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Injured Uber driver not covered for auto accident on return trip

Broken windshield

An Uber driver is not entitled to insurance coverage for injuries suffered in an accident that occurred after she dropped off a passenger, says a federal appeals court in affirming a lower court ruling.

In April, 2017, Bonni Genzer, a driver for San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc., accepted a fare and drove a passenger 139 miles from Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City to Woodward, Oklahoma, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in Bonni J. Genzer v. James River Insurance Co.

On her return journey, she was injured when an oncoming semitrailer truck ejected a semicircular metal object that crashed through her windshield and hit her face. The truck’s driver continued traveling and was never identified, according to the ruling. According to Uber, she was logged off the firm’s app at the time of the accident.

Richmond, Virginia-based James River had issued two insurance policies to an Uber affiliate: a “100 policy” that applies when an Uber driver is fulfilling requests for transportation services, and a “200 policy” that applies when Uber drivers are awaiting requests for transportation services.

After James River denied coverage for the accident, Ms. Genzer filed suit against James River for denial of uninsured motorist coverage under the 100 policy. The U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City granted the insurer summary judgment dismissing the case, which was affirmed by a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel.

The 100 policy included a provision that coverage applied when traveling “to the final destination of the requested transportation services including, but not limited to, dropping-off of passenger(s),” said the ruling.

“Genzer asserts that this definition is susceptible to ‘multiple constructions as to the point that terminates coverage,’” said the ruling. “But the definition creates no such ambiguity. It plainly defines coverage as being coterminous with a passenger’s ‘requested transportation services,’ which conclude when the passenger reaches his or her ‘final destination’ and fully exits the vehicle with his or her belongings,” said the ruling. “Though it contemplates intervening stops en route to that destination … its coverage plainly ceases at the last passenger’s destination.”

“Though we sympathize with Genzer’s misfortune and injuries, this outcome is dictated by the covered-auto endorsement’s plain terms,” said the ruling, in affirming the lower court’s decision.

Attorneys in the case were not immediately available for comment.

The National Labor Relations Board’s office of general counsel issued an advisory memo in May that said Uber drivers are independent contractors and not employees. 





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