Uber came onto the transportation scene in 2009 by providing users with convenient and affordable rides to destinations in cities throughout the world. Uber’s history in San Antonio, Texas has been a bumpy road. At one point in early 2015, Uber left the market in protest of city ordinances that require background checks and fingerprints for Uber drivers. When the city refused to modify the ordinance, Uber left San Antonio briefly, but returned later that year. Uber has remained in San Antonio since late 2015, and is popular with users. Yet, not all Uber drivers drive safely; some make careless choices behind the wheel, putting riders and other motorists in danger.
If you have suffered injuries in an Uber accident as a rider, driver, or passenger in another vehicle, you may be able to sue for damages related to your injuries. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden accompanying a serious injury. Contact the experienced Uber accident attorneys at The Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio at (210) 225-0909 for a no obligation, free consultation about your case.
Representing the Rights of Individuals Injured in Uber Accidents in San Antonio
San Antonio is a fun and exciting city that’s jam-packed with things to do. And what better way to get around our bustling city than by Uber. Unfortunately, Uber accidents happen, and because the law related to this burgeoning rideshare business model is in its early stages, these claims are especially complicated. If you’ve been injured in an accident involving an Uber, you need experienced legal counsel.
Uber is Convenient for San Antonio Drivers
The beauty of Uber is that you can hire a car from anywhere – with the push of a button on your smartphone. It simply doesn’t get any more convenient than that. And when things are running smoothly, there’s nothing not to love. If, on the other hand, you’ve been injured in an Uber car accident, things are very different. Every car accident is upsetting, but being injured in an Uber accident adds an additional layer of ambiguity and confusion about how best to proceed. If you’ve been injured, seek immediate medical attention, then consult with an experienced Uber accident attorney.
Car accidents are always unsettling—Uber accidents can be even more so. If you’ve been injured in an Uber accident, it’s no time to go it alone; you need a skilled car accident attorney who has experience with complicated Uber accident cases. The experienced legal team at The Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio has the skill, knowledge, and determination to fight for your Uber accident claim’s best possible resolution. Our dedicated Uber accident attorneys will leave no stone unturned in our quest to protect your rights and obtain your rightful compensation.
Uber and Insurance: Three Common Scenarios
While Uber has received negative press recently, it continues to grow and prosper and add new drivers to its team each day. As the number of Uber vehicles on our roadways continues to grow, the number of Uber accidents also continues to increase. As such, it’s useful to try and better understand how Uber and insurance come together, as those issues may complicate recovery for an Uber accident.
Because Uber drivers drive their own cars, they’re covered under their own insurance policies. Uber, the company, also carries its own insurance that’s known as . There are a number of variables that determine how insurance applies in an Uber accident, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Three common scenarios include:
1. The Uber driver is on duty and actively carrying passengers – Whether you’re an Uber passenger or are in another vehicle at the time of the accident, Uber’s commercial insurance policy will come into play for the Uber driver’s liability if the driver is on duty and is carrying passengers (or is en route to pick up an active fare). In the eyes of the law, the Uber driver’s vehicle – in this situation – transcends the status of personal vehicle and is instead treated as a commercial vehicle. As such, Uber’s commercial policy should kick in.
2. The Uber driver is on duty but isn’t carrying any passengers – If the Uber driver in question is on duty but has no passengers in the vehicle, it confuses the matter. Uber drivers naturally spend some time without active passengers, but they nevertheless remain on the road and at the ready. During this downtime, Uber drivers aren’t technically working for Uber, and when they’re involved in car accidents during this period, it’s likely that Uber’s contingent insurance policy – rather than its commercial policy – will be activated.
3. The Uber driver is driving on his or her own time – If the Uber driver whose negligence caused you to be injured is off the clock and isn’t driving for Uber at the time, it’s business as usual and your claim will proceed exactly as any other car accident claim would. This is because, in the eyes of the law, the Uber driver’s vehicle in that moment is no longer a commercial vehicle, so Uber’s policies no longer apply.
Uber and rideshare companies like it are relatively new on the legal scene, and as a result, they haven’t faced the intense oversight and regulations that they might otherwise. While this legal status is evolving, it’s far from clear how any given Uber accident claim will proceed. While you’re probably covered by Uber’s commercial policy if you’re injured as an Uber passenger, it’s not as clear-cut as all that.
Determining which insurance applies can be complicated as a result, and it’s not always easy to figure out the laws. Don’t try to navigate this rocky terrain on your own–seek knowledgeable legal guidance from a San Antonio Uber car accident attorney.
The Insurance Company
Even after you’ve determined which insurance policy applies, recovering damages for your claim is still complicated. Insurance companies are in business to turn a profit. Often, that entails denying claims and minimizing payouts.
