Many people argue that Uber and other rideshare services have been a significant factor in reducing the number of drunk driving accidents. While this argument may be true, it does not mean that Uber vehicles or drivers are never involved in drunk driving accidents.
An Uber drive can be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when behind the wheel just like any other driver. In some cases, an Uber passenger may not know that he or she is riding with a drunk driver. The passenger may not be aware of the driver’s impairment until after the driver has caused a DUI accident.
Who is responsible for the damages caused by an Uber drunk driving accident?
Drunk Driving is a Crime, But it Can Be a Civil Matter Too
Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be charged and convicted of a crime pursuant to Maryland’s drunk driving laws. However, a drunk driver may also be held liable for damages if the driver causes an accident while driving under the influence. The criminal matter and the civil matter are two separate legal cases.
Therefore, a drunk driver could beat a DUI charge, but still be held liable for damages from an Uber drunk driving accident if you prove the driver caused the crash. The key is proving a driver caused a car crash, not that the driver was drunk at the time of the crash. The intoxication could have been a factor in the cause of the crash, but not necessarily.
Can Uber Be Held Liable for an Uber Drunk Driving Accident?
It would probably be very difficult to hold Uber liable for a drunk driving accident caused by one of its drivers unless you can prove that the company failed to perform due diligence. For example, the company failed to check the individual’s driving history, which contained a long list of DUI charges and convictions.
However, the insurance policy that Uber provides for its drivers should cover an Uber drunk driving accident if the Uber driver caused the crash. Uber provides liability insurance coverage when a driver is online with Uber and waiting for a request. The coverage varies by state, but is at least $50,000 per individual ($100,000) per accident.
When an Uber driver is on the way to pick up a passenger, and throughout the entire trip, the third party liability coverage increases to $1,000,000 per accident.
What Happens if Another Driver Caused the Uber Drunk Driving Accident?
It is possible to be involved in a drunk driving accident as an Uber passenger that was caused by another driver. In that case, your claim would be against the drunk driver’s insurance coverage. However, what happens if the drunk driver is uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance to pay your claim?
If the Uber drunk driving accident occurred during a trip, but was caused by another driver, Uber also covers the passenger with $1,000,000 uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. After exhausting a claim against the drunk driver, you may also be entitled to compensation from the Uber insurance policy if your claim was not paid in full by the drunk driver’s insurance company.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Uber Driver is Intoxicated?
Immediately request that the driver pull over to allow you to exit the vehicle and end the ride. At that time, you can call 911 to report the suspected drunk driver, and you may also want to notify Uber of the issue. Some of the signs that a driver may be intoxicated or impaired by alcohol include:
- Driving much faster than the speed limit or much slower than the speed limit
- Slurred speech and bloodshot/blurry eyes
- An odor of alcohol on the person or in the vehicle
- Following cars too closely
- Driving on the shoulder
- Weaving and crossing the center line
- Making wide turns
- Failing to stop for traffic signals or traffic signs
- Boisterous and loud conversations
If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, it is wise to end the ride immediately. Erring on the side of caution could save your life and reporting the driver could prevent an Uber drunk driving accident.
Filing an Uber Drunk Driving Accident Claim in Maryland
Drunk driving accident claims can be complicated. When you add an Uber driver to the mix, the case can become even more complex. Our Maryland Uber drunk driving accident attorneys can sort out the legal complexities to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the claims process.