Tampa Uber Accident Attorneys
As the ability to travel opens up with the easing of pandemic restrictions, and tourism returns to near-normal levels in Tampa, the sudden change in demand has left rideshare companies such as Uber struggling with a driver shortage.
The company rolled out incentives to recruit new drivers, including bonuses and increased pay for completed rides. In addition, the price the passengers paid for the service increased by 50 to 60 percent due to the lack of available drivers; this underscored the importance of having plenty of transportation options in Florida’s third-largest city.
Unfortunately, while many may heartily celebrate the return of tourism, it has also resulted in numerous traffic accidents. There are nearly 30,000 traffic accidents in Hillsborough County each year, resulting in injuries to around 19,000 people.
Among the vehicles involved in these accidents are cars operated by Uber drivers. If you were in an Uber accident, an experienced Tampa Uber accident lawyer from the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys can help you understand the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.
Frank and Jennifer Fernandez have succeeded in obtaining more than $100 million in jury verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are completely devoted to providing legal services and assistance to those in Tampa who have been injured or have lost loved ones due to area hazards, including the hazards found on our roadways.
Uber in Tampa
Uber’s revolutionary journey began in late 2008, when two friends from California, visiting Paris, could not find a taxi. They began brainstorming about the notion of creating an app for people to use on their smartphones that would allow them to arrange for a ride with the single tap of a button.
In July 2010, the first Uber passenger took a ride across San Francisco. The rideshare business took off from there, spreading across the nation and other parts of the world—including Paris, in 2011, where the idea was born less than three years before.
Uber and Tampa have had a somewhat intense relationship over the years. Uber began offering its services in the city in April 2014. At the time, the company stated that its fares were about 40 percent cheaper than cabs. While riders began to take advantage of the ease of ordering a ride and paying for it via an online app, area regulators did not embrace the company as well.
The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission spent the early days of Uber’s existence here ticketing drivers for not having the proper insurance or licensing required for a for-hire transportation service. Uber argued that its service did not fall under the commission’s jurisdiction, paid its drivers’ fines, and continued to operate.
The public battle between the commission and Uber continued both in the courtroom and the news media for two years. That battle was one reason cited by a Tampa Republican House Member who put forth a bill that dismantled the organization. “The public has lost complete faith in the ability of this agency to regulate credibly, equitably and efficiently,” lawmaker Jamie Grant said in 2017 as then-Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law.
How Uber Accidents Happen
Uber and other rideshare companies that have been created in recent years often tout the safety benefits they provide to highly populated areas such as Tampa. The rideshare model may relieve traffic congestion and provide transportation through areas city buses can’t access or are too far away from the bus system for riders to walk.
Despite these claims, studies—including one conducted by MIT—suggested that traffic congestion had increased in cities with rideshare services. Some of the reasons for this increase included:
- Dead-heading, which describes a rideshare driver who has his or her app on and drives through the city while waiting for a passenger.
- A decrease in the number of individuals utilizing city buses, walking, or cycling.
The term “Uber accident” is actually an umbrella of several different accidents that can give rise to a claim, such as:
- Accidents caused by the Uber driver that injure a passenger.
- Accidents caused by the Uber driver that injure occupants of another vehicle.
- Accidents caused by an Uber driver that injure a pedestrian or bicyclist.
- Accidents caused by another roadway user that injure an Uber driver and/or their passengers.
- Accidents involving an Uber vehicle that kill any roadway user.
Tampa-Specific Dangers Involving Uber
Many of the things that make Uber so popular in Tampa also play a huge part in creating danger for the company’s drivers and passengers: traffic congestion and a bustling nightlife. Tampa drivers are stuck in traffic about 23 minutes longer than drivers in other regions, making this the second most-congested area in Florida, and the 25th most-congested area in the nation.
The Ybor City and SoHo neighborhoods are common destinations for those looking to enjoy Tampa’s sizzling nightlife. However, there are opportunities for a night out with friends throughout the city.
As explained by the National Safety Council, while night-driving makes up only about 25 percent of the driving an individual does during the day, more than half of the accidents on U.S. roadways happen at night, with the risk of fatal crashes being the highest on Saturday nights.
