I was fortunate enough to spend part of the holiday season in New York City and while there, I like most others, used Uber to get all over town. Its simplicity and ease to get around town quickly and affordably are unmatched, so it is no surprise that the company and service has become a phenomenon. The probability of being involved in an auto accident in an Uber vehicle is no lower than in your own vehicle, and I have often heard questions about how auto accidents work when Uber is involved. The short answer is that nothing really changes and you will likely be entitled to any and all damages entitled to had the accident occurred in your own vehicle. As with any type of auto accident, those damages include past and future medical bills, past and future lost wage earnings, and pain and suffering.
If you are a passenger in an Uber vehicle then you have a suite of protections. First, liability can not be in question against you since you weren’t driving. Whether it was the Uber driver or the other car that caused the accident, we know for certain that you, as passenger, did not cause the accident because you weren’t driving. So, whether the claim is brought against the Uber driver or the driver of the other involved vehicle, you will be able to make a claim for full damages. Second, Uber requires all drivers to maintain insurance in their State. This should help offer you protection should the Uber driver be at fault for the accident. Uber also maintains additional supplemental insurance that may cover some of the loss or costs if the Uber Driver’s insurance is insufficient. Third, it the Uber driver was not at fault then you can proceed against the at-fault drivers insurance for all damages. In Rhode Island, a negligence free passenger can go after EITHER at fault party if liability is split or not entirely clear. Finally, you can look to your own insurance policy which may cover some or all of the damages depending on the circumstances (if not covered by any other applicable coverage described above).
While I have had people express concern to me after being involved in an accident with a ride share program such as Uber and Lyft, as you can see from this analysis, you are very well protected and covered. I would recommend contacting a personal injury attorney right away. If you try to process your claim with the assistance of Uber or the driver of the Uber vehicle, they may not be looking out for your best interest. Only an experienced auto accident attorney can ensure that your rights are protected and the claim handled with your best interest in mind.
If you are driving for Uber and involved in an accident, you can only proceed if you were not at fault for the accident and proceed through the at fault drivers insurance company. You may use your own insurance under certain circumstances, but even before you are involved in an accident I would make sure that your insurance company knows that you use your vehicle for Uber so that they do not deny coverage for excluded use, namely, using your vehicle for commercial purposes.