an Uber representative shortly after the crash. While you should contact them and explain the details of the accident in order to keep your Uber account in good standing, it is far more important to provide any police officers on scene with the information they require and make sure any injuries you have sustained are attended to.
If you had a passenger in the car at the time of the accident and they are not injured, you may want to encourage them to give a statement to an Uber representative. A contemporaneous statement from a witness riding in your car can go a long way in helping prove that an accident was not your fault.
Once it is reported to Uber that your car has been in an accident, you will be required to have your car inspected by an approved repair shop before your driver’s account is reactivated in the Uber app.
Does Uber contact your insurance?
For non-Uber drivers: After an accident with an Uber driver, you should contact your insurance provider right away. If you provided your insurance information at the scene of a crash, you can be positive that your insurance company will be contacted by the other party’s insurance company within a few days.
For Uber drivers: If you are involved in an accident as an Uber driver, you actually have two insurance companies working on your behalf. Before doing anything else, you should contact your personal insurance company and tell them the details of the accident. They will then get in touch with your Uber insurance to decide which company will take the lead moving forward.
No matter the circumstances of your accident, you should never delay or avoid contact with your insurance company after the accident. If you believe the other party is at fault and their insurance company refuses to accept liability, you should make sure to contact a lawyer ASAP.
Are Ubers covered with insurance?
All drivers who are logged into Uber have at least some insurance coverage whenever they are logged into the app. As a rule of thumb, Uber carries a large amount of liability insurance on any driver logged into the app. The limits on liability increase to a full $1 million dollars when a passenger is riding in the car.
Unfortunately for Uber drivers, their insurance coverage through the app is not as robust. When a driver is logged in and waiting for a passenger request, Uber does not provide any insurance against damage to the car or uninsured. In order to account for this risk, we highly recommend Uber drivers add rideshare protection to their personal insurance policies. Failure to do this could result in a situation where you are responsible for the full value of your car.
What is Uber liable for?
Technically, because every Uber driver is an independent contractor, the Uber corporation is not liable for any accidents caused by any of the drivers on their platform. However, Uber does provide liability insurance for their drivers at all points in time while they are on the road. This means that you can be assured that any driver using Uber has adequate insurance if they cause an accident.
Can you sue Uber for an accident?
No, every Uber driver is personally responsible for any damages caused by their own driving. This is mainly because Uber drivers are not classified as employees, but instead are independent contractors. This is mostly a semantic difference because you can sue the driver directly and the insurance company hired by Uber will be the one to handle the claim and pay any settlement you are owed as a result.
Should I file an Uber settlement?
No matter who is at fault for an accident, drivers can expect to have their car repaired or replaced by their insurance company. If you have been injured in an accident that is someone else’s fault, you are likely to be entitled to compensation for the injury, for money lost as a result of the accident, and for pain and suffering. There are two types of claims that can arise from a car accident, and insurance companies will deal with each of them separately.
- Auto claim: Every car accident that causes damage to one or more insured vehicles generates an auto claim. The purpose of this claim is to get all drivers safely back on the road as quickly as possible. The maximum amount a driver has to pay in this situation is the amount of the deductible stipulated in their insurance policies. These kinds of claims can generally be handled without legal assistance.
- Third-party liability claim: In accidents where one party is at fault, their insurance company will accept liability and open up liability claims for all persons injured in the accident except for the negligent driver. The purpose of this claim is to compensate victims for the disruption in their lives and for other losses caused by the accident. These types of claims can be long and drawn out and are best handled with assistance from qualified legal professionals.
Here is a brief overview of what you can expect your Uber settlement process to look like depending on your role in the accident.
Because you were not driving your car at the time of the accident, there will be no auto claim opened on your behalf.
Third-party liability claim
If you are injured by a car while you are not driving yourself, you are almost certainly entitled to a third-party liability claim unless you were doing something grossly negligent like jaywalking or not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. We highly recommend consulting a licensed attorney who is familiar with local law before accepting any settlement offered.
