New York City is known for its yellow taxicabs. You can raise your hand and call out for a cab just about anywhere in town. Now, as an alternative to calling a cab, more and more New Yorkers are using their phone to call an Uber. Instead of getting a ride in a commercially owned and operated taxi, Uber vehicles are privately owned and maintained by their drivers. This allows Uber to offer a unique experience at a discounted rate. But, there are facts about Uber you need to be aware of.
The biggest concern is the fact that Uber passengers may not be protected in the event they're injured in a car accident. There are many questions about who will compensate passengers for injuries and damages sustained in an Uber car accident.
The top-rated New York car accident lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options in cases involving Uber.
Call us at (212) 986-7353 to discuss your situation.
Anyone who's lived in New York has probably had a few disappointing taxi rides. Not every taxi driver is safe or particularly skilled, but they all are employees of a larger company. This means that they are screened and background-checked. Taxis are regularly inspected and maintained by the company that owns them.
Uber provides a similar service, but Uber vehicles and drivers ARE NOT regulated in the same way. Uber vehicles are owned, maintained, and operated by individual drivers. In fact, Uber tries to distance itself from the drivers by claiming that they only provide the platform that helps connect consumers with drivers. It's not always clear when the vehicle was last inspected, or whether the driver has recently had a background check or drug screening. Since the number of Uber accidents have increased over recent years however, Uber has claimed that the “safe ride fee”, the fare the rider pays after being taken to their desired location, covers things such as background checks, motor vehicle screenings, and driver safety education for their drivers.
Many people are concerned over what happens when someone gets hurt in a New York car accident involving an Uber driver. Is the driver responsible for his or her own actions or does Uber share responsibility even though the driver is not an employee and the company does not own the vehicle?
Uber made headlines in 2014 when it refused to take responsibility for a fatal car accident. The company's attorneys argued that the driver was an independent contractor and that Uber wasn't liable for the accident. To prevent this type of liability issue, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission suggested new rules to regulate rideshare companies. But, it's unclear if Uber will follow these guidelines because they still consider themselves a rideshare program different from taxi services.
In a New York Uber accident, In a New York Uber accident, drivers are not considered to be employees of Uber, but a licensee of the company. This does not mean that they have not taken necessary measures to help protect drivers and their passengers, but it does mean that it's not always clear who should be held accountable to pay for compensation: the driver, Uber, or the insurance company – not to mention what insurance company.
Uber has also updated their website to include details of their one million dollar insurance policy, a policy set in place to protect Uber drivers and their passengers. The insurance policy is three parts, and the coverage provided depends on what the Uber driver is doing at the time of the accident.
- If the driver is using the vehicle for their own purposes, and is not available to give passengers a ride, they will be covered under their own vehicle insurance policy. Liability and coverage limits for New York Uber accidents will be determined in these cases by the policy specifications and New York state law.
- If the driver is available to give passengers a ride, but is not carrying passengers at the time of the accident, the insurance coverage will be split into two different parts. The driver's own personal insurance coverage will cover most of the damages, but Uber does have a policy to make up for partial damages in these cases. Uber will provide additional contingency liability coverage up to $50,000 per injury to a maximum of $100,000; and up to $25,000 in property damages. This Uber coverage will only be applicable upon request, and only in the case of a driver's own insurance not providing adequate coverage.
- If the driver is available and is carrying passengers at the time of the accident, both the passenger(s) and the driver will be covered under Uber's one million dollar liability policy. If the driver is found to be uninsured or underinsured, Uber will also provide an additional one million dollars to cover these damages.
The insurance policies Uber has instated to provide coverage for their drivers and passengers does sound reassuring, but it's been proven in case after case that getting compensation from Uber and its insurance company isn't easy. And anyone that's been in a car accident before knows that it's also not easy to get compensation from their own insurance company – and that's true in the case of Uber drivers as well.
Uber, and all insurance companies, are in the business of making money – not paying out on policies. Because of this, they'll do everything they can to fight any claims asking them for compensation. And because they're large companies with extensive teams of lawyers, they're well-equipped to avoid paying out on claims. In order to fight those big companies after an Uber accident, it's important that you have a New York personal injury lawyer on your side to fight for your rights.
If you've been hurt in an ridesharing car accident, you'll need guidance from an attorney to get the support you need. Our New York Uber car accident attorneys will help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related damages.
Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.
Joseph Stoduto was able to obtain a settlement in the amount of $275,000 on behalf of the plaintiff, a thirty-nine year old man from Kings County, NY.
After jury selection, Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin partner, Jason Rubin settled a pedestrian knockdown automobile accident case for $225,000.00.