People in Katy and the Greater Houston area often use Uber and other ride-sharing services to get around. After all, Katy is a sprawling area with many neighborhoods and activities, and not all of them are easily accessible via public transportation. Many residents and tourists see Uber as an ideal solution: it’s convenient, inexpensive, and fast.
As Uber becomes more popular, however, Uber accidents become more and more common. If you or a loved one is in a Katy Uber accident, don’t try to handle it alone. Insurance rules and regulations in Uber crashes are extremely complicated, and Uber will attempt to minimize its liability.
To ensure justice, you need an experienced Katy Uber accident lawyer like those of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law.
We are a national law firm based in Houston with multiple offices around the country. We also work with affiliate law firms in most states that share our focus and dedication to excellence. No matter where you are located, we may be able to help you, so call or contact us now. We are open, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now to submit your case for review. The first meeting to discuss your case is always free, so call today.
Uber Accidents Happen in Katy
Uber accidents can occur just as easily and often as accidents in other types of vehicles, and Texas already experiences car accident rates significantly above the national average.
In fact, a fatal Uber accident recently occurred off the Katy Freeway. In this particular instance, the driver died, but anyone could be hurt or killed in a Katy Uber accident—the driver, passengers, occupants of another vehicle, or even pedestrians.
Who Is Responsible For Injuries Suffered in a Katy Uber Accident?
Under Texas law, the party that caused an accident is responsible for injuries and deaths resulting from the accident. This system is known as “fault” insurance, and it stands in contrast to “no-fault,” in which injured individuals must first turn to their own insurance policies.
Make no mistake: in Texas, the party that caused an accident pays for injuries and other harm. This principle applies in Uber accidents just as much as in other car accidents, but because it’s an Uber, actually receiving damages and assessing fault becomes much more complicated.
If you’re in a regular, non-Uber accident with another car, there’s only one driver per car. You only need to find out what insurance carrier the driver uses, and if the driver is found to be at fault, you can approach the insurance company for payment of damages.
If a Uber driver bears responsibility for an accident, some elbow grease is required just to determine what stage of the ride the driver was in—because each stage of an Uber ride is covered by separate insurance policies.
Uber itself will only cover accidents in specific stages, and each stage has separate insurance coverage, as follows:
- If the driver has the Uber app on and is available or waiting for an app request, an Uber policy applies. The limit is $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage per accident. These cases may also involve the Uber driver’s personal auto accident policy.
- If the driver is on the way to pick up passengers or has the passenger in the vehicle already, Uber’s insurance also applies. The limit here is $1 million in third-party liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury, and contingent comprehensive and collision. This stage is somewhat complicated, as the coverage will apply only if the driver is responsible and is under- or uninsured.
- If the driver has the Uber app turned off (say they are on the way home or have not yet begun working), then only the driver’s personal car insurance coverage will apply.
Additional factors complicate this insurance coverage even more.
- First, Uber set up its insurance coverages to be secondary. In practical terms, that means injured people must first exhaust all other avenues to insurance compensation, such as the driver’s insurance policy.
- Second, Uber drivers are not employees of Uber. Uber drivers are independent contractors. Uber uses a contract system partly to save money: Uber doesn’t pay drivers benefits and doesn’t contribute to the purchase or maintenance of the cars. The cars are the driver’s responsibility. Uber maintains this distance for economic reasons, and you can bet that Uber will fight to deflect insurance responsibility in an accident as much as possible.
- Third, proving the stage the Uber driver was in might pose difficulties. Suppose the driver dropped a passenger off at a restaurant or nightclub, and then was immediately hailed by an exiting patron. Hopefully, the driver resets the app (and refuses a ride that doesn’t come through the app, because of potential insurance headaches). With the help of a lawyer, phone records can be obtained to confirm the context of your accident and the stage of the Uber ride.
An investigation into the accident and its causes may be necessary in order to clear up these complications. It’s something we see often in accidents involving commercial big rigs and their commercial insurance policies.
Something to remember: Just because it’s an Uber accident, that doesn’t automatically mean that the Uber driver is at fault. Fault in accidents may refer to the degree of negligence involved, and when it comes to negligence, there are numerous possibilities.
Negligence is a violation of the duty of care reasonably expected. Drivers, for example, owe a duty of care that consists of obeying all traffic laws, driving safely, and maintaining their vehicles in good repair. Failing to take any of these steps constitutes negligence. Negligent behavior results in liability, or financial responsibility for accidents. However, other drivers can also exhibit negligence. So can bicyclists and pedestrians if, for example, they dart in front of a car.
Car and component manufacturers can bear responsibility if defects in their products cause an accident. In such cases, the insurance company that covers the manufacturer will have to pay out the damages claims. Mechanics or repair shops that provided maintenance or repair services may be found negligent if they failed to fix the problems — or created new ones.
Additionally, government agencies can bear responsibility if their actions caused or contributed to an accident. Poor road repair (for example, unfixed potholes — a familiar experience for all Houstonians!) and confusing signage are just two examples of potential government agency negligence.
In some instances, Uber passengers may contribute to an accident if they create a driver distraction by acting disorderly. They may interfere with the driver’s ability to respond to traffic conditions or even hear approaching vehicles or other signs of danger, such as an approaching siren. In that instance, the passengers may also bear responsibility for the accident.
Why Do Ubers Have Accidents?