For non-Uber drivers
You can expect your insurance company to repair or replace your car quickly after an accident. If your car is determined to be a total loss by the appraiser who looks over it, the amount you will be paid for the car will be based on similar cars sold in the area. Before accepting their valuation of your car and settling your auto claim, you should make sure to do your own research.
Third-party liability claim
Drivers who are injured or suffer other damages as a result of an accident that was caused by an Uber driver are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and for pain and suffering caused by the accident. The amount of liability coverage carried by an Uber driver varies depending on the current state of their app and makes a huge difference in how much you can expect to recover in a settlement.
When an Uber driver is logged into the app but not responding to a call, they carry at least $50,000 worth of third-party liability coverage. When responding to a call or giving a ride, the coverage increases to $1 million.
For Uber drivers
For Uber drivers who get in an accident while on the job, things are a little more complicated and financially perilous. When a driver is logged in to the app and waiting for a ride request, Uber only provides liability coverage, meaning that a driver must rely on their personal insurance in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, many Uber drivers are operating without the proper insurance and unwittingly exposing themselves to massive risk.
Thankfully for Uber drivers who are responding to a call at the time of an accident, this gap does not exist while the driver is actively completing a ride. During a ride, an Uber driver’s vehicle is covered with comprehensive coverage for the value of their vehicle. There is a $1000 deductible that applies to this coverage.
Third-party liability claim
Uber drivers who are injured due to the negligence of other drivers are generally entitled to recover damages from the driver who is at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, however, there is another potential gap for drivers who are in phase one.
Because an uninsured or underinsured motorist’s coverage does not kick in until a driver begins responding to a call, getting hit by an uninsured motorist while waiting for a call can leave you in “no man’s land” with no policy to pay for your injuries. Drivers who have added optional injury protection through Uber are covered during this period which mitigates this risk somewhat.
Uber drivers en route to pick up passengers, or who are giving a ride, are covered in the case of being hit by an uninsured motorist. However, this has the potential to make an already complicated liability claim far more complicated. Because uninsured motorist rules vary wildly by state, we strongly recommend any Uber driver who has been in an accident with an uninsured motorist contact a qualified attorney to review their case.
The Uber settlement process
Once it is determined you do have a valid claim, the settlement process begins. Depending on the type of your claim, the amount of your settlement and the length of time it will take to settle vary greatly. As a rule of thumb, auto claims generated from crashes are generally settled in only a few weeks after the accident. Liability claims, which can be worth far more, can take several months or even years to reach a final settlement.
Settling your Auto Claim with Uber
After your car is damaged in an accident, you should be sure to report it to your insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of who was at fault. If your car is unsuitable to drive after the accident, the police will have it towed and supply you with the name of the tow yard that it is being brought to. You will want to provide this information to your insurance company as quickly as possible so that they may begin the process of retrieving your car and assessing the damage.
Once your insurance company has had a chance to inspect the damage, they will determine if the vehicle should be repaired or be declared a “total loss” and replaced. This decision is made mainly based on whether or not the cost of the estimated repairs will exceed the total fair market value of the car in its pre-crash condition. The process for proceeding with your claim is different depending on what the decision is.
If your car is repairable
If the appraiser determines that the proper course of action is to have your car repaired, it is their responsibility to have it brought to a reputable repair shop and arrange for and pay for the repair. Depending on your specific auto insurance policy, you may or may not have a choice in which car repair shop is used. In order to be treated fairly, it’s important to read your auto insurance policy carefully and ask the right questions when talking to your insurance adjuster.
Your insurance adjuster is your main point of contact for resolving an auto claim. If you are a non-Uber driver, most of this process is handled through your own personal insurance. If you are an Uber driver with an eligible auto claim, you will be contacted by an adjuster who will work on your behalf to replace your car.
Important questions you may want to ask your insurance adjuster:
- “Can I choose the auto body shop the car is taken to?”
- “Has the other party accepted liability for the accident?”
- “What if my car runs poorly after it is repaired?”
- “Do I have the option to take cash and do the repairs myself?”
