Pittsburgh Uber Accident Attorneys
Chaffin Luhana supports Pittsburgh, PA residents with experienced and dedicated Uber accident attorneys. We address local ride-sharing laws, who pays for an Uber accident, what to do following a collision, and reasons why you may consider filing a lawsuit.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and Rice University reported in October 2018 that the rise of ride-sharing services like Uber has increased deaths by 2-3 percent in the U.S. since 2011. The increase was not only for vehicle occupants, but also for pedestrians, and appeared to persist or even increase over time.
According to Uber’s most recent safety report, there were 107 total fatalities in 2017 and 2018 across 97 fatal crashes reported. About 21 percent of the fatalities were drivers using the Uber platform, while 21 percent were riders, and the rest were third parties.
The report did not mention non-fatal accidents or accidents that resulted in injuries. Nor did it provide information about accidents that occurred when drivers were driving without passengers between rides.
If you have been involved in an accident involving an Uber, it is always best to contact a qualified Pittsburgh car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options. When you speak with a Pittsburgh Uber accident lawyer at Chaffin Luhana, the consultation costs nothing and puts you under no obligation whatsoever.
Give our experienced Pittsburgh car accident attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.
Common Causes of Uber Accidents in Pittsburgh
Common causes of Uber accidents include the following.
Distracted driving is a problem affecting almost all drivers, but Uber drivers may be particularly susceptible to distraction. They have to manage the Uber app as part of their jobs, and must also look up and type in information on their phones to get directions. If they do these things while driving, that increases the risk of an accident.
The more trips they make per day, the more money uber drivers earn. That means they’re interested in transporting passengers quickly so they can fit in as many rides as possible.
Uber drivers typically work long hours without a break. That makes it more likely that they will become fatigued while driving. Fatigue can reduce attention and alertness, and make an accident more likely.
Unlike other commercial driving services, Uber does not provide any special training for its drivers before allowing them to transport passengers. That means that there may be an inexperienced or unqualified driver behind the wheel. Such a person would not have the skills needed to properly respond to dangerous traffic conditions.
Uber drivers must scan to find their passengers. Particularly if they are not familiar with the area, they may need to look around to find the right street where their passenger is waiting. This can cause unpredictable driving, including unexpected stops, sudden turns, or slow driving.
Again, because they’re trying to fit in a lot of rides per day, Uber drivers may choose to drive aggressively. They may speed, tailgate, avoid traffic signals, or make abrupt lane changes—all of which can increase the risk of an accident.
Poorly Maintained Vehicle
Uber does have a set of car requirements that must be met before a driver is cleared to drive. Depending on the state the driver is in, Uber may also require a vehicle inspection. The process typically consists of a form that must be signed off by a pre-approved repair shop or inspection center.
Once this initial process is complete, it’s up to the driver to maintain their vehicle properly. Failing to do so can increase the risk of an accident. Common issues include worn brakes, tire blowouts, missing signal lights, and faulty seatbelts or airbags.
Driving Under the Influence
Just like any driver, an Uber driver may choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This affects reaction time, thinking, and decision-making, and can increase the risk of an accident.
Unsafe or Illegal Parking
Uber drivers may park in strange places when picking up or dropping off passengers. This can affect surrounding traffic and may put other drivers or pedestrians in danger.
Pittsburgh Ridesharing Laws Applicable to Uber
Pittsburgh laws require that:
- Uber vehicles be from Model Year 2006 or higher with at least four doors.
- Uber vehicles be in good condition after passing state inspection.
- Uber drivers be at least 21 years of age with a valid state driver’s license.
- Uber drivers maintain current vehicle registration and carry locally accepted insurance.
According to the Public Vehicle-For-Hire Innovation Act:
- Uber drivers may operate under a two-year experimental license Public Utility Commission agreement.
- Privately owned vehicles used for public transportation must be contacted by app, not street-hailed.
- Rideshare drivers may not use taxi stands to solicit business.
- Background checks and minimal insurance levels are required ($50,000 / $100,000 / $25,000)
- Photographic access of the vehicle driver and license plate must be sent to passengers before pick-up.
- Uber drivers must pass criminal background, sex offender database, and driver history checks.
How to Select an Attorney in Pittsburgh for Your Uber Accident
When looking for the best Uber accident attorney in Pittsburgh, look for the following qualifications:
Experience with Ridesharing Accidents
Many lawyers have experience with car accidents, but ridesharing accidents are a little different. You increase your chances of being successful in your Uber accident lawsuit if you have an attorney who has experience with your type of case. There are unique laws in Pennsylvania that apply to ridesharing accidents, and your attorney needs to be well-versed in these to properly represent you.
It’s easy these days to find out more about the firm you’re considering working with. Check online to see what sort of reputation they have. Then feel free to ask them about their other clients, their results, and their referrals. A good Uber accident attorney will be willing to provide references that speak to their abilities and their reputation.
