According to a news report, a young woman has filed a lawsuit against Uber, an Uber driver, and Honda following a two-vehicle accident that allegedly broke her spinal column and left her paralyzed. The accident reportedly happened when the young woman was riding as a passenger in a Honda Odyssey van driven by an Uber driver after a night out celebrating a friend’s birthday.
The report was somewhat confusing about the manner in which the accident occurred. Apparently, the Uber driver did not stop at a red light, but the other driver – not the Uber driver – was charged with causing an accident that resulted in a serious bodily injury.
What Happens Next?
This is likely to be a lengthy and complex lawsuit. The report indicates that the gist of the woman’s complaint against Uber is that the company did not provide her with the “safety she reasonably expected.” One way in which the company allegedly failed in this regard is that it hired the Uber driver despite his previous convictions on gambling and drug charges.
Presumably, the young woman’s claims against Honda sound in product liability, since the vehicle allegedly flipped during the accident. If the gravamen of the complaint against Honda pertains to the crashworthiness of the vehicle or other issues pertaining to safety, it is probable that engineers, accident reconstructionists, and other experts representing both the plaintiff and Honda will weigh in on possible design, manufacturing, or marketing defects. This process can take months or even years as the case proceeds through the discovery phase and on toward trial.
The claim against the Uber driver is most likely a negligence claim, and, to be successful, the young woman will have to prove that the driver breached a standard of care that was owed to her and that, as a proximate result, she suffered damages. Given that the Uber driver was apparently not charged in the accident – even though he allegedly failed to stop at a stoplight – this could be challenging. Of course, it will be up to the court to decide fault in the case. Although police reports may give an opinion as to who caused an accident, this is not binding on the court in a subsequent lawsuit.
Whose Insurance Applies in an Uber Accident?
According to Uber’s website, its commercial drivers are covered under a $1 million liability insurance policy while they are carrying passengers for hire. The website does not say whether this coverage is per person or per accident, but it is probably per accident (meaning that multiple passengers would have to share in the coverage if both were seriously hurt). Between trips, the drivers are still insured by Uber’s liability policy, but the policy limits are drastically lower: $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident. In practical terms, this means that a single passenger could potentially receive up to $1 million if they are seriously injured in an accident in which an Uber driver was at fault, but another motorist or a pedestrian hurt by an Uber driver between rides could only receive a maximum of $50,000. Of course, Uber may have other insurance, such as commercial umbrella policies, that could potentially be a source of additional coverage.
If an Uber driver is “offline,” he or she is only covered by his or her personal automobile insurance. It should be noted that many such policies contain restrictions, exclusions, and other provisions pertaining to insureds who drive for Uber or another ride-for-hire service, so coverage issues could arise if an “offline” Uber driver is involved in an accident.
Talk to an Experienced East Texas Car Wreck Lawyer
If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, knowledgeable east Texas car accident attorney Earl Drott is available to answer the many questions you probably have about your legal rights and the at-fault driver’s liability for your injuries. Call us at (903) 531-9300 to schedule a free consultation.
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