Your insurance company will pay for the repairs immediately, minus whatever deductible you owe, then take care of recovering any money from Uber’s insurance policy without anything additional required on your behalf. Your insurance provider will be able to waive or refund your deductible once the other party’s insurance has accepted liability.
If your car is deemed a total loss
If the appraiser determines the cost of having your car repaired is prohibitive, you will be paid in one lump sum for the value of the car in its condition immediately preceding the accident. The amount of this payment is based on what the insurance companies call the “actual cash value” of your car minus any applicable deductible. The process for deciding this value can take a few days and is a back and forth process between you and the appraiser.
To assess the “actual cash value” of your car, insurers use a combination of factors including your car’s make, model, features, mileage, and comparable cars being sold in your local market. Remember, you have to accept their offer before the value is settled on, so there is some room to negotiate. The most effective way to increase the offer of the value of the car is by doing your own research and finding similar cars being sold for higher prices in your area.
If the bank still holds the title to your totaled car, then the insurance payment will go to them first, with any excess amount being sent to you. If the amount owed on the car exceeds the amount of your settlement, you will still be liable for the remaining balance. You may have purchased gap insurance to protect you from this situation, but if you were driving for Uber at the time of the accident, there is a good chance your gap insurance claim will be null and void.
Settling your liability claim with Uber
If you’ve been injured in an accident and an Uber driver is at fault, then you may be entitled to compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. Uber uses a variety of different insurance companies depending on the driver’s location. Unlike an auto claim, a liability claim is far more complicated and ends up in court much more often. This is why the vast majority of claimants get a better result when they use the assistance of a licensed personal injury attorney to settle their claims.
Many people with personal injury claims resist using the services of a lawyer because they don’t want to lose any of their settlement money. However, the reality is most of the time, good legal representation ends up resulting in a larger settlement for the plaintiff, even after the lawyer’s fees are paid. Here are a few reasons having the right lawyer leads to a larger settlement:
- Insurance companies are more likely to take your demands seriously if you are represented by legal counsel. They understand that claimants with representation are much more likely to take them to court in the event a mutually agreeable settlement cannot be reached.
- An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to make sure all of your damages are calculated properly, making sure you are able to receive compensation for everything you are entitled to be compensated for. Your lawyer will also be able to write a proper demand letter to begin the negotiation process.
- Your lawyer may be able to work with your medical providers to reduce the cost of your medical bills after receiving a settlement, increasing the amount of the settlement left over for you.
- Most personal attorneys will agree to work on a contingency basis if they agree you have a strong case. This means that their services will not cost you anything unless they are able to recover a settlement or judgment on your behalf. This means there are usually no up-front fees for having a lawyer work on your behalf.
Get ready for the long haul
Especially if you are seriously injured from your accident, you should understand that there may be a long road to recovery and that things may take much longer than you anticipate. Here are some tips to consider in the days and weeks immediately following your accident:
- Get well first: Even though your car accident may place you in a bad financial situation, in the long term your health is what matters most. Additionally, you are unlikely to see any settlement money until you have been treated for your injuries and the long term effects of the crash have been evaluated by your doctor.
- Follow doctor’s orders: After a serious accident, your general physician will want to schedule a series of appointments while also referring you to a series of specialists and therapists for the specific injured body parts. It is important for both your health and your lawsuit to attend every appointment and make sure to follow your doctor’s orders as closely as possible.
- Get back to work ASAP: Even though you are entitled to compensation for the time you have missed at work, it is still your responsibility to get yourself ready to return as soon as you are physically able. Your doctor will work with you to determine the earliest time you will be able to return to work safely.
- Be frugal: Depending on how your settlement process plays out, you may be waiting months or even years to see any money as a result of your accident. Unfortunately, too many accident victims do not plan for this and end up spending too much money or borrowing on high-interest credit cards or loans, only to spend their settlement money before they receive it.
- Keep a journal: You should keep a daily journal to keep track of your symptoms and physical effects from your accident. That way you will have a detailed record of your symptoms between visits with your medical team.