While the stress of being involved in an Uber accident is high, you may be tempted to simply accept whatever insurance settlement you are offered, though it is typically not in your best interest to do so. Injuries incurred in vehicular accidents often have lasting complications that are difficult to know and quantify immediately after an accident. The physical, financial, and emotional consequences of incurring serious injuries in a car accident are often significant.
We are here to help you with your Uber accident claim and ensure just compensation, while you focus on the important work of recovering from the accident.
Laws for Uber Drivers in Texas
States across the U.S. have increasingly begun to establish clear rules and regulations for rideshare companies, formally referred to as transportation network companies (TNCs). In 2017, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 100 (HB100) outlining TNC regulations. The extensive bill includes rules about permits and fares, as well as license and insurance requirements for Uber drivers.
Uber Driver Requirements
Under Texas law, Uber drivers must meet the following requirements before the company can allow them to offer rides in Texas through their app:
- Potential Uber drivers must be at least 18 years old
- Potential Uber drivers must have a valid driver’s license, which can be from any state in the U.S.
- Potential Uber drivers must provide proof of registration and proof of insurance for all vehicles used to transport Uber riders
Texas law also requires Uber to conduct a criminal background check on any new drivers, and to do so again every year a driver works for Uber. The check must include local, state, and national information sources. Mandatory background information includes:
- The potential or current Uber driver’s criminal history
- Search results of the United States Department of Justice’s national sex offender website
- The potential or current Uber driver’s driving record
If Uber uncovers any negative information in a driver’s background check, Uber may refuse to hire the driver or terminate their driving privileges with the company. Texas law prohibits Uber from permitting a driver if the background check reveals any of the following violations within the previous three years:
- Three or more moving violations
- Fleeing law enforcement
- Reckless driving charge
- Driving without a license
And under Texas law, any Uber driver applicants who have convictions for the following crimes in the previous seven years cannot drive for Uber:
- DUI or DWI
- Committing a felony with a vehicle
- Committing a felony with property damage
- Theft or fraud
- An act of terrorism or violence
- Sex crime requiring registration as a sex offender
Regulations Concerning Uber Insurance Requirements
Texas requires Uber drivers to carry insurance, but they are not concerned about whether the driver themselves carries the coverage or Uber provides the coverage. Texas financial responsibility laws for transportation network companies and their drivers vary based on whether the driver is actively transporting passengers or is between rides. Drivers must have the following minimum insurance coverage:
- Uber drivers who are between rides must carry $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person and $100,000 per accident; they must also have $25,000 in property damage liability
- Uber drivers who are actively transporting riders must carry $1,000,000 in combined coverage for death, bodily injury, and property damage for each accident
Uber does not provide insurance for drivers who are not signed into the Uber app, but they do provide minimum coverage under Texas law when drivers are signed in. Uber also covers drivers with $250,000 of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and comprehensive and collision coverage up to the cash value of the vehicle.
Causes of Uber Accidents in San Antonio
Traffic collisions causes are the same for Uber accidents as any other traffic accident, but the risk factors associated with rideshare employment can increase the risk of certain types of accidents. Some common causes of Uber accidents include:
- Speeding – Rushed Uber drivers try to give as many rides as they can on a shift, and riders want to get to their destinations as soon as possible, creating a tendency towards speeding and driving too fast for traffic and weather conditions. Uber accidents that occur at high speeds are more likely to result in severe injuries or fatalities.
- Distracted driving – Distractions have long been a cause of traffic accidents, but Uber drivers are especially prone to distractions due to the nature of their job. Cell phone use is illegal while driving in Texas, but Uber drivers need to regularly use their cell phones to pick up riders. Cell phones take a driver’s mind, eyes, and hands off of the road if they engage with their phone while driving. Dealing with loud, obnoxious, drunk, and unruly passengers can also distract an Uber driver and cause an accident.
- Driving under the influence – Uber drivers who drink and drive face harsh penalties under Texas law including suspension from using the app while Uber completes an investigation. This deters Uber drivers from using alcohol or drugs while driving, but it doesn’t protect passengers from other motorists who might cause an accident because they are driving under the influence.
- Fatigued driving – Uber prohibits drivers from taking fares for more than 12 hours in a row, but that doesn’t prevent Uber driver fatigue. Drivers sometimes give rides after working eight or ten hours at another job. It’s also common for Uber drivers and other rideshare drivers to provide rides for more than one company by signing in and out of multiple apps, sometimes extending their drive time to well over 12 hours. Fatigued Uber drivers risk falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident.
