A pedestrian accident in San Francisco, involving an Uber driver, has resulted in the death of a young girl and caused serious injuries to her brother and mother. According to TechCrunch, an Uber SUV driver collided with the family as they were walking in a crosswalk. Apparently, the driver was not in the process of transporting an Uber rider, so Uber’s liability insurance may not apply to cover the California wrongful death damages.
This Uber car accident brings up many important legal issues that may not be addressed under current California law. Normally, with a common carrier, such as a taxi, there is a commercial insurance policy in place covering the taxi. The policy will cover the taxi if it causes an accident while transporting people or not. However, with Uber, the company may claim that its drivers are not working for Uber unless they actually are transporting the Uber customer(s) at the time of the crash. Uber’s argument would be strengthened by the fact that Uber does not own the vehicle and the driver is free to do his/her own thing when not transporting an Uber rider.
Victim’s rights advocates, like California personal injury lawyers, may make the argument that if the driver is available to Uber or in the process of picking someone up for Uber, that he/she is working for Uber and Uber’s insurance should apply to cover the damages caused by the accident.
We have also heard how taxi companies have scrutinized Uber’s business model as they claim it is not subject to the same amount of regulation as taxis (including procedures for scrutinizing potential drivers), so the cost of doing business is lower, putting Uber at an unfair competitive advantage.
The TechCrunch article also addresses how there could be a situation where an Uber driver does not have commercial insurance coverage and if Uber does not cover the accident, there may be no applicable insurance coverage, as a personal insurance policy may not cover a driver who is considered working at the time of the crash. Also, most personal policies are not large enough to cover the extensive monetary damages of a wrongful death or serious injury claim.
We hope the California legislature addresses these issues to erase any ambiguity so that victim’s are covered in the case of future accidents involving Uber and other ride sharing apps. Our thoughts go out to the victims of this tragic accident and we wish a speedy recovery to those who were critically injured.