Making a demand
Sending a demand letter is the first step in negotiating a settlement in your liability claim. Before a demand letter is written, the victim must have completed their medical treatment and all applicable medical records must be gathered. You will also want to gather any other evidence of lost wages or damages before beginning the demand letter. While it is possible to do this yourself, we believe this part is best left to a qualified legal professional.
Here is an outline of what should be included in your demand letter:
- Information about the accident – Even if the insurance company representing Uber in your case has already assumed liability for the accident, it is important to recount the details of the crash in your demand letter. This makes your version of the events clear to the insurance company and offers a preview of what a jury will hear should the case proceed to trial. When describing the accident in the demand letter, it is important to be as specific as possible. You should describe the direction each car was heading, weather conditions, and any defensive maneuvers you attempted in order to avoid the collision. Make sure to include any pictures or diagrams from the police report that supports your claim. The purpose of this section is to clearly show you can prove that the other driver was at fault for the action.
- Information about your medical treatment – The next section of your demand letter should describe the injuries you suffered as a result of the other driver’s negligence. It’s important to include the full timeline of symptoms and treatment received, beginning at the scene of the crash itself. You should make sure to use proper medical terminology in this section (think “compound fracture” instead of “broken arm”). Accurately describing all treatment received after a crash is important.
- Information about your medical bills – After explaining all the treatment undergone as a result of your car accident, you need to provide an itemized list of all the medical bills incurred as a result of your injuries. Not only should you include the bills for all of your doctor and specialist appointments, but you should also make sure to include any bills for transportation by ambulance, medication you have been prescribed, and any additional medical devices you had to buy, such as crutches or a wheelchair.
- Information about lost wages – If your accident caused you to lose income, you might be entitled to recover damages as a result. In your demand letter, you should provide an explanation and any proof of lost income. Even if you did not actually lose income, but had to use vacation time or sick leave as a result of the accident, you should make sure to include this as well.
- Any additional losses – Next, you should explain any additional impact to your life caused by the accident. If being injured as a result of your accident caused you to miss important events such as vacations or weddings, this is the time to mention that. While these kinds of losses can be hard to put a specific dollar amount on, they are definitely worth considering when determining the total value of your claim.
- Your Monetary Demand – Finally, now that you have explained all of your losses in detail, it’s time to add them all up to come up with a specific amount of money you believe you are owed. Of course, this number will end up being significantly higher than what you can ultimately expect to receive as a settlement. The important part of this is that it begins the dialogue and gives you room to negotiate.
A well-written demand later could be the difference between a sub-par offer and the settlement you deserve, so it’s very important it is properly put together on the first try.
Deciding to settle or begin litigation.
Once your demand letter goes out, you should expect a response in a few weeks. On rare occasions, the insurance company may accept your demand amount and pay the amount of the settlement immediately. What is far more likely, however, is that your requested amount will be rejected and offer you a lower value instead.
Once you have been presented with a counter-offer, you have a few different options to choose from. First, you can accept the offer and settle your case if the amount is acceptable to you. Next, you or your attorney can send back a modified offer. Often this process goes back and forth a few times before an agreement is reached or the plaintiff decides to begin litigation.
Because of the extra time and expense involved in a car accident claim going to trial, it is usually in the interest of everyone involved to agree on a settlement without having to reach the courtroom. However, there are times where the two sides cannot agree and the case must go to court. Even once the process of litigation has started, both parties are still allowed and encouraged to come to a mutually-agreed-upon solution at any point during the pre-trial and trial process.
Taking your liability claim to court
If, after sending your demand letter and subsequent negotiations, you are unable to reach an agreement with Uber’s insurance carrier in your case, you may have no choice to take your claim to court. At this point, having an attorney to represent you is essential to presenting your case.
Before your trial date, your lawyer may recommend you sit for a deposition with the counsel representing Uber. Often, these formal pre-trial hearings clarify issues that have caused friction during negotiations and allow the parties to reach an agreement without proceeding to a full trial.
What happens if my case goes to trial?
