Uber ridesharing has revolutionized ground transportation in New York City (and every other city where they’re available.) You just use an app to request a ride with someone without the hassle and expense of a cab, and the driver makes extra money (or a living) giving you a ride somewhere. Simple, right?
If you’re a passenger, you’re at the mercy of someone who may or may not be a skilled driver. And, no matter who you ride with, there’s always the chance of a car crash no matter how good the driver actually is.
If you’re an Uber driver, car accidents are an occupational hazard, particularly in New York City. It’s not a matter of if you’ll have a car accident while Uber driving, but WHEN.
Car accidents are a little different when it’s an Uber rideshare.
Like a lot of freelance jobs, an Uber driver is an independent contractor, not an employee like a cab driver. Most Uber drivers don’t have a CDL (commercial driver’s license, the type cab, limo and truck drivers have.) The rules for employees having car crashes on the job don’t apply here. Uber is a business and will, like any other company, try not to make any kind of payments.
There are three phases of the Uber driver’s time:
· When the driver is on his or own time and not driving. Any damages or accident payments are paid through the driver’s personal insurance company.
· When the driver is available, is notified of a ride, and heading out to pick up a passenger.
· When the driver is transporting a passenger to his or her destination. Once he or she has delivered the passenger, they are again “off the clock” (available) until another ride request is issued.
Uber’s drivers are required to have their own personal insurance, and many drivers have a separate rideshare policy. Uber also has its own $1m company policy through James River Insurance, which covers accidents while a driver is working and transporting a passenger in their vehicle. Should the driver be headed to pick up a passenger and is marked “available” in the app at the time of the accident, the driver’s own insurance is responsible, and Uber’s policy picks up part of it. However, if the driver is on his or her own time, the driver’s personal insurance covers the accident.
CRASH! Now What?
Like any car accident, you must keep your wits about you.
· If there are any injuries or fatalities, call 911 (or the New York City Police Department) immediately.
o New York requires that you stay at the scene of an accident, so do not leave. If you do leave, you can be charged with hit-and-run.
· Cooperate with the police but speak carefully. Anything you say can be used against you later. Even innocuous statements like “I’m sorry” can be considered an admitted fault, so be cautious about what you say to anyone. The police will work to determine who, if anyone, was at fault.
· Document your trip: keep screenshots of your Uber ride, whether you’re a passenger or driver. This will help establish that you were on a trip during the accident.
· Take pictures of the accident scene. Make sure you have the name of your Uber driver as well (preferably within one of the screenshots. Obtain contact information (phone number, email, etc.) from the other party (or parties), any available eyewitnesses, as well as license and insurance information from other parties.
o Make note of the weather conditions at the time of the crash. Screenshots of your favorite weather app may be helpful.
o When available, make sure you get copies of the police report.
· Seek medical attention for your injuries. Keep copies of bills and medical reports.
· If there were no injuries in this accident, and the other driver isn’t around (i.e., you hit a parked car), you can leave a note for the owner on the vehicle with your contact and insurance information. Then contact the New York City Police Department.
· Seek legal assistance from a personal injury attorney before agreeing to or signing any waivers or settlement offers.
Uber has a process for handling accidents involving their contract drivers, and you may be contacted to give a statement. (Uber’s website lists instructions for their drivers here.)
Your Consultation Is Free
If you’ve been in a ridesharing accident and aren’t sure what to do, call us at (212) 777-9400. We’re a family-owned personal injury law firm in New York City with more than 26-year experience helping people just like you after a car accident. Our contingency fee arrangement means we won’t get paid until you do, whether we settle your case in or out of court.