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With plenty of amazing places to go in and around Santa Cruz, the Uber app gets plenty of taps each day.  The biggest rideshare company of all wants our business and will pick us up almost anywhere, but in return, they owe us some safety on our roads.

If you bike along Santa Cruz’s sun and sand or beautiful parks you may have noticed the rideshare invasion locally.  The drivers tend to make a lot of stops and can sometimes be distracted by their jobs.  Bicyclists already have an uneasy relationship with distracted drivers. Careless drivers cause thousands of bicycle accidents every year.  Someone on the clock can have even more reason to forget to double-check that mirror and fail to see bicyclists.

An accident can be the result and a cyclist can face the consequences of a collision and tumble to the ground.  The rider can suffer severe injuries and be left wondering how to hold an Uber Driver responsible.

Bicycle Accidents a Growing Problem in California

California’s amazing scenery and weather make it a top bicycling destination, but unfortunately, that popularity leads to more deadly encounters with normal traffic and rideshares.  California Healthline found that biking fatalities were only growing.  In fact, the fatalities hit a 25 year high recently.  Traffic accidents killed 455 cyclists in California from 2016 through 2018.

Uber Distracted Driving Causes

Distracted driving is always a major cause of collision between cars and bikes.  Uber drivers can battle distractions all day when they’re on the clock.

Here are just a few of the added distractions:

  • “Deadheading” or cruising while waiting on the next passenger. Uber drivers can spend around 40% of their shift waiting on ride requests. Some companies encourage drivers to stay on the road so they’re closer to potential riders. This can lead to more accidents.
  • New ride requests. Drivers can be immediately distracted when a new passenger is available. Terms and special instructions need to be worked out. This might require several glances at a phone or even a phone call.
  • Locating destinations. Drivers will need to find the passenger’s current location and destination. Drivers utilize GPS systems but even the directions those devices provide have been known to recommend unsafe traffic decisions.
  • Speeding so that riders aren’t left waiting or dropped off late. Drivers get rated on their performance and they may become careless trying to keep a passenger happy.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Rideshare drivers have gotten charged with DUI on the job before. They actually have to maintain a blood alcohol concentration under .04% when on the job.  Normal drivers only have to stay under .08%.

Uber Insurance Policy for Drivers

Uber provides drivers with an insurance policy that covers any accidents that happen anytime from the moment a ride request is accepted until the trip is complete.

The policy provided is intended to be supplemental to the driver’s own insurance. In California, Uber drivers are required to carry rideshare insurance. And beware, Uber drivers may be on the road waiting for their next job to come in, but until they accept a request they aren’t technically on the clock.  In most cases, the Uber policy doesn’t fully cover the contract driver when they are listed as “available” but not on a delivery.

Uber coverage for its drivers varies according to what “periods” the driver may be in. In simple terms, if a driver is logged into the Uber app and available to pick up passengers, on the way to pick up a passenger, or if they have a passenger in the vehicle.

  • Period 1: Period 1 begins when a driver logs in to “driver mode” in the Uber App, and ends when they accept a ride request, known as a “match notification”. $50,000 per person injured, $100,000 total injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability.
  • Period 2: Period 2 begins when a Uber driver accepts a ride request and drives to the customer’s location. Uber offers One million dollars in liability insurance and One million dollars in uninsured /under-insured motorist coverage. This insurance is in effect until the passenger is dropped off at their destination.
  • Period 3: The Passenger is in the car. The one million dollar coverage extends until the passenger gets off a destination. There’s also limited coverage for damage to the driver’s car and uninsured motorists’ coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bicycle Accidents

If I was partially at fault in my bicycle accident can I still sue?

You may feel like your actions on a bicycle were partially to blame for the accident. That doesn’t mean you should forget about filing a claim.

Fortunately, California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means both the driver and the rider can share the blame in an accident.  They can be assigned a percentage of the fault.

For example, a bicyclist may be found to be 20% at fault for an accident, but a speeding Uber driver might be found to be 80% responsible. In that case, a bicyclist could still get compensation for injuries and other losses, but the 20% blame he or she shared would be deducted from the final award.


How long do I have to file a Bicycle Accident Claim in Santa Cruz?

The State of California generally provides victims up to two years to file a claim after an accident. We recommend that victims don’t wait this long though.  The more time that passes after an accident, the harder it’ll be to gather the evidence and documents needed to build a strong case against Uber.

Can I file a Bicycle Accident Claim if I wasn’t wearing a helmet?

You can still file for damages in a bicycle accident even if you weren’t wearing a helmet.  The concept of comparative negligence would come into play here too. You might be assigned part of the blame for your injuries if you rode without a helmet, but the Uber driver involved could also take a percentage of the blame for careless driving. You could be awarded damages, with your percentage of the blame subtracted.


Contact a Santa Cruz Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Bay Area Bicycle Law is the only personal injury law firm in Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing injured cyclists. Years of advocacy for bicycle victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills, knowledge base, and familiarity to handle Santa Cruz bicycle accident cases with the utmost level of professional expertise.

Contact us today for a free consultation. California cyclists who are injured by negligent drivers are entitled to a wide array of compensation. We will always offer you legal advice which is in your best interest.