When you earn your living by driving, you’re at a greater risk of crossing paths with a dangerous driver. If you’ve been injured in an accident while driving for Uber in NJ, you may be entitled to compensation—but first, you need to understand your legal rights.
When an Uber driver gets injured in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else’s negligence, they deserve compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. However, sorting out insurance coverage and liability in an Uber driver accident is complicated.
To navigate this complex situation and make sure you get the full amount of money you deserve, you’re going to need professional legal representation provided by an experienced Uber accident attorney in NJ.
NJ Uber driver accidents happen, but that doesn’t mean Uber drivers are the ones to blame.
Dangerous behavior behind the wheel was involved in half of these deadly crashes, Uber reported, but 94% of the time, it was another driver’s risky actions that caused the collision. In the case of the most common risky driving behavior, speeding, 91% of the perpetrators were third-party (non-Uber) drivers. So were 100% of the alcohol-impaired drivers and 100% of the motorists who were driving the wrong way in a fatal car accident involving an Uber vehicle.
“While there was a marked increase in risky driving by third parties, these trends were not evident among drivers using the Uber app,” the company reported.
Accidents involving NJ Uber drivers are often blamed on the rideshare drivers. Unlike other commercial drivers, rideshare drivers don’t have a formal commercial license or intensive driving training. However, as the statistics above illustrate, the most serious Uber accidents usually aren’t caused by the rideshare driver.
There are plenty of causes of an Uber driver accident for which the rideshare driver is not at fault.
Most often, the other driver, not the Uber driver, was the one who has been dangerously negligent.
As a rideshare driver, even if you’re doing everything right, you can’t always avoid other motorists on the road who are speeding, tailgating, driving while distracted or under the influence, or otherwise operating their vehicles negligently.
If you have been driving for rideshare companies long enough, you probably have your own horror stories of difficult or unruly passengers. While these passengers are usually just annoying, their behavior can cross the line into downright dangerous territory.
In general, passengers are rarely at fault for a car accident. They have no obligation to watch the road and no responsibility for being in control of the vehicle. However, a rowdy or belligerent passenger could cause or contribute to a crash in certain situations.
The worst Uber passenger behaviors—the ones that can actually cause or contribute to a collision—include:
These situations are, unfortunately, more likely in the case of rideshare vehicles compared to the average private car. The passenger typically doesn’t know the driver and may feel entitled to act in any way they like—even dangerously—because they are paying for a service. Rideshare passengers may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Passengers commonly sit in the front seat of an Uber vehicle rather than the backseat, as is customary in taxicabs and chauffeur services. In this closer proximity to the driver and vehicle controls, disorderly passenger behavior can pose a greater safety hazard.
A malfunction of your vehicle or its parts could cause an accident.
Uber drivers should maintain their vehicles in a safe condition, but performing routine maintenance may not be enough to prevent accidents that result from defective parts. Recalls are common in the auto industry, arising out of defects in brakes, tires, airbags, engines, ignition devices, sensors, and other parts.
If a defect has not yet come to light or no solution is yet available for vehicles included in the recall, there may be little even a very good driver can do to prevent an accident or injury that results from the defective part’s malfunction.
If the road itself is hazardous in some unexpected or unreasonable way, road conditions could be to blame for a New Jersey Uber accident—and the municipal or other government agency responsible for maintaining the road could be liable.
Know your legal options.
Depending on the unique facts of your situation, there may be multiple defendants and insurance policies involved in your claim.
First of all, you should know that NJ is a no-fault state. In a typical auto accident, each motorist’s own auto insurance policy pays for their medical expenses through personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage, regardless of who is at fault. Different coverage applies to other damages, such as property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In an accident involving a rideshare vehicle, however, the situation is different.
Under N.J. Stat. § 39:5H-10, “primary personal injury protection benefits” must be offered that apply “whenever a transportation network company driver is logged on to the transportation network company’s digital network and is available to receive a prearranged ride request, but is not providing a prearranged ride.”
However, the statute states that this coverage may be maintained by “the transportation network company driver, transportation network company, or any combination of the two.” For injured Uber drivers in NJ, this statute may only raise more questions. Whose insurance policy do you have to go through to get benefits?
The simplest path would be to go through the PIP coverage provided by your own auto insurance policy, but that’s usually not an option for Uber drivers injured while working. Often, a personal auto insurance policy excludes coverage of a vehicle for business use. You would still be eligible for coverage through your personal auto insurance policy when you’re offline or have the Driver app off—but typically not when you’re actively using the app, regardless of whether or not you are en route to pick up or drop off passengers.
If your personal auto insurance policy does not apply, you could be eligible for coverage under Uber’s auto insurance.