If your case still cannot be settled after negotiations and pre-trial hearings, your lawyer may advise you that it is necessary to proceed with a trial. During your car accident trial, a judge or jury will hear the facts surrounding your case and decide if you are entitled to damages as well as the amount of those damages. The type of trial you will have is determined by the state in which you are litigating.
During the trial, through your lawyer, you will have an opportunity to present evidence that the accident was caused by the negligence of the other party as well as explain the extent of your damages incurred. You will be able to testify and call witnesses as well.
Evidence that can be helpful in proving your case at trial includes:
- Medical records
- Police reports detailing the accident
- Testimony from expert witnesses such as your doctor
- Photos and video showing the accident and your injuries
- Interviews with people who witnessed the crash
After you are given a chance to present your evidence, the defense is able to cross-examine witnesses and present any evidence that they may have.
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury or judge begins deliberation and decides on the result of the case. Remember, car accident trials take place in civil court rather than a criminal court. This trial is about making sure a victim is properly compensated rather than punishing anybody for a crime.
The job of the judge or jury in this instance is to answer the following two questions:
- Which party was at fault for the accident? This may include making a decision about what percentage of the blame is attributable to each driver involved in the accent.
- How much money should be awarded to the victim from the insurance company?
Because involving judges or juries creates unpredictability, lawsuits can be risky business for everyone involved. The plaintiff risks being awarded less money than they were offered during settlement talks and the insurance company runs the risk of losing a lot more money than it could have if it had accepted a settlement. Lawsuits are time-consuming and expensive, so most car accident lawyers will not agree to take a case to trial unless they feel the case is very strong.
The process of taking a car accident lawsuit to trial is long and stressful. If you are unsure about whether your case is strong enough, you should consult a lawyer as soon as you are able.
How long after the Uber accident can you file a claim?
While you should make sure to notify your insurance company immediately if you were one of the drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have a good deal of time after the accident in order to file a liability claim and recover damages. This is to allow accident victims ample time to receive treatment for their injuries and learn the full long-term extent of the damages. Depending on which state your accident occurred in, you have a deadline of at least 2 years and up to 6 years to file a claim.
How much is the average Uber accident settlement?
Because there are so many factors included in any given car accident, there is a huge range of settlements that can be given. Car accident settlements involving Uber drivers begin at around $3,000 and can reach as high as $1 million or more. An average third-party liability settlement involving an Uber driver with only minor injuries is between $12,000 and $15,000.
Remember, even though everyone occasionally reads stories about lawsuits with giant settlements, it’s important to know that nobody looks back on their accident and feels happy that it happened. At the end of the day, you should aim for a result that allows you to move on with your life as best as possible.
How long will it take to settle a case with Uber?
Unfortunately for anyone looking for a specific answer, there is none to be found for this question. Lawsuit settlements can happen as quickly as a few months after the accident and can last as long as a few years. The main factor that will extend negotiations and possible litigation is if there are facts that the parties disagree on such as who is at fault and what the damages are.
Of course, the best-case scenario is that both parties eventually see eye-to-eye and agree on a resolution in time to avoid going to trial. Cases that end up going to trial are the ones that drag out the longest. Here is an example of a typical trial timeline to give you an idea of how long this process can take.
Typical Uber Liability Lawsuit Timeline
Rest and recovery: During the time immediately after the accident, victims should focus on recovery and following the guidance of their doctor and other medical professionals who are helping them recover. Not only is this the best course of action for their health, but it’s also required before beginning the liability claim process. Otherwise, the victim runs the risk of settling too quickly before the full extent of the injury is clear.
Complaint filed: After the extent of the injuries and damages is clear, the victim can file a complaint in civil court and begin the lawsuit process. The defendant answers the complaint, then a judge is assigned to the case and the discovery process begins.
Discovery: During discovery, each side is able to request information that can be used as potential evidence at trial. This can be a lengthy process that lasts a minimum of a few months but can last more than a year in some cases.
Trial: After months or years of waiting, the trial arrives. The actual trial will only take 1 or two days to complete and render a verdict.
Appeal: Even after a verdict is rendered, your case may still be far from over. If either party does not believe the verdict was fairly arrived at, they may appeal. Depending on the grounds for appeal and the specifics of the case, the appeal process can further extend a case for months or even years.
