The past few decades have brought numerous technological developments that have changed the way we live. One of them has been the advent of “ridesharing” programs on our smartphones. These apps can call drivers to your current location in Baltimore so they can take you where you want to go and include a payment system that automatically calculates and pays your fare before you even get in the car. This fare is often below what you would expect to pay for a taxi.
While this might seem like a great idea, the execution has been less than ideal: ridesharing companies like Uber have insulated themselves from liability from accidents by claiming they are not responsible for the drivers who work for them. This has made people think that they cannot sue after an Uber accident in Baltimore.
The truth is that you can sue after an Uber accident. However, there are several complications to the lawsuit that can take a skilled personal injury and car accident attorney to overcome. The attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help.
Yes, You Can Sue After an Uber Accident in Baltimore
The law surrounding car accidents involving Uber drivers is similar to the law for regular car accidents in Baltimore. Innocent victims of a crash that was caused by someone else have a legal right to receive compensation from whoever caused the crash. Victims can enforce this legal right by filing a personal injury lawsuit against whoever was responsible for their injuries. Succeeding in this lawsuit requires showing four things.
- The person or people you are suing had a duty of care to keep you safe or out of harm's way.
- Those people did not uphold this duty of care.
- This failure caused your injuries.
- You were, in fact, hurt by their failure.
Whether the crash was caused by a random member of the public or an Uber driver in Baltimore, these four requirements remain the same.
However, if the driver who caused the crash was an Uber driver, there are a small handful of practical issues that will arise and that can prevent you from getting the full amount of compensation that you need and deserve. One of them is getting Uber to pay for their role in the accident. Another is getting the Uber driver's insurance company to cover the costs of your injuries.
Uber's Liability After a Car Accident
Typically, when a professional driver is behind the wheel and on the clock, any car accidents that they happen to cause will implicate their employer. After all, the driver is only on the road for the sake of their employer, their employer is the one who is benefitting the most from the driver's progress, and the employer's specific instructions put the driver on the road.
This is an application of the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds employers accountable for the accidents that their employees negligently cause while in the scope of their employment. Not holding the employer liable and only putting the responsibility and the costs of the accident on the shoulders of the employee would often fail to fully compensate the victim of the crash—the main concern after an accident that leads to an injury—and would also let the employer enjoy all of the benefits of their employees without worrying about any of the risks.
However, the doctrine of respondeat superior only applies to employers and their employees. Uber and other ridesharing companies insist that they are not in the business of providing a ride service. Instead, they claim to only be responsible for the smartphone program that connects drivers with interested riders. This, according to Uber, makes the drivers who use their program merely independent contractors of Uber, not its employees.
Whether this claim is actually true or not is still up for debate. However, the difference is critical if you have been hurt in a car accident that was caused by an Uber driver. If the driver is an employee of Uber, then you can implicate Uber and its millions of dollars in assets into your lawsuit. If the driver is just an independent contractor, though, you will have to rely on the driver for your compensation.
Insurance Coverage in Uber Accidents
Which leads to the other practical issue surrounding accidents involving Uber: getting the driver's insurance company to pay for your injuries and other losses.
Car insurance companies know that accidents involving professional drivers with paying riders cost more than those involving individual people. Therefore, they charge higher premiums for professional drivers to cover themselves with enough insurance to pay if something happens to go wrong.
Many Uber drivers, however, try to cut corners and save money by driving for Uber without having the appropriate insurance. If they cause an accident, their insurance company can refuse to pay anything because the driver will have violated their insurance policy by driving for hire with Uber. This can leave you in a dire predicament, with only the driver's personal finances to pay for the costs of your recovery.
As Uber grows and more drivers choose to make money by using it, car insurance companies have done a better job providing adequate coverage at affordable prices. However, not all drivers have caught on, and some still drive without enough insurance to cover you if you get hurt in their vehicle.
Baltimore Uber Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
These practical problems with getting full compensation after an Uber accident often take a skilled personal injury attorney to overcome. The lawyers at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian are up for the challenge. Contact us online to get the legal help you need to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Your ability to make a full recovery may be on the line.