What is Uber?
The ridesharing services that are provided by Uber drivers have become tremendously popular in the Tampa area over the company’s short existence. Becoming an Uber customer is as simple as having a credit or debit card and a smartphone. By using the Uber app, users can quickly travel locally at a price that’s less than by taxi. Unlike a taxi service, Uber drivers aren’t going to pick up passengers who might try to flag them down on the street. The only way that customers get in an Uber vehicle is through the Uber app. In Tampa, Uber offers UberX, UberXL and Uber Select vehicles. Pickups are common at Tampa International Airport (TPA) and many people use Uber to visit Amalie Arena, Raymond James Stadium or just simply get picked up and dropped off around Tampa.
Florida is a No-Fault State:
Uber drivers are independent contractors, and like any other driver, they have a legal duty to be free from carelessness and negligence, especially when paying passengers are in their vehicle. If an Uber driver breaches that duty and causes injury to a passenger or a third party, that driver can be held liable for the accident victim’s damages. When an Uber passenger is injured in a crash, genuine legal questions arise as to who the passenger might be able to pursue for compensation for the damages that he or she suffered. The first factor that has to be considered though is the fact that Florida is a no-fault insurance state. There is a threshold that an injured car accident victim must overcome if he or she wants to pursue personal injury damages.
Florida’s No-Fault Law:
The no-fault insurance laws of Florida require owners of automobiles that are registered in the state to carry a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. When an Uber driver is transporting a passenger, that PIP coverage is through Uber’s insurer. Without regard to who was at fault for an accident, this PIP coverage will pay 80% the injured passenger’s medical bills and 60% of his or her lost earnings up to the applicable PIP limit. In the event of a death, it would also pay up to $5,000 in funeral and burial expenses. The general rule is that the passenger would be required to exhaust Uber’s PIP coverage limits before he or she can file a personal injury lawsuit against the Uber driver. That would overcome one threshold.
The Serious Injury Exception:
As per Florida Statutes section 627.737, an injured Uber passenger would also be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an Uber driver if he or she suffered one of the following:
- A significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- An injury that is permanent within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- The victim suffered significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement.
- The passenger died as a result of injuries suffered in the accident.
Can a Passenger Bring a Personal Injury Claim After An Uber Accident?
After overcoming the threshold, if you were a passenger, another driver or occupant of a car, a motorcyclist, bicyclist or pedestrian, you can bring your personal injury claim or lawsuit against an Uber driver and Uber. Under Florida law, any Uber driver in the state is required to be insured at the $1 million Uber policy limit when that driver is transporting a customer.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance:
Uber also covers its drivers with uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance for $1 million. An Uber passenger who was injured by a third party driver who was uninsured or had policy limits too low to cover the passenger’s damages can bring a claim under this coverage. Even if you were injured in an accident with an Uber driver who was not logged into the Uber app, you should still arrange for a free consultation and case review with an Uber accident lawyer from our offices. PIP coverage of $10,000 could be insufficient. We might still be able to help you.
Uber Insurance Confusion:
One of the pivotal issues for an injured Uber passenger is that of auto insurance. Uber vehicles are owned by the individual drivers. They’re not employees of Uber. When the driver isn’t on the Uber app, the car is being used as a personal vehicle. Once the driver is on the app and available to carry passengers, Uber has supplemental coverage that’s triggered. Upon taking passengers, the $1 million of coverage applies. There are likely to be intervals that appear to be gaps in coverage.
Building a Case:
As an injured passenger, you can file a personal injury claim against Uber and one of its drivers, but you must be able to prove that the Uber driver caused the crash. This is going to be like proving any other crash. You’ll want to call 911. Ask that both police and paramedics be dispatched to the scene. A police officer will investigate the accident and write up an accident report. Paramedics can stabilize you at the scene, and they can take you to a local emergency room where you’ll be examined and treated. Don’t let anybody talk you out of calling 911 for any reason.
The Request for a Statement:
Insurance companies make incredible amounts of money by charging their insured customers premiums. Then, they invest that money to make even more money. When claims are made against their insured people, an insurer will do whatever it can do to devalue a claimant’s damages or even deny the claim in its entirety. Obtaining a statement from the claimant is one way of devaluing or denying a claim. You can expect Uber’s insurer to contact you, and after some small talk, the adjuster will ask you to give a recorded statement. No matter what that adjuster says, politely refuse to give it any kind of a statement. In one way or another, your words will probably either be used against you or somebody else. Never give any kind of a statement to an opposing insurer in an accident case.
The Medical Authorization:
Uber’s insurer could mail you a medical authorization for signature and return. Don’t sign it, and don’t return it either. Ignore it. The insurer wants to look at your medical history and see if you suffered a previous injury to the same part of your body in the past. Then, it can argue that you had a preexisting injury, and you were damaged goods already.
Contact a Tampa Uber Accident Lawyer.
Protect your best interests by contacting us right away for that free consultation and case evaluation after suffering any injuries in an Uber accident. Our objective is to obtain the maximum compensation that you deserve through a settlement or lawsuit.