The hazards posed by night-driving include:
- Compromised night vision, which is a common issue that impacts individuals as they age due to cataracts or other degenerative eye conditions.
- Fatigue. The body instinctively wants to sleep during the nighttime hours, and most people require six to eight hours of sleep for optimal function. Driver fatigue presents many of the same deficits to drivers as alcohol impairment does, such as the inability to control one’s speed or maintain a single travel lane, slowed reaction times, and difficulty making good decisions. Anyone may suffer fatigue because of a life change, such as a new baby. But those at particular risk for driver fatigue are night and swing shift workers, long-haul truckers, and rideshare operators working the late-night hours when the bars close and individuals need a safe and sober ride home.
- Alcohol impairment. Nearly 30 people die each day in the U.S. as a result of accidents caused by drunk driving. While one would certainly hope the Uber driver who picks you up from the bar hasn’t been drinking, the issue has arisen enough times to warrant instructions for passengers who suspect the driver has been driving. These instructions include ending the trip immediately, calling 911, and reporting the driver to Uber. However, an even likelier scenario is an accident with other drivers who are drinking.
Common Injuries Suffered in Tampa Uber Accidents
As with other types of traffic accidents, Tampa Uber accidents can produce some of the most painful, serious, and life-altering injuries that one can experience.
Some of those injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of this type of injury, which involves damage to the brain caused by a jolt to the head or body. The brain is one of the body’s most important organs, as it controls the body’s voluntary and involuntary responses. However, despite its importance, the brain only has a limited ability to heal from injury. This results in many brain-injured individuals acquiring lifelong deficits because of their injury, including loss of memory, the inability to control one’s behaviors and impulses, difficulty with balanced and coordinated movement, and difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull down to around the waist area. Spinal discs and vertebrae offer protection but a violent jolt, such as in a car accident, can damage it. The spinal cord’s function is to relay messages from the brain to the rest of the body. However, like the brain, the cord only has a limited ability to heal itself from injury. Generally, spinal cord injuries result in a loss of sensation and function beneath the injury, known as paralysis. Individuals with spinal cord injuries occurring in the cervical (neck) area often experience tetraplegia, or paralysis in all of the body below the neck, including the arms and legs. Those whose injuries occur lower on the spine can experience paraplegia, which is paralysis in the lower extremities only. Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of spinal cord injuries.
- Damage to the spinal vertebrae or discs, which can destroy mobility loss and chronic pain, and require surgery to stabilize the spine.
- Internal injuries, which can produce life-threatening blood loss if not discovered and treated promptly. Some of the internal organs that can become damaged in a Tampa Uber accident include the liver, spleen, kidney, heart, or lungs. A pneumothorax is a condition that motor vehicle accidents cause by puncturing and collapsing the lung with the sharp end of a broken rib.
- Burns. Motor vehicles require the use of several toxic, flammable, and caustic chemicals to run. In serious collisions, occupants of the vehicle can suffer chemical burns due to contact with these chemicals and the skin, and can also suffer thermal burns from exposure to heat or flame resulting from these chemicals.
- Limb amputation. Traumatic limb amputations can occur in motor vehicle accidents as body parts make contact with sharp surfaces such as jagged glass or metal or from being crushed beneath the vehicle. Surgical amputations are also sometimes performed following a traumatic injury to a body part that leaves it so badly damaged that doctors cannot repair it.
- Broken bones. Nearly any bone in the body can break in a violent collision. While most broken bones heal through months of medical treatment, if the bone fails to heal properly, it can impact the person’s mobility and result in chronic pain, an affected gait, and other issues.
- Soft tissue injuries. Damage to the body’s soft tissues, such as ligaments, joints, and muscles, is one of the more common injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Soft tissue injuries include sprains, strains, contusions, and whiplash.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tampa Uber Accidents
If an Uber accident injured you, we don’t need to tell you how frustrating and overwhelming it can be to try and stay on top of bills and expenses while also recovering from injuries.
However, we can tell you that the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys is here to provide guidance, information, and services to assist you in seeking compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. Here are the answers to some of the questions we receive most often about Tampa Uber accidents.
