In 2016, actor Miles Teller was involved in a multi-vehicle car accident in Studio City. At least one of those other vehicles was being operated as an Uber at the time of the crash. Nearly two years later, a passenger who was injured in the accident has filed a personal injury lawsuit. She is seeking more than $25,000 in damages from Teller, Uber, and another unspecified party.
Los Angeles Car Accidents Involving Ridesharing Vehicles
There are hundreds of car accidents in Los Angeles every day. Many of these collisions involve vehicles that are being driven for popular ridesharing services, including Uber and Lyft. When these cars are involved in an accident, victims have the right to seek compensation from:
the Uber driver
other negligent third parties; and/or
relevant insurance policies.
Uber Driver’s Insurance Carrier: All drivers in California must purchase and maintain a valid car insurance policy. This includes anyone who uses their vehicle to drive for a ridesharing company. When you’re injured in an Uber accident, you may be able to recover compensation from a negligent Uber driver’s insurance company. However, most insurance companies refuse to cover accidents that occur while a driver is engaged in commercial activity – such as driving for Uber. Unless the driver has purchased a special commercial policy or wasn’t engaged in commercial activity at the time oft he accident, you may be out of luck.
Uber Driver: Has the Uber driver’s insurance company refused to approve your claim because the driver was engaged in commercial activity at the time of the accident? You always have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. If you can prove that the driver was negligent in some way, you may be able to recover compensation directly from them.
Uber Insurance Carrier: Uber is required to carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage for all active trips. Coverage kicks in when a driver is logged into the app and accepts a ride request. Coverage terminates when the passenger exits the vehicle and the ride is terminated in the app. This insurance policy can be used to compensate victims – including vehicle passengers – who are injured in an accident, regardless of the driver’s fault.
Uber: Uber is doing everything it can to limit its own liability for accidents involving its drivers. The company regularly attempts to classify drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. This can sever the vicarious liability that’s typically extended to employers. It’s also asked the state to not classify the service as a common carrier, which comes with an increased responsibility to passengers. However, it’s Uber’s status remains unclear. As a result, lawsuits filed directly against the company may be successful.
Third Parties: Anyone involved in an accident can potentially be sued for damages. Miles Teller, for example, is being sued by one of the Uber passengers who was injured in the crash. Teller maintains that the Uber cut him off and that the accident was “unavoidable” as a result. However, if there’s any indicator that his own negligence contributed to the accident, he can be held partially responsible for the victim’s damages.
What Happens If Insurance Doesn’t Pay Enough?
Insurance policies are typically the first source of compensation after an accident. However, insurance payouts will be capped at a driver’s policy limits. In other words, an insurer will only pay as much as a driver’s policy covers. So, if a driver has only purchased $15,000 in bodily injury liability, their insurance company will pay a maximum of $15,000.
Just because an insurer caps payouts doesn’t mean that an accident victim can’t recover money elsewhere. In many cases, victims decide to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages that exceed what they were able to recover from an insurance company. The lawsuit is a tool that allows the victim to hold the driver or other at-fault party personally responsible for the harm they’ve caused. The fact that they’ve already recovered money from an insurance company or another third party cannot be used to prevent or reduce recovery in that lawsuit.
Have you or someone you love been injured in a Los Angeles car accident? You need to fully understand your legal rights and options. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation. We’ll help you fight for the money you deserve.