As one of the first and most popular ridesharing apps, Uber helps countless people across the country find rides. Uber is especially popular in large cities like Washington, D.C. where owning a vehicle is expensive and cumbersome. While the company enjoys its reputation as a leading rideshare program, there are risks when it comes to using Uber. An Uber accident can and does happen because of inexperienced and negligent Uber drivers and other motorists in Washington DC.
Because of the commercial nature of Uber and its special relationship with drivers and passengers alike, these accidents are unlike other automobile wrecks. Seeking compensation for your injuries requires a law firm that is especially skilled in handling Washington DC Uber accident litigation. Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP is that law firm.
The Basics Of A DC Uber Accident
Similar to other ridesharing programs, users first download the Uber app onto their smartphones. They create a profile and upload their banking information so they can pay for rides directly through the app. When they’re ready to go somewhere, they use the app to request a nearby driver who then comes to pick them up.
It’s similar to hailing a cab, with a few critical differences:
- A private vehicle is used, rather than a taxi cab that is regularly inspected and maintained
- Uber drivers are not specially trained; they are simply private motorists
- Ridesharing is the use of a private vehicle for commercial use, which creates complications with the driver’s automobile liability insurance
These and other factors make Uber accidents different from most automobile crashes. However, there are certainly similarities between Uber and other automobile accidents, particularly when it comes to the most common causes of these wrecks.
Why Do Uber Accidents Happen?
If you’re a victim in an automobile accident involving an Uber driver – whether you are a passenger, another motorist, a pedestrian, or the driver him- or herself – you will almost certainly suffer damages. But recovering compensation requires you and your attorney to lay out why the accident happened. Like most other automobile accidents, Uber wrecks happen because of:
- The Uber driver or another motorist driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The Uber driver or another motorist speeding or violating other traffic laws
- Distracted driving caused by texting, cell phone use, disruptive passengers, and more
- Poor weather and other environmental conditions, like nighttime driving in poorly lit areas
- Dangerous road conditions, including potholes, unmarked lanes, and construction zones
- Reckless driving, aggressive driving, and road rage
- Vehicle maintenance and mechanical problems
Insurance Issues With Uber Accidents
One thing that makes Uber accidents unique involves insurance. Private motorists who use their vehicles for commercial purposes, including ridesharing programs, are generally not covered by their automobile liability insurance policies. Fortunately, Uber offers insurance coverage for those injured in wrecks involving their drivers. But that doesn’t mean collecting is easy.
An Uber driver who gets into an accident on the way to pick up a passenger, or while the passenger is in the vehicle, is considered on duty. Uber offers liability insurance of up to $1 million in such an incident, and this coverage can be claimed by the injured passenger as well. If another motorist caused the accident, it may be possible to recover from that person’s automobile insurance as well.
However, if the accident happened while the Uber driver was off duty, Uber will usually not cover it. Off duty generally means the Uber driver’s app was off or he or she had not accepted a passenger when the wreck occurred. It will then be necessary to file through the private insurance policy of whichever driver was at fault.
Another motorist who was injured may be able to claim through Uber if the driver was on duty at the time. If not, then private insurance will need to be used. Cases get even more complicated when a pedestrian or bicyclist is involved because their accidents tend to be more severe.
Finally, there’s a difference between being eligible for Uber’s insurance coverage and actually obtaining it. Like any other business, insurers work to maximize profits and minimize losses. That means denying and underpaying claims whenever they can. If you’ve been hurt in any way involving an Uber driver, retaining experienced legal counsel is imperative.
Other Issues Unique To DC Uber Accidents
As mentioned above, there are two other main differences between Uber and other automobile wrecks:
- The Uber driver has no special training
- The Uber driver’s vehicle may not be properly maintained or repaired
These elements can complicate Uber accident claims because they introduce other potential negligent acts or omissions. Let’s say the Uber driver was off duty at the time of the accident, so Uber’s insurance is out of the picture. Because the driver has no special training, he or she is more likely to be negligent compared to an experienced taxi driver. This may make it easier for the victim to claim damages through the driver’s insurance policy.
On the other hand, a poorly maintained or repaired vehicle could bring other parties into the case, such as mechanics and repair shops. Automobile manufacturers may be held liable if they manufactured the vehicle with defective parts.
As you can tell, a relatively simple automobile accident can quickly become complicated when so many potential parties and different insurance policies are involved. Establishing liability, identifying all possible defendants, and then demanding compensation require the patience and skill of a knowledgeable Washington, DC Uber accident attorney.
Contact Our DC Uber Accident Attorney
Uber passengers shouldn’t have to worry that their trip to the movies could result in a trip to the hospital. But drivers, other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists deserve legal protection from negligence as well. If you were involved in an Uber accident that wasn’t your fault, you owe it to yourself to explore your legal rights. Call Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP now.
Koonz McKenney Johnson & Depaolis serve residents of Washington DC including those living in Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Downtown District of Columbia, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, and Mount Vernon.