Using Uber, Charleston residents can order a private commercial ride directly from their smart phones. The application is extremely popular, and many consumers find it to be a very convenient option. The company reports that they now have over 175,000 drivers on the road around the country, including thousands within South Carolina. Unfortunately, with that many rides being given, some accidents, including some very serious accidents, are inevitable. There are many unique legal issues involved in Uber accidents. If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber, you need to be represented by an experienced Charleston car accident attorney who understands how to protect your rights.
Understanding Uber’s Insurance Policy
The primary issue that makes Uber accidents unique, and legally complex, is the confusing patchwork of interconnected insurance policies. Whether you were injured as a passenger of an Uber, while in another vehicle, or as a pedestrian, it can be difficult to know how to bring your accident claim. Ultimately, Uber drivers are simply using their own vehicles, so determining which insurance policy is active at any given moment can be challenging. In general, Uber accidents will fit into one of three scenarios:
- The Uber driver was ‘off’ the clock: If you were in another vehicle, or were walking as a pedestrian, and you were injured in an accident with an Uber driver, this scenario might apply to you. In that case, even though the driver uses their car for Uber, their vehicle is not considered a ‘commercial vehicle’ in that specific moment. Since their Uber driving application is not activated, they will not have any passengers and Uber’s insurance policies will not be active. Any accident damages will need to be recovered from the individual driver’s personal insurance coverage.
- The Uber driver was ‘on’ the clock, with passengers in the vehicle: If you are injured as a passenger while riding in an Uber, or by an Uber driver while they had passengers in their vehicle, then Uber’s official commericial vehicle insurance policy will bear the driver’s liability. In this situation, the Uber is clearly a commercial vehicle.
- The Uber driver was ‘on’ the clock, without passengers: This is the most confusing scenario. Uber drivers often have a lot of downtime in between picking up passengers. During this time, they will likely still be on the road. However, they are not technically working for Uber. Therefore, Uber’s commercial insurance policy will not apply, but instead a contingent insurance policy will likely apply.
Ultimately, if you were injured in a Charleston Uber accident, you should speak to an experienced car accident attorney. Ridesharing in a newly developed part of South Carolina law, and insurance coverage and liability issues are still getting sorted out. You need an attorney who understands how to protect victims of Uber accidents.
South Carolina Car Accident Injuries: Negligence
Liability for South Carolina Uber accident injuries, like all other car accident injuries, is still ultimately an issue of negligence. Put simply, negligence is the failure by one party to take proper care when performing an action. In order to hold the defendant liable for an Uber accident, the plaintiff must prove each of the four elements of negligence:
- Duty: First, you must establish the precise nature of the standard of care owed by the defendant.
- Breach: Second, you must prove that the defendant deviated from the standard of care.
- Causation: Then, you must be able to connect that defendant’s breach of the duty of care to your injuries.
- Damages: Finally, you must be able to prove the full extent of the damages that you sustained.
For example, imagine that you were the passenger in the backseat of an Uber. Unfortunately, your Uber driver is distracted and runs a red light. The Uber collides with another vehicle and as a result of the accident, you sustain a broken leg. In that scenario, you would be able prove that the Uber driver was negligent and recover compensation. The driver had a duty to follow all Charleston traffic regulations, and running a red light was a breach of that duty of care. The breach – running the light – led to the collision which caused your injuries. Finally, you could assemble the evidence to prove how much damage the broken leg caused you. You could recover for everything from hospital bills and physical therapy costs to lost wages and pain and suffering.
South Carolina Is a Comparative Fault State
It is important to note that South Carolina uses the comparative fault standard for accident liability. Essentially, comparative fault recognizes that two different parties might share blame for an accident because they were both, to some extent, negligent. This consideration could be very important if you were in an accident with an Uber while driving another vehicle. If you are deemed to be partially at fault for the accident, then you will be partially liable for your own injuries. Your recovery will be reduced by the percentage of your accident blame. Further, in South Carolina, there is a 51 percent bar on accident recovery. This means that if you are found to be at fault for the majority of an accident, or 51 percent or more, you cannot recover any damages for that accident.
Comparative Fault: Apportioning Liability
Assume that you were involved in an accident with an Charleston Uber driver. As a result of this accident, you sustained $20,000 of damages. However, there is a dispute over who is at fault for this accident. It is critical that you are not unfairly blamed, because your accident recovery will be severely reduced, or possibly even eliminated. For example, if, after review of the crash, you are found to be at fault for zero percent of the accident with the Uber, then you would be entitled to a full $20,000 recovery. However, if you are deemed to be at fault for 25 percent of the accident, then your recovery would also be reduced by 25 percent. In that scenario, you would only be entitled to $15,000, losing out on $5,000. Finally, if you are found to be to blame for 60 percent of the accident, you are barred from recovery in South Carolina. You would be entitled to $0. If fault is disputed, you need an attorney. Even a few percentage points of misplaced blame could take thousands of dollars out of your pocket.
Contact Our Office Today
The regulations surrounding ridesharing applications is developing quickly in South Carolina. Uber accident injuries are especially complex. It is critical that you have an aggressive car accident attorney by your side. If you have been injured in an Uber accident, or if you have questions about South Carolina car accidents in general, please contact our office today to schedule a free review of your case. The attorneys of David Aylor Law Offices work hard to serve injured victims throughout the Charleston area, including in Myrtle Beach and Walterboro.