Were You Injured by a Drunk Uber Driver?
Under Illinois law, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. In fact, it is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol generally, so it is possible to face DUI charges with a BAC of less than .08. Of course, these limits apply to everyone on the road – including people who drive others for money. If you suffered injuries in an Uber accident that resulted from a driver’s negligence, a knowledgeable Chicago rideshare accident attorney in your area could be an invaluable help to your case.
Who Can I Hold Responsible After an Uber Accident?
Despite the well-known dangers of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, many drivers continue to get behind the wheel after drinking too much. Drivers who operate vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent are legally intoxicated. However, since it is also against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol in general, a police officer can arrest an individual with a BAC that’s below the 0.08 percent legal limit.
Drunk driving is against the law because it presents many dangers. Alcohol is a depressant and slows down a driver’s central nervous system. Consequently, they may experience physical symptoms, including nausea and blurred vision. They may also experience limited concentration and delayed reaction time. Therefore, they may not stop their vehicles in time to avoid a serious crash if an emergency situation arises on the road. In short, alcohol prevents a driver from operating their vehicle safely and carefully.
Today, more people than ever rely upon ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. However, with the prevalence of ridesharing vehicles comes the increased possibility of intoxicated drivers. When an Uber driver operates their vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.08 percent, or if they are impaired, they can face serious criminal penalties upon conviction for DUI. Moreover, if they cause an accident that leads to injuries, they and their insurers may be liable for the resulting damages.
You have legal options if you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle crash while riding in an Uber. First, your lawyer can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident, your injuries, and your medical treatment. Next, your lawyer can determine the appropriate insurance company to file your personal injury claim for damages.
After negotiating with the insurance company adjuster, your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept a settlement offer or pursue litigation in court. If you choose the latter, your attorney can file a lawsuit in court on your behalf and pursue the maximum damages you deserve for your injuries.
What is Uber and Lyft and How Are They Affecting Society?
Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular ridesharing companies around. These companies virtually have the whole market when it comes to inexpensive, reliable, and safe transportation. This is especially true for individuals who are traveling to and from airports, train stations, and other transportation centers.
Uber riders can download an app onto their iPhones and other smart devices. Further, when using the Uber app a rider can request and pay for rides and keep track of a driver’s physical location at all times. Riders are also told the amount of their fare and can store their payment information online for added convenience.
Despite the advantages and convenience that ridesharing companies like Uber have offered consumers, there are always risks associated with getting from place to place. For example, drunk or drugged drivers. Impaired drivers are at an increased risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents. Further, serious injuries and damages may result to everyone in the vehicle(s).
In these cases, several individuals, companies, and/or insurance carriers may share in the potential liability to the injured passenger or passengers. This is known as a third-party injury claim.
If you sustain injuries as a result of an Uber drunk driving accident, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation. The personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can investigate your case. If necessary, we can name all necessary (and potentially responsible) parties in a claim or lawsuit. By working with a rideshare accident lawyer, you will maximize your chances of recovering monetary compensation for your injuries in the accident.
Ridesharing Company Drivers: Employees versus Independent Contractors
To drive for a ridesharing company like Uber or Lyft, all prospective drivers must undergo a comprehensive background review. Ridesharing drivers must also pay for and maintain their own motor vehicle insurance coverage when they are not driving for their company. Uber provides active insurance coverage when a driver is on the way to pick up a fare—and when transporting a fare to their final destination.
Even when ridesharing drivers work for Uber, some debate remains about whether these individuals are employees or independent contractors. Generally speaking, an employee receives a W-2 tax form at the end of the year. Independent contractors, on the other hand, receive a 1099 tax form at year’s end.
The distinction between employees and independent contractors becomes important in personal injury claims and lawsuits. In many instances, ridesharing companies insist that their drivers are not employees so that they can avoid responsibility for the negligent actions and inactions of their drivers while on the job.
Uber Company Policies
Even though Uber sometimes claims that its drivers are independent contractors, Uber often treats their drivers like employees. This is because Uber and other ridesharing companies have at least some control over their drivers’ activities.
As far as drunk driving is concerned, Uber applies a zero-tolerance policy. Individuals
who use the Uber app and who drive for Uber may not use drugs or alcohol at any time.
Moreover, Uber’s website asks that riders publicly share their experiences. If an app user believes that their driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the road, the company encourages riders to terminate their trip immediately.
Drunk Uber Drivers
Like all other motor vehicle operators, Uber drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles in a careful, safe, and sober manner at all times. If a rider suffers an injury in an Uber accident, several entities and individuals can share fault for the accident. First, the negligent Uber driver and their insurance company may be responsible for damages.
