Taxi cabs have long been a common mode of transportation throughout Phoenix. In recent years, however, rideshare companies like Uber have also become just as common, and are now carefully regulated under state law. Unfortunately, the drivers of both types of services often cause severe vehicle accidents, and holding the drivers and their owners accountable for their negligent actions can be difficult without experienced legal counsel by your side.
While you have legal options following a collision with a taxi or Uber driver, your legal options will vary depending on the circumstances of your case. Talk to an attorney to understand the difference between Uber, Taxi companies/common carriers, and other rideshare companies in Phoenix. Skilled legal counsel could help you pursue an accident claim against these companies’ liability policies and allow you to obtain the compensation you deserve.
One of the most important aspects of an accident caused by an Uber driver is that this kind of rideshare driver is considered an independent contractor, and the theory of respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors. This means that it may be difficult to sue Uber for the mistakes of an individual driver.
The state legislature has taken steps to strengthen the ability of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber to assert that their drivers are independent contractors. According to Arizona Statutes Section 23-1601, courts will presume a worker is an independent contractor when they sign a waiver certifying that they are working as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. Fortunately, there are other options available for pursuing a lawsuit following an accident with a negligent Uber driver.
While a direct lawsuit against Uber might not be an option, a person injured in a collision with an Uber operator may still have the ability to file a claim against the company’s liability policy, as state law requires TNCs to take a degree of financial responsibility for their drivers.
Arizona Statute Section 28-4038 sets out the mandatory insurance requirements for Uber and other TNCs. The level of coverage Uber must maintain on behalf of their driver varies based on the circumstances. The maximum amount of liability coverage depends on which phase of a ride the driver is in. The three phases involve a driver that is not actively seeking passengers, a driver without a passenger that is seeking one, and a driver that is actively transporting a passenger.
When an Uber driver is not transporting a passenger or actively seeking one, they are not covered by company insurance at all. Instead, they must rely on their own coverage. If a driver is using the Uber app to seek rides but has not yet picked up a passenger, Uber provides $25,000 in liability coverage per injured rider as well as $50,000 in injury coverage per accident. Their policy also covers $20,000 in property damage.
The coverage provided when a driver is carrying a passenger is much higher. In this situation, the maximum coverage is $1 million. This policy includes more than just liability coverage, but provides uninsured motorist coverage and bodily injury compensation for the Uber passenger.
In many ways, injury claims involving negligent taxi drivers follow the same pattern as other accident claims involving rideshare companies. The important difference is that it could be possible to pursue legal action against not only the taxi driver but their employer as well.
Under the law, it can be possible to pursue legal action against an employer for the negligence of their employees through the legal theory of respondeat superior. Under this theory, an employer could face liability for their employee’s negligence if it occurred during the course of that employee’s normal course of business. For example, a taxi driver actively operating their vehicle during the course of their employment could qualify, but a taxi driver taking their personal vehicle on an errand after work would not.
In addition to the possibility of an injury lawsuit, it could also be possible to pursue an insurance claim on the taxi company’s liability policy. The state requires taxi companies to provide their drivers with minimum levels of liability insurance coverage. Often, the insurance company will agree to resolve a claim without the need for a lawsuit. One of our skilled attorneys in Phoenix could not only pursue legal action but also negotiate a settlement with the taxi company’s insurance carrier.
Identifying the responsible party for a motor vehicle accident can be complicated under the best circumstances. When one of the drivers involved in an accident is operating as an Uber driver, this calculation can be even more complex.
Thankfully, an experienced Phoenix attorney could help you navigate the complex set of laws relevant to your case and determine your best course of action after a rideshare crash. Call today to set up a consultation and learn more.