Over the past few years, Uber, Lyft and other similar ridesharing services have become popular methods of transportation for vacationers, business travelers and locals alike. Ridesharing companies, also known as “Transportation Network Companies” or “TNCs” under Texas law, are subject to rules and regulations regarding passenger safety. Still, legal questions abound related to legal recourse after a car accident or commission of a crime by TNC drivers. Incidents involving an Uber driver may raise a variety of questions relating to who is ultimately liable for the accident and the payment of damages. The specific facts of the case will dictate whether victims may pursue claims against the TNC, the driver, or both. If you have been injured in an accident or assaulted by a TNC driver, it is imperative to seek legal representation immediately. Our personal injury lawyers have experience handling complex cases in Fort Worth and other areas of Texas, including handling lawsuits against Uber. Contact us today to speak with a uber accident lawyer.
Generally speaking, drivers who fail to follow the established traffic laws or breach their duty to drive safely will be held liable for accidents resulting from their noncompliance. This holds true for everyone, including Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare drivers. Those who suffer injuries or property damage, as a result, are entitled to recover damages from the responsible party. In catastrophic cases, one may seek compensation for past and future lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. In a typical auto accident case, the injured party will look to the driver’s insurance company for compensation. Texas law requires TNC drivers to maintain certain levels of insurance. When a driver is on duty but not yet carrying a passenger, the regulations mandate coverage at slightly higher levels than the state’s minimum requirements for other drivers. The policy must, at a minimum, cover $50,000 per person injured and $25,000 to cover property damage, capped at $100,000 per incident. When the driver has a passenger, the TNC must carry a $1 million policy on the driver’s behalf.
A potentially complicating factor when an Uber is involved is whether the victim will recover from the driver’s insurance policy or the commercial insurance policy held by the company itself. The outcome will likely depend on the specific circumstances of the accident, including whether:
For example, if the victim is a passenger in the Uber and the Uber driver is at fault for the accident, the victim will likely recover under Uber’s $1 million insurance policy. If, on the other hand, the driver of another car is at fault, the injured passenger will pursue a claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance. Uber and other TNCs typically carry $1 million in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage for situations where a third party’s insurance is insufficient to cover the damages incurred by their passengers. A non-passenger, such as the driver of another vehicle or pedestrian, who is injured by a TNC driver may recover against the company’s $1 million policy if the driver is carrying a passenger at the time. If the driver is on duty but not yet carrying a passenger, the recovery will likely be against the required minimum TNC insurance. The company’s insurance will generally not cover accidents caused by its drivers when they are off duty and operating their vehicles for personal use.
Immediately following an accident involving a rideshare driver, the victim or their family should retain an experienced Uber accident lawyer. Our attorneys have been representing victims of serious accidents in Fort Worth, Texas since 1982. Once retained, we will immediately contact the rideshare company and request copies of all relevant documents about the driver, including their driving record, hiring date, background screening, etc. We will aggressively pursue any potential claims against the company itself to help maximize your recovery. We will also work directly with the TNC’s insurance company and the driver’s insurance company to coordinate all settlement discussions. It is important to remember that the insurance adjusters do not represent the victim and will attempt to minimize their payouts. Experienced counsel can manage these conversations and review all settlement offers. Our firm will conduct an independent investigation of the accident and preserve all evidence necessary in preparation for settlement negotiations and, if necessary, for litigation. This may include retaining expert witnesses to provide opinions regarding your medical prognosis, lost potential earnings, and liability of the driver or Uber. If we are unable to reach a satisfactory settlement on your behalf, we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit against all appropriate parties and see the case through the trial process.
Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to sue Uber, Lyft, or other TNCs directly. In typical cases involving a commercial driver, for example, the company employing the driver may be held liable for the negligence of its employee. If the employer was negligent in hiring the driver or failed to adequately supervise or train them, for instance, the victim may make a claim against the employer in addition to the driver. Ridesharing drivers, however, are generally considered independent contractors rather than employees under Texas law. This may make it more difficult to pursue legal claims against TNCs directly. However, if the company failed to comply with applicable laws regarding driver screening or passenger safety, suing the company directly may be possible.
In Texas and elsewhere in the country, laws, and regulations require rideshare companies to screen their drivers in advance for criminal offenses. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which governs TNCs operating in the state, requires companies to perform criminal background checks annually for their drivers. Texas prohibits TNCs from hiring drivers with convictions of certain crimes, including DUIs, terrorism, felonies related to violence, and sex offenders. Despite these efforts to protect passenger safety, there have been numerous reports of passengers being physically and sexually assaulted by their drivers. If you are the victim of a crime committed by a rideshare driver, contact law enforcement immediately to report the incident. As soon as possible, contact a lawyer to evaluate whether you may have a claim against the rideshare company for failing to meet its passenger safety legal requirements.
Noteboom – The Law Firm was founded in 1982. Our firm only handles matters involving serious or catastrophic injuries. We have the experience and resources necessary to represent our clients throughout the entire legal process. Chuck Noteboom and Brian Butcher are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Their specialized knowledge is an asset to every case our firm handles. Our firm has the financial ability to engage expert witnesses and incur significant up-front fees on your behalf. Our attorneys are not intimidated by suing large corporations and aggressively pursue our clients’ legal rights. We represent clients in Fort Worth and elsewhere in Texas. Contact us today to speak with an Uber accident lawyer.