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Uber Accidents

Erie Uber Accident Lawyer

Being involved in an Erie, Pennsylvania Uber accident can be complex and confusing, especially when it comes to insurance coverage. Nonetheless, no matter what type of accident you are involved in, whether you are an Uber driver, passenger, pedestrian or the driver of another vehicle, there is usually an insurance policy to cover injuries sustained in a collision.

The insurance question is typically confusing because Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” auto insurance state. That means that every insurance policy can be either a no-fault or a fault policy. A no-fault insurance policy offers coverage of at least $5,000 for injuries no matter who is deemed to be at fault for the collision.

Uber is steadily gaining more recognition across the country and roughly 15 percent of Americans have used ride-sharing services such as Uber. However, Uber accidents are common across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Uber has ushered in a 17 percent decrease in traffic deaths, accidents still happen. When they do, recovering compensation for personal injuries can often be a long and involved process.

What is Uber?

Uber is the first on demand smartphone platform ride-share application launched in 2012. By 2018, Uber had become so popular that it is now available globally in 789 cities and over 84 countries. Uber was the precursor to other ride-share applications, such as Lyft, Sidecar and Curb. Uber retains its popularity with over 41.8 million U.S. users and over 75 million users globally.

Uber strictly relies on drivers, referred to as independent contractors, with their own vehicles. Uber provides the platform to connect customers and drivers. The Uber smartphone application is downloadable to Windows, Android and iPhone, and takes care of the whole ride-hailing and payment process, and in some cities you may pay cash for Uber services.

Why auto insurance is complex in cases of Uber accidents

In a regular non-Uber vehicle-to-vehicle collision, each driver gets insurance information from those involved in the accident and then files a claim against the other driver’s insurance. Once a decision relating to who is at fault is made, injured parties receive compensation. If a driver has no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) in Pennsylvania, a first party claim is made to your own insurance that covers medical expenses despite who was at fault.

Pennsylvania mandates that all drivers have auto insurance and there is a “state minimum.”

Those minimums are:

  • $15,000 min. coverage per person for bodily injury liability
  • $30,000 min. coverage per accident for injury
  • $5,000 min. coverage for property damage liability
  • $15,000 min. coverage per person/$30,000 per accident for uninsured/underinsured motorists*

*Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania is optional even though the law states all licensed drivers must carry liability insurance to legally drive a car. Many drivers do not comply with the law.

In cases where a driver has no insurance (uninsured/UM) or does not have much insurance coverage (underinsured/UIM) UIM/UM coverage kicks in. At Melaragno, Placidi, & Parini we understand how confusing this can be and take the time to make sure you understand your options if you have been involved in an Uber accident.

Uber insurance for drivers

When you are involved in a car accident with or involving an Uber driver, the first thing to be aware of is that although Uber has relatively good insurance coverage for drivers, it has limits on when it applies. Uber insurance coverage will vary depending on which period an Uber driver was in.

Period 1: Insurance in this period is applicable when the driver is not using the application and is off-duty. A driver’s personal insurance covers accidents.
Period 2: When an Uber driver is logged into the application, but has not yet accepted a ride. Uber’s reduced contingent insurance policy covers these accidents. The insurance kicks in when the driver has their own insurance.
Period 3: When an Uber driver accepts a ride and drops the passenger at their destination. Uber’s $1 million insurance policy covers accidents. It kicks in when the driver is at fault. It is a third party insurance policy that protects other drivers/passengers when the Uber driver is at fault. If the other driver(s) was at fault, that driver’s insurance covers injuries.

If the other driver has a low/minimum auto insurance policy and it does not fully cover serious injuries such as spinal cord injuries or brain trauma, the Uber $1 million policy acts like an uninsured/underinsured policy and covers injuries beyond what the at-fault driver’s insurance handles.

How Uber may try and avoid settling insurance claims

Uber considers itself to be a technology provider, since they provide the Uber application and do not provide vehicles or drivers. This means they are not a transportation company and they attempt to limit responsibility/liability for Uber accidents. In keeping with that point-of-view, Uber drivers are not employees of the company. They are independent contractors and are therefore responsible to provide safe transport.

However, as a paying customer, you chose Uber to be safe. By shifting the responsibility for your safety to the driver it is then more difficult to obtain compensation from the company. Additionally, accident victims may also discover that many Uber drivers have limited insurance coverage because they are ride-share drivers, posing a higher risk for the insurance company and increasing rates for the driver, which explains why they may have limited insurance coverage, a fact that complicates the claims process even further.

Each accident involving an Uber driver/vehicle is evaluated by our Uber accident attorneys at Melaragno, Placidi, & Parini. We can advise you on whether or not there is an opportunity to recover more than the Uber driver’s insurance and the Uber supplemental insurance.

Melaragno, Placidi, & PariniMaximizing your personal injury recovery.

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I would recommend them to anyone and have. 

John is a great attorney.  John and his staff promptly return calls and emails when you have questions and concerns not only when the process starts but all the way to completion.  John and his staff have been a godsend throughout. I would recommend them to anyone and have. 

- Virginia

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