Uber is being sued in Dallas by a woman who was paralyzed in an accident involving one of their drivers.
A lawsuit filed recently in Texas raises questions about Uber’s legal responsibility for its drivers’ actions.
The lawsuit was filed by Sarah Milburn, 24, who suffered devastating injuries after taking an Uber in which she rode home from a night out in uptown Dallas ran a red light and was hit by a Ford F-150.
Milburn was hospitalized with critical injuries: her spinal cord was severed, and she is now a paraplegic, unable to move anything below her chest. Her life will never be the same.
She is now suing a variety of defendants, including Uber Technologies, as well as the Uber driver, Arian Yusufzai. She claims that Uber should have done a better job of vetting Yusufzai, who had a criminal record, and whose vehicle was uninsured and owned by a friend (who also had a criminal record). The vehicle owner is included as a defendant in the lawsuit, which also names Honda Motor Company. The lawsuit seeks to recover millions of dollars for her catastrophic injuries, but no amount can restore the quality of life she could have led before the car accident.
Car accident law is a complicated field of law. Like accidents involving government entities such as police, or defective automobiles (product liability), Uber accidents, however, add another layer of complexity.
How much is Uber liable for Uber accident claims?
For passengers, Uber has an insurance policy that covers any injuries that occur while riding in an Uber vehicle — at least, in theory.
Uber drivers are not “employees” of the company, but instead are considered “third party contractors.” This might sound like a trivial difference is actually a strong legal distinction.
Employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees when they are acting within the scope and course of employment. This is not the case for independent contractors, like Yusufzai. By setting up its drivers as “contractors,” Uber can wash its hands of legal responsibility for their actions while on the job.
Uber drivers are only covered by the company’s insurance when they are carrying a passenger. If their Uber app is on, but they do not have a passenger in the car (even if they are on the way to pick up a passenger), they are not covered by Uber. Frequently, they are not covered by their own insurance policies, either.
What is the highest amount you receive for Uber accident claims?
Uber’s third party liability coverage policy covers passengers and drivers – when they have passengers in the car – for up to $1 million. Uber also holds uninsured motorist coverage with a limit of $1 million, and collision insurance that covers drivers’ vehicles up to the cash value of their vehicle, with a deductible of $1,000.
Of course, depending on the circumstances, you may file a lawsuit directly against Uber, as in the above-mentioned case. If you do this, there is no policy limit, but can only be done if you have grounds to sue Uber (for instance, if they hired a man with a criminal background to drive for them).
What should I do if I am in an Uber accident?
Because Uber accidents are so tricky, and because this is such a new and untested area of car accident law, you will need the best legal representation if you find yourself in that situation.
Our firm has extensive experience in dealing with Uber accidents, and we know how to bring about the best possible outcome for our clients. Call us for a free consultation.
For a more thorough article on how to deal with these types of accidents, check out our Ultimate Guide to Uber and Lyft Accidents here .