According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), There were 33,654 fatal car accidents in the U.S. in 2018, causing 36,560 deaths. That amounts to 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Unfortunately for drivers in Colorado, the rate of deaths per distance is higher than the national average at 1.17 deaths per 100 million miles traveled.
If you had a family member involved in a fatal accident as an Uber driver, passenger, or was hit by an Uber driver, talk to a rideshare accident lawyer about your rights. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your case, deal with Uber and the insurance company, and work to get you the maximum compensation after a fatal accident in Denver. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Fatal Traffic Accidents and Uber Drivers
In 2018, 632 people were killed in 588 fatal car accidents in Colorado. The fatal accidents involved a number of causes, including driving while impaired, hazardous road conditions, and failing to stop at a red light. Accidents involving driving while distracted are all too common. Some of these accidents involve Uber drivers and other rideshare drivers who are distracted by their phone or mobile device while driving.
The use of rideshare companies in Colorado has increased for tourists, local residents out for a night on the town, and people who cannot drive. With more Uber drivers on the road, accidents with Uber vehicles are more likely. Sometimes an accident is just an unfortunate accident. However, most car accidents are still caused by driver error.
When a driver is responsible for a fatal accident, that driver should be held accountable for their actions. The driver caused an accident that took a loved one away from their family, who will never be able to get back their companionship, support, guidance, and affection. If you have a family member who was killed in an Uber accident in Aurora, Denver, Fort Collins, or Westminster, contact an experienced Colorado rideshare accident lawyer.
Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents in Colorado
Car accidents, including Uber accidents, can be caused by any number of reasons, including:
- Traffic violations,
- Drowsy driving,
- Distracted driving,
- Texting and driving,
- Driving while using the Uber app,
- Mapping while driving,
- Driver inexperience,
- Motor vehicle defects,
- Improper road design,
- Improper turning and intersection violations,
- Road rage, and
- Poor road conditions.
The situation around an accident can increase the risk that an injury car accident turns fatal. Immediate response and treatment by medical professionals can help mitigate injuries in a car accident. Delays in response can increase the chance that an accident victim may die from their injuries. Delays can be caused by:
- Bad weather,
- Single-car accident with no other witnesses,
- Crushed vehicle requiring extractions,
- Remote or rural accident site,
- Hit and run accident, or
- Mass-casualty incident (MCI).
Family Members Filing Wrongful Death Claims After Fatal Uber Accident
A personal injury claim allows the accident victim to get damages from the party or parties who caused the accident. However, when the injury victim dies, they are not able to file a personal injury claim. Instead, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Only certain family members or beneficiaries can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado. During the first year after the victim's death, the following can file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Spouse of the deceased,
- Heirs of the deceased (upon the written election of the spouse),
- Heirs of the deceased (if there is no surviving spouse), or
- A designated beneficiary, if there is one (where there is no surviving spouse).
After the first year but before the end of 2 years from the date of death, the following can file a wrongful death lawsuit as the plaintiff if a lawsuit has not already been filed:
- Spouse of the deceased,
- Heirs of the deceased, or
- A designated beneficiary, if there is one.
These filing and timeline restrictions basically give the spouse the first chance to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The spouse can elect other eligible individuals to file a lawsuit or the other individuals can wait a year then file on their own.
If the accident victim is an unmarried adult without descendants or a beneficiary, or if the deceased is a minor without descendants, the parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim.
How Much Time to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Colorado
There is a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim in Colorado, known as the statute of limitations. Under Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-80-101, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is 2 years from the date of death. This means the eligible family or beneficiaries have to file a wrongful death claim within 2 years from when the individual died.
For example, Daryl is biking through Boulder on April 20, 2020. Daryl is hit by an Uber driver who was mapping a route and not watching the road. Daryl is taken to the hospital. After 2 days of treatments, Daryl dies on April 22, 2020. Daryl's spouse wants to file a lawsuit against the Uber driver for causing the fatal accident. Daryl's spouse would generally have until April 21, 2022, to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, Uber, and any other parties.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Damages in an auto accident include the losses caused by the accident. However, the damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are the losses to the surviving family members. Economic and noneconomic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include:
- Funeral expenses,
- Burial costs,
- Loss of the decedent's services,
- Loss of the decedent's income,
- Loss of companionship,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Loss of benefits.
Uber Drivers Killed in Car Accidents
The Uber driver can be the victim of a fatal car accident. Fatal accidents where the Uber driver is the victim can be caused by:
- Negligent drivers,
- Drunk drivers,
- Passengers assaulting the driver,
- Vehicle defects, or
- Poor road conditions.
Family members of an Uber driver who was killed in an accident may be lost because they are not sure who is responsible for the accident and whether Uber will pay for damages. Before letting Uber decide what will happen in your case, talk to your Colorado Uber accident lawyers to make sure your family will be provided for after the loss of a loved one.
Is Uber Responsible for the Fatal Car Accident?
The party responsible, or liable, in a wrongful death lawsuit may depend on a number of factors. The Uber driver or another driver may be liable for causing the accident or there may be multiple parties who are liable for the accident.
Liability in a car accident is generally based on negligence. A negligent driver who caused the accident may be liable to the victim's family for damages. Negligence can also be shown through per se violations of traffic laws that caused the accident. For example, if an Uber driver was speeding and hit a cyclist, the Uber driver may be negligent because the driver violated a traffic law intended to protect others on the road.
If Uber was, in part, responsible for the accident, Uber may be liable for damages to the family. Even if the driver caused the accident, Uber may be liable if the driver was considered an employee of Uber. Uber tries to classify drivers as independent contractors and not employees but a jury may determine an Uber driver is an employee, making Uber vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees.
Insurance for Fatally Injured Uber Passengers
Uber passengers who are fatally injured in an Uber accident may be covered by Uber's insurance policy. If the driver had a passenger or was on the way to pick up an Uber passenger, Uber's primary insurance is in effect, in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) per accident.
Insurance for Fatally Injured Drivers, Passengers, or Pedestrians
If the Uber driver caused a fatal accident to another driver, motorcyclist, cyclist, pedestrian, or other bystanders, the insurance coverage may depend on the driver's status at the time. If the Uber driver was not on the app, their private insurance would generally apply.
If the Uber driver was logged into the app, waiting on a fare but had not yet accepted a passenger, the driver may be covered in the following amounts:
- $50,000 for bodily injury per person;
- $100,000 for bodily injury per accident (for all persons injured);
- $25,000 for property damage per accident.
If you suspect an Uber driver may have been distracted when they caused a fatal accident, your Denver accident attorney may be able to investigate the driver's phone records to determine what the driver was doing at the time of the accident. The driver may also have been drowsy from working too long or speeding to try and get Uber bonuses.
Denver Uber Driver Accident Lawyers
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented families throughout Colorado with a loved one fatally injured in an Uber accident. Our experienced attorneys understand how the insurance and rideshare companies operate and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.