Am I Covered if an Uber Driver Causes an Accident in Des Moines?

Ride-share services are quickly gaining popularity in the United States, replacing the traditional taxi as the primary way of traveling. A burgeoning ride-share company in the U.S. is Uber, which exists in 55 countries throughout the world. While Uber is a fantastic way to get a ride home, Uber’s services are still relatively new, and how the car insurance works in the event an Uber driver causes an accident can be confusing. The following considers insurance coverage after ride-share accidents happen and passengers are injured, as well as new ordinances the city of Des Moines is attempting to pass regarding the ride-share service company.

Who is responsible for ride-share liability in the event of an accident? 

Both Uber and Lyft (another major ride-share service in the U.S.) require that their drivers carry car insurance (which is also a requirement under Iowa state laws). In addition to the car insurance that Uber drivers carry themselves, Uber also supplements cars with additional coverage. However, there are a number of kinks in the private insurance system that Uber drivers carry. Some private insurance companies will not cover an accident that occurs when the car is being used for hire, making insurance useless in the event of an accident.

The supplemental insurance Uber provides, according to the company, is for uberX vehicles. The commercial insurance policy provides $1 million worth of coverage per accident that covers ride-share drivers’ liability. In the event that another vehicle (not an Uber vehicle) is to blame for the accident, there is also an uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage policy of $1 million per incident for bodily injury.

Can I sue Uber for a car accident?

In addition to knowing exactly which insurance is going to pay for injuries in the event of an accident, there is also legal confusion over whether or not Uber can be sued if an Uber driver causes an accident. Uber claims that all of their drivers are independent contractors; therefore, Uber is not responsible for their drivers’ actions. However, because Uber does participate in the hiring process, some argue that the company should be held liable. In the event that the company cannot be sued, the individual driver who caused the accident may face legal liability if the driver acted negligently, violating his or her duty to passengers, causing an accident, and causing injuries to those within the vehicle.

City of Des Moines Considers Ordinance Regarding Uber

The city of Des Moines is currently considering whether or not Uber, as well as other taxi and limo companies, must release the names of all of their drivers prior to beginning operations on a local level. The city also has a number of questions regarding Uber’s insurance policy, including whether or not Uber would be open to sharing a detailed report of its insurance claims since starting business in Des Moines, as reported by The Des Moines Register. The legislation would require Uber to submit an annual report detailing the number of vehicles in operation, complaints received and service locations. A preliminary reading of the new ordinances was approved on February 23, 2015.

I’ve been in an accident involving an Uber vehicle – what now?

The best course of action following an accident in which injuries were sustained while acting as an Uber passenger is to seek legal counsel. As stated above, the laws regarding which insurance company will pay for the injuries, as well as options for civil action, are still unclear -- an attorney can provide you with clarification. At Walker, Billingsley & Bair, our car accident attorneys are ready to get to work today on making sure that you’re compensated for your injuries. To learn more about our background and services, call us today at 888-435-9886. 

Corey Walker
With over 20 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.