What is the process for obtaining compensation after a Tampa Uber accident?
Individuals whom an Uber accident injured in Tampa can seek compensation for the expenses and psychological impacts of their injury through a lawsuit.
Generally, you must file this claim in court within four years of the date on which the accident occurred.
How do I prove who caused the Uber accident that resulted in my injury?
The potentially liable parties in an Uber accident include:
- The Uber driver.
- Other drivers whose reckless or careless actions caused an accident with an Uber car.
- The entity tasked with maintaining public roadways and ensuring that vegetation has not caused obstructed views, that the traffic lights are in working order, and that the road surface and grade do not pose unreasonable risks to travelers.
- The manufacturer of auto parts used in any of the vehicles involved, if the accident was the result of an auto defect.
To prove who caused the accident, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is what a reasonable person would do in a given circumstance to protect the safety and property of others.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care.
- The breach caused the accident in which the claimant’s injuries were sustained and resulted in expenses and psychological impacts.
What can I recover through a Tampa Uber accident claim?
Florida personal injury claimants are permitted to seek the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages through Tampa’s civil court system. The term “recovering damages” means obtaining payment in compensation for harm.
Economic damages refer to compensation for the expenses of your injury, while non-economic damages refer to compensation for the quality-of-life impacts that you have experienced as a result of the injury.
Some common expenses and impacts that appear on Uber accident damage claims include:
- Medical expenses, including the costs of emergency treatment, ambulance transport, diagnostic testing, surgical or physician services, hospitalization, prescription medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of assistive devices such as crutches, a wheelchair, or prosthetic limbs.
- Lost wages if you are too injured to work or must miss work to attend an injury-related doctor’s appointment.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in a permanent disability and you cannot earn what you did before your accident.
- Property damage related to the accident, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle you were driving when the accident occurred.
- Physical pain and suffering related to the injury or to particularly intense medical procedures used to treat the injury.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury has prevented you from engaging in activities that you previously enjoyed.
How does Uber’s $1 million insurance policy work?
Uber has a tiered insurance protocol that provides different levels of coverage depending on whether the driver is using his or her vehicle to transport paying passengers or for personal reasons.
The protocol is:
- When the driver’s app is off and he or she is using the car for personal reasons, the Uber policy is not in effect. Injuries resulting from carelessness or recklessness by the driver are compensated through his or her own insurance policy.
- If the driver’s app is on and he or she is waiting for a ride request when the accident occurs, it is anticipated that primary coverage would come from the driver’s personal policy. However, if coverage is not available through the driver’s policy, Uber provides a policy with $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per person/ $100,000 per accident, along with $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident.
- If the driver’s app is on and he or she is transporting a passenger or is en route to pick up a passenger, Uber provides $1 million in bodily injury liability and property damage coverage.
My Uber accident was caused because my driver was distracted by the app. Can I sue Uber?
Distracted driving is a major cause of injuries and fatalities on roadways in Tampa and throughout the U.S. It accounts for around 9 percent of all fatal crashes, 15 percent of all injury crashes, and 15 percent of the overall traffic crashes occurring in the nation.
There are three types of driver distractions, including:
- Cognitive distractions, which cause the driver’s mind to wander away from the task of safe driving.
- Manual distractions, which cause the driver to take his or her hands from the wheel.
- Visual distractions, which cause the driver to take his or her eyes from watching the road.
Since its inception, there have been concerns about the safety of the Uber app, which notifies the driver when he or she is being offered a ride. The driver only has seconds to accept the ride on the app before losing the opportunity. Once a passenger has been picked up, the driver then has to continue glancing at the app for GPS directions to the passenger’s destination.
Each time the driver glances at the app or reads information submitted through the app while driving, it causes him or her to look away from the road, which is a visual distraction. Quickly responding to a ride request or determining where the passenger needs to go by studying the GPS location through the app presents a cognitive distraction.
While Uber has integrated a safety feature that allows a passenger to accept a ride by tapping anywhere on their phone screen, the driver still has to remove their hand from the wheel to do so, meaning that the Uber app is a manual distraction, as well.