- Following too closely. Uber drivers who are trying to provide timely service to their passengers and give the most rides possible on a shift are often in a hurry and sometimes tailgate other vehicles. This can result in an accident if the lead vehicle makes a sudden stop or movement and the Uber vehicle doesn’t have the time to react.
- Poor vehicle maintenance – Uber drivers in San Antonio must have a 4-door vehicle that is fewer than 15 years old and in good condition with no cosmetic damage, but the law does not require any regular vehicle maintenance. Uber drivers who don’t rotate and change tires, change brake pads, or complete other preventative maintenance put passengers and other drivers at risk of a mechanical failure causing an accident.
What Should You Do After a San Antonio Uber Accident?
- Get checked out by a physician as soon as possible if you don’t go to the emergency room via ambulance immediately after the accident. Medical documentation provides evidence of any injuries caused in the accident, which an attorney might be able to use to negotiate with the defense.
- Call the police immediately if you are physically able. A police report serves as valuable evidence in negotiations with the insurance company and will be vital if you have to go to trial.
- Photograph evidence at the scene of the accident with your cell phone. Get pictures of damage, license plates, hazards, visible injuries, and anything else related to the accident.
- File a Report with Uber. Uber drivers must report accidents to the company, but you should file a report too. You can report an accident on Uber’s website.
- File an insurance claim with your carrier if you were in another vehicle. Even if the Uber driver struck your vehicle, you most likely have to report your accident to your carrier. Many companies require you to report an accident when your coverage might apply. This allows you to repair your vehicle without waiting for the Uber driver’s policy to come through. Your carrier will typically pay for the damage to your vehicle first, and then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver.
- Consult with an experienced attorney who may be able to guide you through the claims process, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for you in court if necessary. Insurance companies often deny claims, devalue claims, and make low settlement offers. An experienced attorney knows how to fight against their dubious tricks.
Recovering Damages After an Uber Accident in San Antonio
People who have suffered an injury as an Uber rider or as the driver of another vehicle can sometimes recover damages if their injury was a result of an Uber driver’s negligence. If a victim sues for damages after an Uber accident, they might recover the following damages if their attorney is able to negotiate a settlement, or a court rules in their favor:
- Medical expenses including ambulance and emergency room services, hospitalization, surgery, X-rays, and prescription medication.
- Future medical costs when severe injuries require extensive recovery or cause permanent disability.
- Rehabilitation expenses such as physical therapy and other specialist visits, as well as assistive devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs.
- Lost wages when an Uber accident victim misses time at work due to injury, treatment, and recovery.
- Lost future wages when a severe injury prevents an accident victim from returning to work or requires them to permanently change jobs.
- Non-economic damages including pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, scarring and disfigurement, and others which might apply in a particular case.
- Wrongful death damages can sometimes be available to family members who have lost a loved one in an Uber accident, depending on their relationship with the deceased. Survivors can sometimes recover funeral and burial expenses in a wrongful death lawsuit, as well as other applicable damages.
Modified Comparative Fault in Texas Uber Accidents
Often the insurance companies named in an Uber accident will use several strategies to avoid paying large claims or court-awarded damages. Insurance carriers might deny an Uber accident claim, suggest the victim had a preexisting injury, or devalue the claim in any other way they can. Shifting blame to the accident victim remains one of the most common defense tactics in personal injury accident cases because Texas applies comparative fault rules to personal injury cases.
Comparative fault, or the notion of “shared liability,” is a system where courts determine the extent to which the victim might also be at fault for an accident. If the court determines that the victim is partially at fault, they reduce damage awards by that partial amount. For example, the Uber driver’s attorney might claim that the passenger was distracting the Uber driver by yelling at him, which led to the accident, and find that the victim is therefore 25 percent at fault. If the victim sued for $400,000 in damages, the court would only award them up to $300,000 in damages.
Texas further modifies comparative fault law by applying a “51 percent threshold.” This means only victims who are 50 percent or less at fault for an accident can collect damages at all, giving the other side the motivation to shift as much blame to the victim as they can.
San Antonio Uber Accident FAQ
San Antonio saw 42,043 accidents within its city limits in just one year alone. Of those, 135 accidents led to 139 fatalities. Additionally, the city saw 608 wrecks that resulted in suspected serious injuries. While Texas does not make public who was involved in these accidents, some percentage almost certainly involved rideshare drivers. Most people know what to do when they get into an accident, but what about when you are riding in a stranger’s vehicle? The answer depends on who is at fault for the accident.
Who pays for my damages?
Texas is an at fault state, which means the at-fault driver’s insurance pays your damages. The same applies if you are injured in a rideshare accident. If the other driver is at fault, you would file a claim against that person’s insurance policy. If your Uber or Lyft driver is at fault, you would file a claim against the Uber or Lyft driver’s insurance.
