As many of you know, a tragic pedestrian accident occurred on New Year’s Eve, when a driver, who was allegedly logged into Uber’s system, struck a family crossing a street. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sofia Liu’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Uber, alleging that although the driver of the car was not carrying any passengers for Uber at the time of the accident, Uber is still responsible, as the driver was working for Uber.
The California wrongful death suit alleges that because the driver was available for Uber application users to reserve him for a ride, this is Uber’s business and Uber should be held responsible. Uber, however, like most corporations and insurance companies, are looking for ways to deflect liability away from themselves, to avoid paying wrongful death damages.
Unfortunately, the law is still very unsettled when it comes to ride-sharing applications and companies, as this is a rather new service available to people in California. These companies operate by paying people to use their own vehicles to give rides, then sharing the revenue from the consumer. The California Public Utilities Commission requires that the companies, such as Uber, carry one million dollars of liability insurance coverage. However, it is not clear if that coverage kicks in only when the driver is carrying passengers, responding to calls to pick up passengers, or simply available to pick up passengers and logged into the Uber system
In addition, the driver’s primary insurance coverage, which is usually not a commercial insurance policy, will often not cover a driver if he or she is driving for hire. Also, there is no requirement that Uber carry uninsured motorist coverage, in the case of an Uber vehicle being struck by a car that is not covered by insurance, or does not have enough insurance.
Also fighting against Uber are taxi companies and their drivers, who are seeing a significant threat to their business from the Uber ride-sharing business model.
I was recently in an Uber car in Santa Monica and the driver, who was making a left turn, came very close to striking a pedestrian who was legally crossing in a crosswalk. Fortunately, the driver stopped just in time and apologized to the pedestrian. As more and more Uber and other ride-sharing vehicles are on the road, the odds of Uber car accidents is increasing and the regulations for these companies need to be set now.
If you are injured in an Uber car accident, you need an attorney who understands the serious complexities involved. Our experienced car accident lawyers offer a free consultation to all injury victims.