With the advent of companies such as Uber and Lyft, the taxi industry is nothing like it was 20 years ago. Now, just about anyone can charge for rides.
Taxi fares have dropped dramatically, to the point where the average person can actually afford the fares. In another 10 years, the traditional taxi industry might disappear altogether.
Although this new business model has simplified a lot of issues, it has introduced new complications as well.
Uber drivers are typically not as well-trained as traditional taxi drivers, and accidents are not uncommon. When an accident does occur, the insurance situation can get complex very quickly. An Uber claim, for example, might involve:
- The Uber driver’s commercial auto insurance;
- The Uber driver’s personal auto insurance; and
The other driver’s auto insurance, in a shared fault two-car accident.
If all three of the foregoing insurance policies are involved, you can expect each insurance company to try to shift responsibility to the others.
There Is No “Average” Settlement
First, the bad news—there is no average Uber accident settlement in California, or anywhere else. Not a meaningful average, anyway.
Every case is different, and settlement values vary so widely that quoting an “average” would likely mislead you. Expecting less than you deserve is particularly dangerous because it may encourage you to accept a low settlement far too easily.
Now, the good news: Uber rideshare settlements can be substantial.
Furthermore, due to Uber’s commercial insurance, you don’t need to worry that the defendant cannot afford to pay. And if the insurance company is too stubborn to settle, an Uber crash lawsuit is always an option.
Uber Accident Settlement Amounts
The value of an Uber accident settlement payout depends on a number of factors, including:
- Whether the accident involved another at-fault driver (you or someone else);
- The amount of your past, present, and future medical bills;
- The amount of lost earnings you sustained;
- Your intangible losses (the amount of your pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.);
- Other losses you may have sustained (babysitting expenses while you were in the hospital, for example);
- The defendant’s financial resources; and
- The negotiation and litigation skills of your lawyer.
The negotiation and litigation skills of your lawyer are probably the factors that you are most likely to overlook. It is also the factor that an insurance adjuster on the other side is least likely to overlook, at least when determining whether to reject a final settlement offer and allow the case to proceed to trial.
Other than the skill of your lawyer, perhaps the most neglected factor in calculating the value of a car accident settlement is the defendant’s financial resources. It doesn’t matter if you are legally entitled to a million dollars—if the defendant cannot afford to pay, the judgement will do you little good.
If the defendant is an Uber driver, however, you are likely to be in luck as long as the driver was carrying a passenger.
Uber offers insurance to its drivers, with coverage of up to a million dollars in third-party liability. As a victim of an accident caused by an Uber driver, you are a “third party.” The first two parties are the Uber driver and the Uber insurance company.
If the Uber Driver Was Not Carrying a Passenger at the Time of the Accident
If the Uber driver’s app was not on at the time of the accident, you will have to rely on their personal auto liability insurance.
If he was in “available” status or waiting for a ride request at the time of the accident, his Uber commercial insurance will only cover $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident.
Joint and Several Liability When Two Drivers Are At Fault
Suppose you are a passenger in an Uber vehicle, and you are injured in an accident caused by both the Uber driver and another driver.
Suppose further that your claim is large, that the Uber driver can pay their share under California’s comparative fault principles, but the other driver cannot pay because their insurance coverage isn’t sufficient.
Under California’s joint and several liability rules, you might be able to demand the entire value of your claim from the Uber driver’s commercial insurance policy, and leave it to the Uber driver’s insurance company to seek reimbursement from the other at-fault driver.
When Settlement Negotiations Break Down: Uber Accident Lawsuits
If settlement negotiations fail, filing a lawsuit is always an option. There are three main reasons you might file a lawsuit, and two of them apply even if you prefer to resolve your claim out of court.
The first reason is that filing a lawsuit shows the other side (or, more likely, the other side’s insurance company) that you mean business. If your lawyer enjoys a successful track record at trial, filing a lawsuit is one of the best ways to break a settlement impasse.
The second reason for filing a lawsuit is to gain access to the discovery process. The discovery process is the court-supervised process of gathering evidence. Discovery can compel the other side to release evidence and produce witnesses who you can question under oath.
Taking It All the Way to Trial
The third reason to file a lawsuit is that you have given up on settlement negotiations and are ready for trial.
Yes, some defendants really are that stubborn. In this case, you are certainly going to need a law firm with a successful track record at trial. Remember, you can settle a claim even after the trial begins, all the way up to the final verdict.
Our Clients Come First
The personal injury attorneys at Saeedian Law Group have won generous settlements and verdicts for thousands of injured clients.
We have the experience, knowledge, and trial skills to take your case all the way to trial, should that become necessary. More commonly, we use our trial skills as a bargaining chip to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact us by calling (310) 288-3000 or by contacting us online for a free initial consultation. Although our office is located in Beverly Hills, we help clients all the way down to San Diego.