It goes without saying that California car accidents involving a passenger’s personal injuries differ greatly from accidents where the injured parties were drivers of their respective vehicles. For one thing, a passenger is not a registered vehicle owner. More importantly, however, California law applies different standards for passengers and drivers, both in regards to recovering compensation and the duty of care on the road.
If you have been injured in a California Uber accident, here are a few legal facts to keep in mind concerning the legal rights of vehicle passengers under California law.
What Duty of Care Do California Passengers Have?
California law still requires passengers to have some duty of care for their own safety, which is true in most other states as well. Seat belt laws, for example, are one clear example of the expectation that passengers have some duties to protect themselves. Another example of this duty is a passenger’s legal responsibility to not knowingly enter a vehicle with a driver who is intoxicated. Still, California places a much higher duty of care on drivers, which necessarily includes Uber drivers.
This higher expectation of drivers is clearly laid out by California Civil Jury Instruction 711, which states that a passenger has no legal requirement "to be aware of the conditions on the highway. Further, it is explicitly spelled out that a driver will use reasonable care. The only exception to this principle exists if the passenger should become aware of a danger on the highway, such as a driver’s impairment or failure to use reasonable care. If the passenger is aware of such a danger, then the passenger must take reasonable steps to protect themselves.
In simplest terms, there is a much higher duty of care for drivers. As a passenger, you are not required to keep your head on a swivel and constantly monitor the road to help your Uber driver (or any driver, for that matter).
Insurance Companies May Still Try to Use Passenger Behavior to Minimize Your Compensation
Yes, California law makes it clear that the rights afforded to passengers make it extremely unlikely that a passenger will be found at fault for the accident or comparatively negligent. Even so, rest assured that the insurance company will use any opportunity to use passenger behavior to undermine your legal claim. In an Uber accident, a common example would be unruly drunk behavior in the back seat of the vehicle while the driver operates the vehicle.
This is one of many reasons why it is important to choose an Uber accident lawyer who understands the nuances of Uber accidents and refute these arguments that are designed to limit your compensation.
As a California Passenger, You Are Afforded More Legal Rights Than Drivers
At Ledger Law, we understand that you have more legal rights than California drivers. We will fully investigate the claim and will pursue legal compensation that holds any and all parties accountable. In an Uber accident, this could include:
- Your Uber driver
- Another driver or drivers in a multiple vehicle accident
- Both/all drivers
Your right to sue all legally responsible drivers is essential if you have suffered severe, catastrophic or life-threatening injuries. Our team at Ledger Law has a national reputation for helping deserving personal injury and Uber accident victims recover millions in deserved compensation.
Contact us online today for a free case evaluation with a California Uber accident lawyer to protect your legal rights as a passenger in an Uber accident.