When you hire an Uber accident lawyer, you’re not hiring only the attorney—you’re hiring the entire firm or office. That means you want to check the attorney’s staff as well, as they will likely be doing research and investigative work on your behalf. When you go into the office, do you feel comfortable? Do the staff members communicate clearly and politely? Is it a professional atmosphere?
There are few things as frustrating as wondering how your case is going and hearing nothing from your attorney’s office. It can be equally difficult to try to talk to your attorney about your case if all you hear is a lot of legal jargon that makes no sense to you. As you’re shopping around, take note of how responsive the firm is, and how they communicate with you.
How will your Uber accident attorney be paid? It’s best to choose one that works on a contingency basis. This means they will not charge you unless they can achieve a settlement or judgment in your favor. You may be responsible for smaller costs like filing fees and expert witness fees. Ask about the attorney’s fee process so you understand exactly what you’ll be responsible for.
What Our Clients Have to Say About Chaffin Luhana
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
Auto Personal Injury Recovery
“It’s a shame that the insurance companies put you through this…I’m glad there are people like you out there because the insurance companies would walk all over victims otherwise.”
– Mark S., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“[The firm has] done right [by] me. You did everything right. Informing me and keeping me up to date. You did a fine job. I appreciate you very much.”
– Roger J., Personal Injury Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“I didn’t know what to expect since I never needed an attorney before. You took care of everything and were there for me.”
– Vicki B., Personal Injury Client
Here are some recent reviews from our clients
Find more testimonials here.
Dedication to Community
Law partners Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana, along with their families, established The Chaffin Luhana Foundation in 2010.
A not-for-profit organization, the Foundation encourages the development of human potential and supports community empowerment through the following activities:
- Scholarships: Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual scholarship to a student who helps us in the fight against distracted driving by submitting an inspiring personal essay.
- Financial gifts: The Foundation awards periodic financial gifts to institutions of higher learning to support scientific research and funds educational scholarships to students.
- Stephanie Victor Legacy Award: The Chaffin Luhana Foundation awards an annual financial gift to one deserving individual who overcame significant challenges and achieved great milestones in his or her life or career.
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation: Chaffin Luhana has partnered with this organization to benefit those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Najee Harris Partnership: We have partnered with Pittsburgh Running Back, Najee Harris, and his Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation to support those in need in the Greater Pittsburgh area.
The founding partners of Chaffin Luhana have extensive experience in fighting for plaintiffs’ rights:
- Founder Eric Chaffin: Mr. Chaffin has handled a wide array of cases against various types of manufacturers, with dozens of multimillion-dollar recoveries.
- Founder Roopal Luhana: Ms. Luhana manages the firm’s mass torts division. Throughout her career, she has served on committees in MDLs involving over-the-counter consumer products and defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
- Partner Patrick Booth: Mr. Booth enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help his clients obtain the best results possible in their personal injury cases.
Chaffin Luhana lawyers have also been named to the prestigious “Super Lawyers” list several years in a row.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Uber drivers are technically "independent contractors" who operate under the Uber banner. Under this classification, the Uber driver's auto insurance policy would be liable for accident injuries.
Many insurance policies, however, refuse to cover an accident if the driver was operating in a “commercial” capacity unless the driver has a commercial driver’s license and policy.
If the driver’s insurance company denies the claim, Uber offers liability insurance under certain conditions:
- During period 1, when the driver is logged in but has not accepted a ride, Uber covers up to $50,000 per person, up to $100,000 per accident, and up to $25,000 in property damage.
- During period 2, when the driver has accepted a trip, liability coverage increases to $1 million.
- During period 3, when the rider is in the car, liability coverage extends up to $1 million, with limited coverage for property damage and uninsured motorist coverage.
Your options after an Uber accident depend on two factors:
- Your role in the accident (were you the driver, passenger, or third party?)
- Which party caused the accident
Usually, the party who caused the accident is liable for damages. Keep in mind that Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, however. That means that each driver’s insurance pays for their own medical bills after an accident, regardless of fault, up to a certain limit.
There may be other damages, however, that are not covered by your individual insurance company (such as pain and suffering or lost wages), or your policy limits may not be enough to cover the extent of your medical damages. Then you may need to file a claim with the at-fault party.
Here are some examples:
- A third party was at fault: If another driver hit the Uber car you were riding in, you and the Uber driver would seek medical damages from your own insurance policies. If you have other damages, you would file claims with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
- The Uber driver was at fault: Again, each person’s insurance pays for their own medical bills. For other damages, whether you were a passenger in the Uber car, a driver in another vehicle, or a pedestrian or cyclist hurt in the accident, you would file a claim with the Uber driver’s insurance company. Should that claim be denied, you would file a claim with Uber’s insurance. Remember that Uber’s rules will apply. Was the driver transporting a passenger at the time of the accident? That will affect the amount of compensation that may be available through Uber’s insurance.
