In April 2016, Uber driver Corey Robinson got a fare from passenger Juan Carlos to drive from Philadelphia to the Bronx. The total trip was 100 miles, but Robinson could not keep his eyes on the road as he started to feel drowsy. In the name of safety, Robinson asked Carlos to take the wheel and complete the drive. Robinson was violently awakened around Binghamton, NY and discovered that Carlos was driving 86 MPH in a 65 MPH zone. Carlos temporarily evaded state troopers but crashed Robinson’s leased vehicle into a guardrail.
The chase and crash resulted in Carlos being arrested and the police classifying both men as having minor injuries. However, a year later, Robinson filed a civil lawsuit against Carlos and Uber claiming that his injuries were not only severe but disabling as well. The whole situation is bizarre and both Carlos and Robinson had their Uber accounts deactivated as a result of the incident. But the real question is, does Robinson’s personal injury lawsuit have merit?
Who Gets The Blame In An Uber Accident?
When you first read this story, you may wonder what kind of trouble Robinson will get in for allowing someone else to drive his car. Tickets and accidents follow a driver and not the vehicle, so Carlos will be the one getting in trouble for his actions and Carlos may even find that his personal auto insurance rates will go up as a result of his driving.
But the confusion settles in when you realize that Robinson was on an Uber run at the time of the accident, and it was a leased vehicle. In an Uber run, Robinson would be considered the person responsible for the actual driving. Also, if Juan Carlos is not listed as an additional driver on Robinson’s commercial insurance (which he is most likely not), then Robinson could find himself responsible for the damage done because he allowed an unauthorized driver to drive his vehicle.
If that is not confusing enough, then consider the fact that Robinson’s personal auto insurance was not in effect when he was on his Uber run. Personal auto insurance becomes no longer valid when the driver is using their vehicle for commercial purposes. Most insurance companies consider using a vehicle for Uber to be commercial purposes, and that presents a whole new list of issues for Robinson.
How Does Uber Insurance Work?
Despite the fact that Uber drivers are not Uber employees, the company has developed a $1 million liability policy to cover drivers when they are out on Uber trips. Most Uber drivers rely on this coverage to take over if something happens during a fare, but Uber always has the right to deny claims for any reason they see fit. The insurance is not necessarily binding since Uber drivers are not employees. To be completely covered, an Uber driver would need to pay for separate commercial auto insurance, which very few Uber drivers actually do.
Uber has a history of offering this coverage to drivers and then denying claims by saying that Uber drivers are not employees. If that happens, the driver may have no recourse if they had a passenger in the vehicle. If, by some stroke of luck, Robinson’s personal auto insurance company does agree to look at the case and possibly pay for damages, that could fall flat too when the company finds out that Carlos was not on a list of approved drivers for Robinson’s insurance.
Facing A Denied Claim
Since Uber has the option of denying any claims for accidents drivers may have, that would explain why Robinson is suing Uber as well as Carlos. But since Robinson was not acting as a responsible driver by being behind the wheel of his own vehicle, it is quite possible that a court may side with Uber in denying Robinson’s claim. Robinson may also run into issues when the police report stating that both men had only minor injuries, is compared to his personal injury lawsuit claim of disabling injuries due to the accident.
When it comes to cases of driver responsibility, an accident or ticket is always placed on the driver’s record and not on the insurance policy of the car. When drivers allow strangers to drive their cars, those drivers are usually forced to accept the consequences of their decisions. Corey Robinson may not be able to make an insurance claim for his accident, and the courts may deny his lawsuit. Hopefully, Robinson at least learns a valuable lesson to go along with his disabling injuries.