Does Uber have insurance that covers me if I am injured in a rideshare vehicle?
Uber states that every driver must have their own vehicle insurance. However, Uber does provide additional auto insurance on a driver’s behalf, including $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $100,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident when the driver is available or waiting for a ride request.
During a trip, or en route to pick up a rider, Uber provides $1,000,000 in third-party liability coverage, uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, and contingent comprehensive coverage up to the cash value of the vehicle. The contingent comprehensive coverage has a deductible of $1,000.
If the at-fault driver’s vehicle insurance and Uber’s insurance, if applicable, is not enough to cover your damages, you can make a claim against your own auto insurance for the balance.
Can I sue Uber?
Uber’s drivers are independent contractors, so, technically, Uber is not responsible for your damages if your driver is at fault in an accident—although some states and federal courts are ruling otherwise, and we are closely monitoring those laws and cases to see how they might apply to Uber accidents here in San Antonio.
However, if you prove that the company was somehow negligent, you might have a case against Uber. For example, if Uber allowed a person with a DUI record to drive for it, and that driver was under the influence and caused your accident, you might have a case against Uber.
What do I do if I notice my Uber driver is drunk or under the influence of drugs?
Immediately end your ride. Contact Uber through the app to let the company know that the driver was driving under the influence. If you do not realize your driver is driving under the influence until the driver causes an accident, call first responders as you would in any other accident, then report the driver through the app.
What do I do if my Uber driver gets in an accident?
If your Uber driver gets into an accident, check on anyone involved in the accident, if you are able. Call first responders. Get the contact information for any witnesses and drivers. In addition to the contact information for drivers, including your Uber driver, be sure to ask for the insurance and registration information for any drivers involved in the accident. Take photos of the accident scene. Be sure to get photos from all angles, and photos of any property damage.
When paramedics arrive, make sure you get checked out, even if you think you are not hurt. Before you leave the scene, ask a police officer about getting a copy of the accident report if you are not familiar with the process. Once you are cleared to leave the scene, you should get medical attention as soon as possible. Let your doctor or the emergency department know that you were in an accident. Finally, contact a car accident attorney to help you collect damages others might owe you.
Can I settle a rideshare accident case myself?
Rideshare accident cases are notoriously difficult because of the number of insurance companies involved. At a minimum, three insurance companies might share in the liability for damages: the rideshare driver’s insurance, the rideshare company’s insurance, and your insurance. The other driver’s insurance may be involved, as well.
If your Uber driver gets into an accident with a commercial driver, such as a delivery truck or tractor-trailer, several more insurance companies could enter your case, including the truck driver’s insurance, the trucking company’s insurance, the truck owner’s insurance, the lessee’s insurance, and maybe even insurance companies for truck manufacturers, parts manufacturers, dispatchers, and third-party maintenance companies.
Because of the number of parties involved in settlement negotiations and/or litigation after a rideshare accident, we recommend retaining a car accident lawyer with rideshare case experience.
What damages might I recover?
If you are in an accident, you might recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages, sometimes referred to as special damages, can include: past and future medical expenses; physical, cognitive, and psychological therapies; repair or replacement of personal property damaged in the accident; and funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as general damages, can include:
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship when the accident victim can no longer participate in family activities
- Loss of consortium if the accident victim can no longer have a physical relationship with their spouse
- Inconvenience if the accident victim or their family needs to pay someone to take over household duties, such as childcare, cleaning, home maintenance, grocery shopping, or mowing the lawn
- Damages for disfigurement or loss of use of a body part or function, such as a hand or eyesight
The court usually awards non-economic damages if you suffer a long-term injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or paralysis. While the insurance companies might have their own definitions for long-term disability, the Social Security Administration considers any disability that lasts for more than 12 months or that will result in death as long-term.
If you were injured in an Uber accident, contact the Law Offices of George Salinas for a free consultation.
Contact an Uber Accident Lawyer in San Antonio
If you’ve been injured in an Uber accident, you might feel overwhelmed and find yourself struggling with the pain, stress, and financial issues that accompany a severe injury. A qualified Uber accident lawyer understands how to deal with complex ridesharing cases and can protect their clients from insurance companies who are only watching out for their own bottom line.
Contact the skilled legal team at The Law Offices of George Salinas in San Antonio at (210) 225-0909 for a free consultation to discuss the specifics surrounding your Uber accident. Texas law provides you two years to take legal action, so it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. We handle cases on a contingent fee basis, only recovering attorney’s fees from any damages our clients receive.