One of the biggest developments in the world of transportation in recent years has been the proliferation of ridesharing and ridehailing companies like Uber. These companies have provided access to quick and inexpensive rides for passengers who need to get from one place to another, and have also given drivers with access to a vehicle the opportunity to make some extra cash.
However, Uber's ridesharing system is only smooth until something bad happens, like a car accident. If you get into an accident with an Uber vehicle – whether while you were a passenger in the Uber vehicle, a driver or other occupant in a car that was hit by the Uber vehicle, or a pedestrian who was hit by the Uber driver – you might wonder if you can even file a lawsuit to get the compensation you need and deserve.
The answer to this common question is yes, you can sue after an Uber accident in Philadelphia. However, the lawsuit will have a few more complications that a normal personal injury case after a typical car crash. That is why it is so important to have the personal injury and car accident attorneys from the law office of Gilman & Bedigian on your side if you have been hurt in a crash that was caused by an Uber driver.
You Can Sue After an Uber Accident in Philadelphia
For the most part, the law treats car accidents that involve Uber drivers just like other car crashes in Philadelphia: If you were hurt and the accident was caused by someone else, then you can file a lawsuit as a formal claim for compensation from the party that caused your injuries.
In order to succeed in such a lawsuit – regardless of whether it was an Uber who caused the crash or a normal driver – you will need to show four things:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care to keep you out of harm's way,
- The other driver failed to uphold this duty of care,
- This failure was the cause of your injuries, and
- The extent of your injuries and how much compensation you deserve.
These four elements are the same in all car accident cases, regardless of whether the other driver was an Uber driver or not. In fact, all personal injury cases – even those that did not involve a car crash – revolve around these four elements.
The only major difference in a car accident case that is filed against an Uber driver is a practical issue: It is more difficult to get fully compensated by an Uber driver than it is to get compensated by a regular driver because it can be tricky to make Uber liable for the crash, and many Uber drivers do not have the right kind of car insurance coverage.
It Can Be Difficult to Make Uber Liable for a Crash Involving One of Its Drivers
In a typical car accident case involving a professional driver, like a taxi, bus, or truck driver, the victim of the accident can usually count on the driver's employer covering the costs of the crash. After all, it is the employer that is responsible for the driver being on the road and is making a profit off of the driver's work on the roads.
The legal doctrine that lets this happen is called respondeat superior. When an employee was on the clock and negligently caused an accident or a personal injury to someone else while within the scope of their employment, respondeat superior holds the employer strictly liable for the costs of the accident, even though the employer was technically not the one that caused it.
This legal doctrine has special implications for car accidents involving Uber drivers in Philadelphia because Uber does not call its drivers “employees.” Instead, it hires them as independent contractors, providing Uber with a legal separation from its drivers that prevents it from being held strictly liable for the costs of a crash caused by its drivers. In theory, this distinction also prevents Uber from controlling all of the aspects of how their drivers perform their work for Uber, but this is not quite the case, in practice.
The difference between an Uber driver being an employee of Uber or one of its independent contractors can have dire implications for a lawsuit against Uber over a crash that was caused by one of its drivers: If the driver is deemed to be an employee of Uber, then Uber can be held strictly liable for your injuries and you can count on being fully compensated. However, if the driver is deemed to be a mere independent contractor, then you will not be able to collect compensation from Uber and will have to rely on the driver and his or her insurance.
How Insurance Works in Uber Accidents
Now that ridesharing is widespread and accidents have become relatively common, car insurance companies offer Uber drivers with packages of insurance that they can use to cover themselves in the event of a crash.
This is a welcome development because, in the early days of ridesharing, Uber drivers were often uncovered because, by driving with a paying customer in their car, they violated the terms of their car insurance, allowing their insurance company to escape paying, in the event of a crash. However, not all Uber drivers abide by the requirement to have adequate coverage or know that they are driving without it, making the victims in some Uber accidents with nowhere to turn for compensation.
Uber Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
While car accidents that were caused by an Uber driver are legally similar to any other crash, the practical ability of getting compensated for your injuries is made more complicated by the driver's relationship to Uber. It can often take a skilled personal injury attorney like those at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian to make sure you get the financial compensation you need and deserve. Contact us online for legal representation in this complex kind of case.