As you can see, the wheels of justice turn very slowly. This is why very few automobile accident lawsuits ever reach trial. Because of the time wasted and extra costs involved, the end result is often everybody losing.
Examples of Uber Accident Settlements
When an Uber driver is giving a ride, they may be carrying up to $1.5 million in liability insurance. While it is rare for an auto accident to cause this much damage, it is possible if the medical bills and damages that result from an accident are high enough. While no accident victim is ever grateful for being involved in a car crash, it is possible to recover enough money to get your life back on track, even after a severe accident.
Here are some examples of settlements and judgments obtained against negligent drivers and their insurance companies.
Example Settlement #1: Pedestrian Hit By Car
Victim: 35-Year-old man
Circumstances: In this example, the victim had entered a marked pedestrian crossing after being given the “walk” signal. The driver of a 2010 Toyota Prius ignored a red light and entered the intersection, attempting to make a left turn. The car struck the pedestrian in the car with such force that it threw him into the air and caused him to land striking his head on the pavement.
The driver initially lied about the location of the pedestrian when they were struck by the car. They also failed to tell the truth and claimed that the light was green when the car entered the intersection. Thankfully for the victim, there were two on-scene witnesses who spoke to police at the time of the accident and were able to provide an accurate recollection of the accident.
Damages: After receiving emergency care and spending nine days in the hospital, the victim began to recover and work with his medical team to return to health. In addition to several torn ligaments, he suffered from a series of fractured vertebrae and fractured tibia. The victim required several weeks of intensive inpatient physical rehabilitation.
Did it Go to Court? No. This case was settled without going to trial.
Final Award to Victim: $750,000
Example Settlement #2: Passenger Injured in a Crash
Victim: 22-year-old woman
Circumstances: In this example, the victim was involved in a severe car accident while riding as a passenger. The driver was later found to be driving under the influence. The victim’s attorneys used police reports, depositions, and expert medical testimony to establish that the victim did not know that the driver was intoxicated when she accepted the ride, establishing she was not responsible in the slightest for her injuries.
Damages: The back injuries sustained by the victim in this car crash required three surgeries. In addition, it was determined that the injuries sustained in this case would cause a permanent reduction in the victim’s quality of life. Thankfully for the victim in this case, the driver had additional insurance, raising the coverage limit to $1.5 million.
Did it Go to Court? Yes. Because of the large claim amount and because the driver’s insurance company believed that some of the victim’s injuries were pre-existing before the crash, it was necessary to go to court to recover the full amount.
Final Award to Victim: $1.5 Million
Example Settlement #3: Hit by Uber Driver While Driving
Victim: 42-year-old man
Circumstances: In this final example, the victim was on his way to work when an Uber driver carrying a passenger ignored a stop sign and struck his vehicle from the side. The collision was considered “moderate impact” and after taking statements from all drivers and passengers, it was clear which party was at fault.
Damages: While the parties were able to quickly agree as to which driver was at fault for the accident, there was a lot of disagreement between the two parties as far as the extent of the injuries suffered by the victim. Attorneys for the victim claimed that he was suffering from bladder dysfunction and chronic back pain as a result of the crash. Lawyers representing the Uber driver claimed the accident was not severe enough to cause the injuries.
Did it Go to Court? Yes. Because in this case, the parties strongly disagreed on the injuries suffered by the victim, there was no choice but to allow this matter to be resolved by a jury. After deliberation, the jury sided with the victim.
Final Award to Victim: $250,000
The Next Steps
Being involved in an accident can be a traumatic event and knowing what to do next is tough. This article has given a comprehensive rundown of what to do if Uber is involved, whether you were a passenger, an Uber driver or a third party driver. Getting proper legal representation is essential if you wish to escalate your situation into a liability claim. It will ensure that you get the settlement you deserve for something that wasn’t your fault. Take your time to recover from your injuries, take records of everything and, when you’re ready, you can talk to a lawyer and start work on getting the appropriate settlement.