Uber accidents are in the news frequently these days, from pedestrian deaths and cyclist accidents to car crashes. In fact, there have been concerns in the news that fatal car accidents are on the rise due to ride-sharing companies like Uber. But, whether or not you can sue a for-hire company such when their driver is involved in a Bronx car crash is a tricky subject. Uber and other ride-hailing companies are relatively new and so the laws regarding them are new and changing.
Rideshare Laws in New York
Ridesharing companies, known as transportation network companies or TNCs in New York State, include any person or business that uses a digital network, such as a cell phone app, to connect passengers to drivers for prearranged trips. These include such businesses as Uber and Lyft.
New York City has its own rules for rideshare drivers that essentially makes Uber drivers into taxi drivers for regulation purposes. In order to operate as a for-hire driver, drivers must meet NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) regulations:
- TLC-issued commercial license
- TLC-licensed and eligible vehicle
- Vehicle affiliated with a TLC licensed for-hire base, such as Uber or Lyft
Which Auto Insurance Policy Covers an Uber Accident?
In New York City, Uber drivers are required to carry their own commercial insurance policies for their vehicles. Because of this, accidents that occur on rides that originate within the Bronx or remainder of NYC are covered by these policies. However, in New York state, ridesharing companies are required to carry group insurance coverage for drivers that acts as the primary insurance. So if a ride originates outside of city limits, Uber’s insurance policy kicks in first, even if the destination or site of the accident is the Bronx.
Since New York follows a no-fault insurance system for auto accidents , Uber or its driver’s insurance policy must provide compensation for other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or killed, up to the policy limits. Because of this, it is important to know which insurance policy is primary at the time of the accident. However, many accidents result in serious injuries or death with damages that exceed insurance payouts. In these qualifying cases, you can begin a personal injury lawsuit, but knowing who to sue is also a complex issue.
Independent Contractors or Employees?
Uber and Lyft claim that their drivers are independent contractors. Unlike with employees, companies are usually not directly liable for injuries caused by negligent independent contractors. So if the drivers are contractors, Uber or Lyft would not be liable for auto accidents these drivers cause. However, a recent ruling by the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board of New York State found that Uber exercised sufficient control over three drivers to create an employee-employer relationship in regard to payment of unemployment benefits. If courts continue to find that Uber has an employer-employee relationship with drivers, then this could open the door for personal injury lawsuits directly against Uber and not just their negligent drivers.
A Knowledgeable Auto Injury Lawyer Helps You Understand Your Rights
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an auto accident caused by an Uber driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the complex recovery process. Call The Law Offices of Evan W. Kohn at 718-409-5500 or contact us online today for a free initial consultation. Se habla español.