All Uber drivers must maintain their own motor vehicle insurance policy, and in general, insurance coverage follows a vehicle, not a specific driver. Therefore, if an Uber driver operates their vehicle while intoxicated—and they cause an accident while in the scope of their job duties—Uber’s insurance coverage may come into play and provide some or part of the available insurance coverage.
Filing a Claim Directly Against Uber or Their Insurance Company
Filing a claim or lawsuit against Uber is sometimes a lengthy and complicated process. Uber and other ridesharing companies sometimes try and make riders sign off on an agreement that prevents them from filing a claim or lawsuit against Uber directly. These waivers may also limit a rider’s settlement potential if they suffer injuries in an accident.
You should never sign an agreement like this under any circumstances unless you first contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who regularly handles Uber accident cases. If you sign one of these agreements, there is a good chance that you may limit—or waive completely—your ability to recover monetary compensation after an Uber accident.
When a ridesharing vehicle driver operates their vehicle while intoxicated and causes an accident, Uber’s insurance coverage may come into play. Several types of Uber coverage exist, depending on the circumstances.
First, Uber provides insurance coverage limits of $50,000/$100,000/$25,000 for the time that elapses between fares. This coverage only comes into play in the event an Uber driver’s personal insurance company will not entertain an Uber rider’s personal injury claim or lawsuit. Uber also provides $1 million worth of liability coverage during the time when an Uber driver is on the way to pick up a fare—or actually on a ride, transporting a fare to their destination.
Moreover, the company provides $1 million worth of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage benefits. However, this coverage only comes into play when some other driver causes the subject accident, and the Uber driver or passenger suffers injuries. In addition, the responsible driver needs to be either completely uninsured—or underinsured—for this particular coverage to apply. Lastly, Uber will not provide insurance coverage for accident-related injuries if a driver is not using the Uber app when the accident occurs. In that instance, the injured passenger will need to file a claim under the at-fault Uber driver’s personal liability policy.
Common Injuries That Uber Accident Victims Suffer
Passengers in Uber and Lyft vehicles can suffer extremely serious injuries in an accident. This is especially true if the crash occurs at a high rate of speed. Sometimes, when an Uber driver is under the influence of alcohol, they may cause their vehicle to strike a stationary object near the side of the road—such as a tree or concrete median. At other times, another driver causes the accident by rear-ending the Uber vehicle, sideswiping it, or colliding with it head-on.
In any case, the injuries that an Uber passenger suffers can be debilitating and sometimes deadly. Those injuries may depend upon the force of the crash and whether or not the accident victim’s body strikes something in the Uber vehicle. For example, an Uber passenger might strike their head on the headrest, window, or door frame in a forceful collision.
Common injuries that Uber accident victims suffer include traumatic head and brain damage, cuts, bruises, soft tissue neck and back contusions, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis.
Following an Uber accident, you should seek medical treatment at an emergency medical facility right away. While you are there, the responding medical provider can order the necessary X-rays, imaging studies, and CT scans to diagnose your medical condition. Moreover, if you require additional treatment, the provider can make the necessary recommendations. For instance, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor—or with a medical specialist, like an orthopedist or neurologist.
When you treat your injuries, a knowledgeable Uber accident attorney in your area can start handling the legal aspects of your case. First, they can start gathering your medical treatment records and bills to date, as well as lost wage documentation from your employer. Your lawyer can also obtain photographs of your injuries and property damage, as well as a personal statement that you prepare. Once your medical treatment is complete, your attorney can submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster and start negotiating a claim settlement on your behalf.
Recovering Monetary Compensation and Damages after an Uber Accident
Victims of Uber accidents often suffer serious injuries that require ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation. Medical bills can pile up quickly, especially when accident victims are unable to work for a period of time after their accident.
The monetary damages that Uber accident victims may recover often depend upon the extent of their injuries and medical treatment, their pain and suffering, and whether or not they suffered a permanent injury in their accident.
Permanent injuries are those which are unlikely to recover fully. To establish that a particular injury is permanent, an accident victim must obtain medical testimony from a qualified healthcare provider. The provider must be willing to state on the record, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the injury or injuries in question are unlikely to resolve over time.
Common types of monetary compensation that Uber accident victims may recover include compensation for their:
- Related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of money capacity
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
An Uber accident attorney in your area can determine which of these damages you can pursue and are likely to recover in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Call an Experienced Uber Accident Attorney About Your Legal Matter Today
If you suffered injuries in an Uber accident that resulted from a driver’s negligence, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area can be an invaluable help to your case. First, your lawyer can identify the appropriate insurance company and file the necessary personal injury claim for damages on your behalf.
Your lawyer can also help you negotiate favorable settlement compensation and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in the court system. Finally, your attorney can represent you in all legal proceedings, including a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing. Your lawyer will do everything they can to maximize the monetary recovery you receive for your Uber accident injuries. Never wait to start the process of financial recovery for your losses.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602