You probably have insurance on your vehicle. Will that insurance protect you in this situation? It’s a good question. There are types of coverage in Arizona known as UM or Uninsured Motorist coverage and UIM, which is short for Under-Insured Motorist coverage. Those protections may help you in this kind of a situation. Last year, I created several videos in which I discussed UM and UIM coverage in Arizona and I would encourage you to go back and look at those videos because a lot of the things that I said in those videos are very relevant to this topic.
One of the issues that you’re going to encounter specifically with respect to Uber is if you are a passenger in an Uber vehicle and you are injured through the fault of somebody else, can you make a claim against either your uninsured motorist coverage or your under-insured motorist coverage so that you can be made whole? Let’s look at the uninsured motorist situation. Suppose you’re riding in the Uber vehicle and your Uber driver is driving safely and reasonably, not doing anything wrong, but somebody else runs a red light and t-bones your vehicle and you’re badly injured, but the at-fault vehicle has no insurance. What do you do in that situation?
One of the things that I would be looking at is I would be looking at your own personal auto insurance coverage and I would be looking at the uninsured motorist provisions to see if you have coverage for that type of an incident. Hopefully, you do. Hopefully, you have purchased a large amount of insurance so that you have protected yourself. Another situation to look at is where there is some insurance available, but not sufficient insurance available to cover you for your losses. In other words, you have somebody who is under-insured.
You would want to look at your own policy and make sure that you can make a claim under that policy because the at-fault driver was under-insured. Good chance that you’re going to get into a legal dispute in making those types of claims where your insurance company may try to argue, “Hey, we provide UM and UIM coverage, but it’s really limited to when you’re using your vehicle,” or if they lose that argument, which they probably would. There’s some good Case Law that would help you there, but then the next position they might fall back to would be, “Okay, so this does provide coverage even if you’re not riding in your own vehicle.” Like if you’re riding in a friends vehicle. “Our UM policy or UIM policy would cover you,” but this really isn’t your friend’s vehicle, this is a commercial transport that you’re on. “We don’t insure commercial transports.”
There would be some argument there as to whether that was a valid exclusion that they have carved out. I think that you could make some arguments on both sides and we are likely, at some point in time, to have either a statute or a case that directly considers that issue that gives us the answer to those questions. One of the things that would come up is, “Is this really a commercial vehicle because it’s being used for a commercial purpose,” but the Uber driver uses this vehicle as their own private vehicle all the time. They may have another job. They’re not a full-time taxi driver, they’re a teacher during the day. They just drive Uber for a few hours in the evening to make some extra money.
Does that take the Uber vehicle into being a commercial vehicle so that it would be carved out and the exclusions in your UM and UIM policy might apply to it? These are the kinds of issues you would encounter in making UM and UIM claims if you were injured while you were a passenger on an Uber fare. I’m not going through all of these issues and discussing these issues for the purpose of throwing Uber under the limo. I happen to be a big fan of Uber. I use the services frequently and I recommend it to other people, but there are a host of legal issues, some of which we’ve discussed here that are brand new. They haven’t been sorted through yet and you may encounter these legal issues if you are injured while you are a passenger in a Uber vehicle. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to give me a call.
If you’ve been injured and want to know if you have a case, please contact us today! Our team is standing by to help you with your claim.