Can I Bring a Wrongful Death Claim Against an Uber or Other Ridesharing Driver?New Jersey Legal News
Because ridesharing is still a fresh, recently-popularized concept, many people are not prepared for what they need to do when something goes wrong. You never want to think that there could be repercussions for using a service that is supposed to keep many people safe every year and bring passengers home safely after a night out with friends or many other occasions where somebody is unable to drive on their own. With a new emergence of these companies, you might wonder what happens when somebody’s life has been taken in an Uber or other ridesharing company accident. This is especially true if you have lost somebody close to you.
We understand how deeply you must be grieving if a loved one has been taken from you in an accident that you believe was completely preventable under the circumstances. It might be absolutely frightening to know that your financial situation could be impacted by the loss of a loved one to an Uber driver, especially when these accidents are so new and liability might not be so easy to determine.
The New Threat of Wrongful Death Claims Against Uber Drivers
In early 2014, a 6-year-old girl’s life was taken in San Francisco when she had been walking across the street with her family and, suddenly, an Uber driver breezed through and struck her, tragically killing her. The driver faced charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and failing to yield to pedestrians.
A lawsuit was quickly filed by the family against Uber in an attempt to retain damages for the loss of their young loved one. The lawsuit claimed that Uber should be held liable for the young girl’s death, stating that the driver was on the Uber app at the time of the accident and not paying attention to the roadway. However, Uber alleged that they were not responsible, as the driver was not carrying a passenger at the time and was not “on the clock” at the time of the accident. Ultimately, the claim would be brought against the individual driver, but not against Uber.
This was the first wrongful death claim against the company, which claimed that liability was not on their part but instead on the driver. This means that the company views its drivers as independent contractors rather than actual employees with set hours and many other terms of average employment. Though drivers for Uber must have their own insurance policies, a fatal accident can involve millions and millions in damages, which will typically exceed the insurance policies that an average person will carry.
With Uber and many other companies still in their infancy, there is no telling what will happen on a case-to-case basis, but we want you to know that you have many rights if you have lost somebody close to you in an accident and that you should always speak with an attorney.
Possible Liable Parties in Your Case
If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death in New Jersey that you believe took place due to the negligence of an Uber driver, you have options when it comes to moving forward. One or more parties might be liable in the event of your accident, which could include any number of entities:
- The driver of the ridesharing vehicle could be responsible for your loved one’s accident if they were not driving in a responsible manner, including engaging in distracted driving.
- The driver of another vehicle might be liable. This would apply in cases where your loved one was a passenger in an Uber and was killed because the Uber was involved in an accident with another vehicle.
- If the accident involved an Uber driver who was intoxicated at the time, the bar owner or tavern that served them might share liability in some ways.
- The company that employs the driver, such as Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing company, might share liability for damages, especially if they hired an inexperienced driver or one that is known to drive dangerously.
Types of Damages Available to You
There is no larger loss than the unexpected death of a loved one due to the negligence of another party. If you believe that an Uber driver acted in a reckless manner and, as a result, your loved one has been taken from you and your family, we do not want you to feel alone during this time of immense grief. The financial impact that these emotional accidents can have on your life can be devastating and you have many rights to recovery available at your disposal. Let’s focus on some of the damages that you might be able to recover at this time.
Economic: These types of damages encompass all of the financial contributions that the loved one made. For instance, if your loved one whose life was taken in one of these accidents was the breadwinner of your family, you might receive a settlement of their projected earnings now that they are no longer there to provide to you and your loved ones. Other types of economic damages involve aspects like medical and funeral expenses associated with your loved one, loss of inheritance, loss of medical coverage, and more.
Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are not always as obvious and might be more difficult to calculate, depending on the circumstances. Examples of these damages include damages for your mental anguish, loss of care and protections, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and many other damages related to the emotional toll that these accidents can have on you and your loved ones.
Punitive Damages: You will find punitive damages in cases where a driver has acted with outright negligence. In these circumstances, the courts wish to punish the defendant and make an example out of their behavior. This could be seen in especially reckless cases, such as ones involving a drunk driver who made the decision to drink and get behind the wheel of a car.
Speaking with an Attorney
At Brady, Brady & Reilly, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here for you after you have lost somebody close to you following a devastating and fatal car accident in New Jersey. We put our wrongful death attorneys to work for you during this difficult time, especially when you believe that you have rights at this time and can show that another party is liable for your loved one’s fatality. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for more information during this difficult time at (201) 997-0030.