If your status at the time of the accident is considered “available or waiting for a ride request,” you would generally be eligible for coverage in the following amounts:
When your injuries are severe, this bodily injury coverage may not stretch very far. Car accident victims who suffer from serious head injuries or spine injuries, spend an extended time in the hospital or in inpatient rehabilitation facilities, or require invasive surgeries can easily incur medical bills that exceed this coverage amount.
The amount of insurance coverage available through Uber is higher once a driver is en route to pick up passengers and throughout the time the passenger is in the vehicle. During this time, Uber’s insurance coverage amounts to $1,000,000 in third-party liability coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) bodily injury or first-party injury insurance (or both) may also apply, depending on the circumstances.
When the other driver is the one at fault, it’s their insurance coverage through which you would seek compensation for damages like lost wages and pain and suffering. How much money you’re entitled to will depend on the extent of your damages and the at-fault driver’s coverage limits. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, you would need to go through any UM or UIM coverage that may apply to your accident.
Fault in an auto accident isn’t always clear-cut in the immediate aftermath of the crash. In NJ, you can sue another driver for injuries you sustain in a car accident even if you are partially at fault. To be permitted to move forward with a claim, the percentage of fault attributed to you must be lower than that assigned to the other driver.
Your payout will be reduced by the percentage by which you are determined to be at fault. If the amount of fault assigned to each motorist is under debate, you should have an attorney investigate your case and, if appropriate, represent you to ensure that the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t assign to you an unfairly high percentage of fault for the accident.
Suppose that someone else, other than another motorist, is partially to blame for the crash. You may have the grounds to sue the manufacturer of defective auto parts or a government agency that was negligent in maintaining the roadway in a safe condition.
The many variables involved make sorting out insurance coverage and possible defendants difficult—and the stakes are high. If you fail to name all relevant defendants in your claim, you could wind up missing out on the money you deserve.
You need an experienced NJ Uber driver accident lawyer to go through the unique facts of your situation, investigate the accident and all potential sources of coverage, and move your case forward in accordance with the legal process.
We are here to help.
Both in the immediate aftermath of an accident and over the course of the claims process, the steps you take as an injured Uber driver matter.
The number-one step to take following any auto accident is to prevent further harm to yourself and others involved in the collision. Make every effort you can to get to a safe place to avoid further danger. If possible, offer assistance to others who may be injured or in danger, or ask for help from witnesses and bystanders.
Call 911 to report the accident to the police and request the assistance of emergency medical personnel. Allow your injuries to be checked out by the EMTs or paramedics.
If appropriate, accept an ambulance ride to the hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Otherwise, seek medical care as soon as possible, whether at the hospital, at an urgent care facility, or at your regular doctor’s office. (Be aware, though, that not all offices treat car accident injuries due to the complexities of medical billing when auto insurance coverage is involved.)
Under Uber’s policies, drivers for the rideshare company are expected to promptly notify Uber through the Driver app or by calling Uber Support.
To preserve your legal rights, you will need to notify the relevant insurance companies of the accident promptly. However, these insurance companies (even your own) aren’t on your side. It’s generally in a claimant’s best interests to keep these initial communications with the insurance companies as brief and to the point as possible—or, better yet, allow an experienced attorney to handle this responsibility for you.
The insurance companies have attorneys and teams of legal support staff on their side.
To get the full amount of compensation you deserve, you’re going to need experienced, professional legal representation, too.
Your attorney will start working on your claim by conducting a thorough investigation and gathering evidence to prove fault for the accident, eligibility for coverage from the proper insurance policies, and the extent of your damages. The full extent of your damages may not be clear until after you have finished treatment or made the most complete medical recovery possible.
During the claims process, your attorney will typically attempt to settle your case out of court, which can help you recover money damages faster and with less in the way of legal expenses. Depending on the situation, your claim may include a formal demand letter, filing litigation (a lawsuit), and undertaking a “discovery” period that includes written interrogatories and legal proceedings called depositions. Settlement negotiations alone may be enough to resolve your claim, or you might need to go to mediation, arbitration, or trial.
Just as no two cases are identical in terms of fault, damages, and insurance coverage available, the process of resolving your case will be unique to your situation. You can count on the NJ Uber driver accident attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. to help you understand what to expect, answer your questions, and guide you through every step of the legal process.
Help for a New Jersey Uber driver accident claim doesn’t have to add to the financial burden you’re facing. At the law firm of Console & Associates, P.C., our attorneys represent every client on a no-win, no-fee basis.
We have practiced personal injury law for decades and followed each new development in NJ law and the policies of major rideshare companies. We’re prepared to help injured New Jersey Uber drivers navigate cases that involve complex liability and insurance coverage status.