Uber has achieved tremendous growth since its founders established the company in 2009. The ride-sharing network currently serves over 400 cities across California and around the world. About 65 percent of the American population can access its services. As a result, the chance of an Uber driver accident in San Diego is not uncommon.
How it Began
Uber first came to San Diego during 2012. It attracted underpaid taxi drivers who were calling for the city government to reform their industry. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Uber had approximately 12,000 local contractors by early 2016. Other drivers work for similar businesses like Opoli, Lyft, and Sidecar. Over 500,000 customers use Uber’s service in San Diego County. Popular destinations include Balboa Park, the historic Gaslamp District, and San Diego International Airport.
What it Does
A traditional taxi company supplies vehicles to employees and supervising them directly. Uber, however, helps travelers find independent contractors who provide the transportation themselves. Potential contractors are screened by Uber before joining the network. If a serious complaint is made, their contracts can be terminated. Contractors pay a percentage of each fare to Uber in exchange for promotion and insurance. Drivers pay higher fees in San Diego.
Uber and its competitors supply smartphone applications that help connect customers with drivers. They can also save time by selecting contractors who are already traveling nearby. The Drivers then interact with their phones to find passengers. If they are unfamiliar with a destination, a driver may also use a separate navigation app at the same time. The apps can create distractions that increase the risk of an Uber driver accident.
Is it Regulated?
Uber practically made its own rules until recently, but this led to legal battles among taxi firms, ride-sharing services and city governments. The California Public Utilities Commission has started to license transportation network companies, or TNCs. It put them in a separate category from taxicabs because they arrange all rides in advance. Initially the commission required TNCs to provide insurance when contractors were either carrying passengers, or en-route to pick them up.
After an Uber driver struck and killed a young girl in late 2013, Uber refused to supply compensation. The company claimed that state law didn’t call for it to insure a contractor who was only in the process of seeking customers. California’s government responded by expanding TNC insurance requirements. Liability coverage must now be provided for any driver using the ride-sharing software.
When drivers log into a TNC’s application, state law requires the company to supply them with insurance that has a per-accident cap of at least $100,000. The per-person limit must meet or exceed $50,000 as well. This contingent insurance covers both injuries and fatalities. California’s regulations also demand a minimum of $30,000 in property coverage. It pays for repairs to cars, buildings, fences and other objects.
The insurance requirements rise when a driver either picks up a customer or begins traveling to a pickup location. The CPUC expects TNCs to provide coverage with a per-accident compensation limit of at least $1 million. This insurance covers victims if an accident is caused by an Uber driver. The state also safeguards TNC drivers by requiring $1 million of protection against under-insured and uninsured motorists.
The following infographic is from the Uber website: http://bit.ly/1Wg7U5R
A few auto insurers offer supplemental policies specifically designed for Uber contractors. These agencies often pay hospital or repair bills when state law doesn’t require the TNC to provide coverage. E.g. Compensating an Uber driver if an under-insured motorist causes an accident while the driver is waiting for ride requests.
How Can California Drivers Gain Compensation after an Uber Accident?
Crashes can trigger lasting physical harm and cause people to fear to travel by car. Life may never truly be the same again. Financial compensation cannot erase the suffering that a victim endures, and it won’t cure disabilities. Still, these funds often pay medical bills, repair damaged vehicles and replace lost income.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an Uber accident, our skillful attorneys have the expertise needed to secure adequate compensation. This will allow you to focus on recovering from an injury or helping a family member do so. You won’t be forced to devote your limited time & energy to negotiations with collection agencies and insurers.
When a traffic accident produces serious injuries, victims need to find out who has a legal obligation to reimburse them. California’s laws make it relatively easy to identify the responsible party if a collision involves private cars and a taxi. However, the situation becomes far more confusing when an Uber driver is involved.
If an Uber contractor causes a crash, seemingly minor technicalities can have a tremendous impact on compensation. For example, insurance coverage differs depending on whether or not the driver was using Uber’s smartphone app. It is also crucial to find out if the vehicle was carrying a customer.
California’s state government requires drivers to undergo training and background checks. It also expects Uber to carry sufficient insurance. Full coverage only goes into effect when a contractor transports passengers or travels to a pick up location. Uber’s policy also provides compensation if a driver triggers a collision caused by an uninsured motorist.
Uber provides lower levels of insurance when a contractor is logged into the mobile app, but is not serving passengers. This coverage has a lower compensation limit, and only applies if an Uber driver’s personal auto policy fails to cover the accident.
If an Uber driver is not using the app or transporting customers, their personal insurance must cover any compensation. An Uber car crash becomes the same as a regular traffic accident under these circumstances. Uber requires all vehicle operators to have personal liability coverage.
If a driver breaks this law, you may need to take legal action against the individual or claim benefits from your uninsured motorist policy. You can also use under-insured motorist insurance when Uber or its contractor does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you.
The bottom line is that you’ll need to find out some details about an Uber accident before you can decide who is legally responsible. It’s best to seek help from an attorney rather than trying to go it alone. Our personal injury lawyers have specialized knowledge and experience. We aim to resolve legal disputes quickly and maximize compensation. Please contact our San Diego law firm for a free consultation.