While Ubers can have accidents for the same reasons all cars do—poor judgment, disobeying traffic laws, maintenance, manufacturer issues, and so on—Ubers may be more prone to accidents for several reasons.
Excessive speed is one of the primary causes of car accidents, both nationwide and in Texas. Uber drivers may be more tempted to speed than the average driver. Why? Because the quicker they complete a trip, the faster they can get to the next one, and the more money they ultimately earn.
Additionally, some passengers may want to get somewhere quickly, such as to a movie or airport. Like all of us, Uber drivers want to earn repeat business, 5 star reviews, and good tips, so they may be pressured into speeding at their passenger’s behest.
Distracted driving is a prime source of car accidents nationwide, but many car drivers operate their vehicles in familiar territory. Uber drivers, on the other hand, may drive in unfamiliar places and need to frequently consult their phones and GPS devices, or scan for pick-up and drop-off locations.
Uber drivers may also work long shifts to increase their incomes. Unsurprisingly, exhaustion and drowsiness are also leading causes of Uber accidents. The more Uber drivers become fatigued or tired, the greater their chances of causing an accident. Fatigue causes a noticeable drop in reflexes, reaction time, and judgment—all accident-causing factors.
Furthermore, Uber drivers may have received only cursory training as commercial drivers. Unlike federally-regulated commercial semi truck drivers, there is no accepted set of training and credentialing requirements for Uber drivers. In fact, Texas has only recently mandated background checks for Uber drivers. As such, Uber drivers may simply not follow good driving practices.
Finally, Uber drivers are responsible for the condition of their own vehicles. This brings up a ton of safety issues. What if drivers are concerned about shelling out for adequate maintenance or repair? What if they don’t want to put their cars out of service for the required amount of time? Once again, no agency oversees the quality and condition of the vehicles, and Uber’s current employment scheme doesn’t incentivize drivers to keep their vehicles in top condition.
What Kind of Injuries Stem From Uber Accidents in Katy?
Uber accidents are car accidents. Many types of injuries can result from car accidents, depending on the site of impact, the intensity of the impact, and the speed of the respective cars.
Potential injuries include:
- Cuts, sprains, and bruises
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury (SCI)
- Amputations or loss of bodily organs
In some cases, such as sprains, injuries may result in fairly simple treatment and resolve quickly. In others, such as soft tissue injuries or burns, they may require months of treatment or become chronic. In catastrophic accidents, like those that result in TBIs or SCIs, patients may never fully recover from the effects and will need life-long care.
Damage Compensation for a Katy Uber Accident
The settlements injured individuals receive should be designed to compensate them monetarily for damage and losses of all kinds.
Victims can seek damage compensation in the following areas:
- Medical bills, present and future—for emergency treatment, doctor’s visits, diagnostic testing, surgery, hospitalization, prescription medication, rehab, and more
- Wages lost from work, if the accident causes victims to need time taken off work
- Lifetime value of earnings, if injured victims cannot work
- Personal property damage
- Pain and suffering for emotional, mental, and physical damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life
You can also bring an Uber accident suit in civil court, but usually, the insurance company is the first stop. Uber accident lawsuits are often used to put pressure on an insurance company to settle justly.
What to Do If a Katy Uber Accident Is Fatal
Tragically, people die in Uber accidents, either immediately or as a result of injuries sustained. If a decedent would have had grounds for a Uber accident suit had they lived, certain family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.
The family members entitled to bring a wrongful death suit are:
- Surviving spouses
- Children, including adopted children and adult children
- Parents, including adoptive parents
The categories of permitted damage compensation are:
- The decedent’s mental and emotional anguish, pain, and suffering
- The decedent’s lost earning capacity
- Lost inheritance, including what the decedent would likely have passed on to surviving loved ones after a normal life span
- Lost care, maintenance, services, support that the decedent once supplied to family members
- Lost love, companionship, and comfort
How Is Responsibility for an Uber Accident Determined?
Evidence will answer the question of who or what was responsible for an accident. All victims and their legal teams need to present evidence to receive compensation.
Many different forms of evidence are usable, including:
- The police report from the accident. Be sure to obtain a copy of this report, either at the scene or after.
- Pictures or videos showing the accident
- Eyewitness testimony
- Pictures or videos of the accident scene. The position of vehicles, the environment, signs (such as skid marks and property damage), and more can all contribute to an analysis of how the accident occurred.
- Doctor and other medical personnel’s reports of your injuries. The nature, position, and extent of a victim’s injuries can often contribute to an analysis of how the accident occurred.
- Forensic analysis reports. If other evidence isn’t available, lawyers can commission a forensic analysis. This involves looking at signs of impact on vehicles, the surrounding area (such as barriers, trees, and bushes), recreating the conditions at the time of day the accident happened, and more.
If you are not seriously injured or immediately taken away in an ambulance, you can help gather evidence by taking pictures of the accident scene and your injuries.
Make sure to have a full examination by a doctor as soon as possible, and keep all records related to your treatment.
If you’re searching for a car accident lawyer in Katy, Texas, look no further. Stewart J. Guss and his team have over 20 years of experience handling insurance accidents claims of all kinds. Whether you were in a car accident or a commercial slip and fall premises liability case, we’re here to help.
Contact an Uber Accident Attorney in Katy
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If you were injured in a Katy Uber accident, call our office right now for a free consultation! We can help investigate an accident, determine responsibility, and help maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries.
Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not owe us a dime unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us now by clicking here.
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