- There was shared fault: Pennsylvania has comparable fault rules, which means that as long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, you can seek damages (besides initial medical damages) from the party that carries the majority of the fault.
As you can see, these cases can become complicated, particularly when the driver’s insurance isn’t adequate and you have to file a claim with Uber’s insurance. This is where an Uber accident attorney can help.
As noted above, after an Uber accident, you would file a claim with your own insurance provider first for medical expenses, and file the at-fault party’s insurance provider for additional damages.
Keep in mind, however, that insurance companies are most concerned about their profits and may try to pay you less than you deserve. This is why you may want to hire an Uber accident attorney. He or she will represent your interests and fight to achieve the best outcome for you.
The types of compensation that may be available to you (depending on your circumstance) after an Uber accident include the following:
- Medical damages: This includes current and future medical bills, as well as physical therapy and long-term care if needed.
- Lost wages: If your injuries keep you from being able to work, you can seek compensation for your lost wages.
- Loss of earning capacity: If your injuries are severe enough that they will keep you from returning to your job, you deserve compensation for this.
- Disability and disfigurement: If you were paralyzed or otherwise disabled in the accident, or if you suffered from injuries that resulted in permanent disfigurement, you can make a claim for these damages.
- Property damages: If you were driving another car that was hit by an Uber driver, you can claim your property damages. The same would be true if you were riding a bike or motorcycle, as long as the Uber driver was at fault.
- Pain and suffering/emotional distress: Though these damages can be more difficult to quantify, your Uber accident attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to support this claim.
Loss of consortium: If you are hurt or disabled to the point that you can no longer provide the support and companionship to your partner or spouse that you did before, your partner or spouse can claim loss of consortium.
If you were in another vehicle that was involved in an accident with an Uber vehicle, you may be able to recover damages from the Uber driver or another at-fault driver as long as you were not more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. The police report as well as other evidence will help determine fault. If you disagree with their findings, an Uber accident attorney can help.
Whether you’re an Uber passenger, an Uber driver, or another driver, seeking immediate medical attention is paramount following an Uber accident in Pittsburgh. Even if you “feel fine,” it’s best to call 9-1-1 and have yourself checked for whiplash, herniated discs, meniscus tears, and other latent car-accident injuries.
If you’re an Uber passenger involved in a collision, you may want to do the following…
- Use your phone to snap photos and videos of the crash scene and property damage, if possible.
- Make note of the driver’s name and information and contact info of other parties involved.
- Try to get the contact information of any eyewitnesses who saw the crash.
- Do not assume the Uber driver’s policy will cover your injury claim. You may need a Pittsburgh lawyer to fight.
If you’re an Uber driver hit by another vehicle, you may want to do the following…
- Call 9-1-1 to file an accident report and seek medical attention, even if the damage seems minor.
- Take photos, looking particularly for skid marks or lack thereof. Get witness contact information.
- Get the other driver’s license plate number, insurance provider, and contact information.
- Be careful what you say, resisting the bait to apologize or admit liability for the crash.
- Contact Uber to find out if you are allowed to continue driving for them during the investigation.
- Call your insurance provider to find out who pays for the accident.
- Contact a Pittsburgh Uber accident attorney to negotiate for compensation.
If you’re driving another vehicle and get struck by an Uber driver, you may want to do the following…
- Get the names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Take as many photos of the accident scene and cars involved from different angles as possible.
- Call the police from the accident scene to file a report, insisting that the Uber driver stick around.
- Contact a law firm to represent your best interests, particularly when dealing with insurers.
Because Uber drivers are independent contractors and drive their own vehicles, the insurance works differently than it would for say, a taxi service.
All Uber drivers in Pittsburgh must maintain their own insurance policies as per state laws. If you are in an accident with an Uber driver and they are determined to be at fault, you can make a claim with the Uber driver's individual insurance (for damages over what your own policy covers for medical damages).
If that insurance isn’t adequate to cover your injuries, Uber also provides additional insurance to cover accidents involving its drivers. Keep in mind that the rules mentioned above apply. The amount of compensation available depends on whether the driver was logged into the Uber app at the time of the accident, and whether they had accepted a trip or were carrying passengers.
If the driver was not logged into the app at the time of the accident, Uber cannot be held liable. Your only option then is to seek damages from the driver's insurance company.
You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. This is the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. Once that time passes, you can no longer seek compensation.
It’s best not to wait that long, however. Most insurance companies reserve the right to deny your claim if it’s not submitted within a reasonable amount of time. (How long that is varies depending on the insurance provider.)
You also don’t want the facts of the case to go cold. Gathering evidence about the accident is easiest early on. After that, witnesses may forget details, videos may be erased, and other types of evidence may be more difficult to obtain.