While Uber’s driver app can distract its drivers, past attempts to hold the company accountable for this have failed, in large part to the designation of Uber’s drivers as independent contractors rather than as employees. This designation protects Uber against direct liability for the driver’s actions.
How much is the average Tampa Uber accident settlement worth?
Every personal injury accident is unique, just as every settlement is unique. Settlements reflect not only the severity of the injury and clarity of liability but also both sides’ willingness to negotiate and agree to the resolution. Because there are so many personal factors involved in a settlement, it is impossible to generate an average.
Some of the factors that can impact the value of your case—and subsequently, what constitutes a fair settlement—include:
- How much insurance the at-fault party has. Insurance pays nearly all legal settlements and awards. While it is possible to seek compensation from an uninsured person or even to obtain a judgment in your favor, collecting your award would likely be difficult as most people can’t pay for someone else’s accident expenses out-of-pocket.
- The severity of your injuries. Severe injuries can result in increases to the amounts in nearly all damage claim categories. They are more likely to require more medical treatments, resulting in more time away from work, a higher risk of permanent deficits, and a higher amount of physical and emotional suffering.
- Your education level and career. While no life is more important than another, the cases of individuals who are at the highest point of their career are often valued higher. The reason for this is that wage loss and earning capacity are both recoverable expenses. It stands to reason that the more a person is making when they become injured, the bigger the loss they will experience if they can’t work for a time—or even permanently—after the injury.
- Your patience. Settlement negotiations can move extremely slow sometimes. While it is generally not very difficult to receive a low settlement offer, particularly in cases where liability is clear, obtaining a fair settlement offer is often another story. Insurance companies can continue to negotiate until after the trial begins but before a decision. Often, the fairest settlement offers will not arrive until just before litigation begins.
Will I have to pay taxes on my settlement?
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the compensation you receive from a personal injury settlement or award is not income or taxable.
The IRS makes an exception when it comes to punitive damages. Courts award punitive damages in some cases to financially punish a defendant who exhibited extremely wanton and reckless behavior that caused the accident. Because these damages do not compensate the victim for actual injury-related expenses or impacts, the IRS may tax this portion of your award.
One other tax implication you should be aware of pertains to claiming medical expenses as deductions. If you have deducted medical expenses from your tax burden and then later you obtain compensation for medical expenses, you must repay the amount of the deduction you took.
How can a Tampa Uber accident lawyer help me?
Accidents can be complex, particularly if they involve tiered insurance schemes such as those provided by Uber. Experienced Tampa Uber accident lawyers Frank and Jennifer Fernandez can ensure your right to seek compensation for your injuries.
Some of those services include:
- Obligation-free guidance through a free case evaluation. This is time that you have to speak with one of our attorneys about your accident, obtain answers to the legal questions you have about your specific case, and learn more about how the Fernandez Firm Accident Injury Attorneys can help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation available in your case.
- Determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to provide your compensation.
- Establishment of a value to your case that is based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred as a result of your injury, as well as those you will likely incur in the future.
- Negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to garner a fair settlement offer on your behalf.
- Guidance on the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting a settlement offer.
- Timely filing of all court-required paperwork, and attendance and representation of your case at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- Collecting and organizing the evidence and witness testimony to prove your case.
- Litigation services, including making opening and closing arguments, examining witnesses, and presenting evidence.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
Seeking Compensation for the Expenses and Impacts of Your Tampa Uber Accident
The average cost of a visit to an emergency room after suffering an injury is about $2,200. This cost includes triage fees, facility fees, professional fees, and supplies. Unfortunately, these costs are just the beginning of what is often a long and difficult financial journey for those who have suffered serious injuries in a Tampa Uber accident.
For those suffering permanent deficits or a high risk of lifelong complications—such as brain or spinal cord injuries—the expenses of medical treatment alone during their lives can reach well over $1 million.
If an Uber vehicle injured you, Florida permits you to use the civil court system to seek compensation for the impacts and expenses of your injury. Contact Frank and Jennifer Fernandez today at (863) 230-8361 for your free consultation. Let our experienced Tampa Uber accident lawyers help you make sense of the legal process of seeking compensation for your rideshare injuries.