Over the past decade, the use of rideshare services has skyrocketed. Instead of hailing a cab, riders can use apps to summon transportation to their location and take them where they want to go. However, this increase in rideshare usage has also led to an increase in car accidents involving rideshare vehicles.
While these services are a modern convenience, they have some downsides. One significant downside is traffic accidents. If you were recently involved in a rideshare accident as a passenger or another driver, seeking representation from a seasoned rideshare accident lawyer can maximize your compensation.
Common Causes of Rideshare Accidents
One study revealed that 35 percent of Americans had used a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber at least once.
Since 2011, ridesharing services have increased traffic fatalities by as much as 2 to 3 percent in the U.S. These accidents result in an average of 1,100 deaths annually and cost the U.S. between $5.33 billion to $13.24 billion.
Rideshare drivers can cause these accidents the same way other drivers cause accidents, such as drowsy, distracted, impaired driving, or lack of vehicle maintenance.
However, the nature of rideshare driving makes accidents more likely due to:
- Distraction: Rideshare drivers are constantly looking at their phones. They look at maps, use navigation, and use their rideshare platform app to find the next riders. This creates a significant distraction.
- Speeding: The faster a rideshare driver can take a passenger where they want to go, the more rides they can provide. More rides equal more money. Drivers are often in a hurry to drop off their current passengers so they can pick up new ones, and in the process, they are speeding.
- Drowsiness: For many rideshare drivers, driving is their second job. They work full-time and then give rides on evenings or weekends when they are off. While it may be a great way to earn some extra money, it also can increase the number of drowsy or fatigued drivers on the road. In fact, a recent study suggests that drowsy driving can cause the same dangers as drinking and driving.
- Driving in unfamiliar areas: Depending on where a rideshare driver chooses to work, they may frequently find themselves driving in areas they aren’t familiar with. This requires extra skill and attention, which the rideshare driver might not have that much to spare, to begin with.
All of these actions point toward driver negligence. When a negligent driver causes an injury accident, those injured are entitled to compensation. A seasoned rideshare accident attorney can help them file a claim for that compensation.
Do Rideshare Drivers Have Insurance?
Being in an accident with a rideshare driver can cause confusion and disputes over whose insurance should cover the damages. Insurance coverage often depends on the status of the rideshare driver when the accident happened. If they used the rideshare platform, they likely have some coverage under that entity. If did not use the platform, their personal insurance should cover the damages. When you hire an attorney after a car accident, they can examine all the potential insurance policies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Liability in Rideshare Crashes
Determining liability for rideshare crashes can be extremely difficult in some instances. Disagreements over liability are common in any motor vehicle accident, but even more so in Uber/Lyft accidents because they involve so many insurance carriers and third parties.
When You Can Hold the Other Driver Liable
If the rideshare driver isn’t at fault for the car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is generally liable for the resulting damages. However, a seasoned Uber/Lyft accident lawyer understands that after the first insurance company, there might be other layers of insurance coverage that can maximize compensation for a rideshare accident victim.
In some cases, the rideshare driver isn’t at fault, and the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for the damages they caused. If this happens, the rideshare company usually provides additional uninsured motorist coverage to protect both their driver and the rideshare passenger.
When When You Can Hold the Rideshare Driver Liable
Suppose the Uber or Lyft driver is to blame for the crash. In that case, the rideshare driver’s individual insurance coverage will pay for injuries to any of their passengers. However, other drivers involved in an accident with a rideshare driver may or may not have their damages covered by the rideshare company. Liability will depend on whether the Uber or Lyft driver was logged into their app or on their way to pick up passengers.
If the rideshare driver wasn’t active on the rideshare platform, the other driver will need to file a claim with the private insurance company insuring the rideshare driver. If the driver was on duty, they can file a claim through the rideshare company’s auto insurance company.
Understanding Car Accident Damages
The value of your accident claim depends on your damages. Damages are the losses, inconveniences, and expenses you suffer from the accident. There are generally two types of damages; economic and non-economic.
Economic damages encompass all of your financial losses or expenses associated with your accident. They have a defined inherent value.
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damages
Non-economic damages are more difficult to value. They do not have a predetermined worth like a medical bill or lost wages do.
Non-economic damages are subjective and can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Your attorney can estimate your claim by reviewing your damages. They can account for each of your damages, fight for them during settlement negotiations, and, if necessary, explain them to a jury.
How Long Do I Have to File My Uber or Lyft Accident Claim?
Time is of the essence if you have suffered injuries in a rideshare vehicle accident. Each state has its own statute of limitations, providing injury victims a set number of years from the date of the accident to file an injury claim. In other words, if you are going to file an injury lawsuit, you have to do so within the deadline provided by the statute of limitations. If the deadline passes and you don’t file a claim, you will lose your legal right to do so.
It might seem like the statute of limitations provides a long time (typically between one and four years). However, waiting to reach out to a seasoned rideshare attorney can prove detrimental to your case. Your lawyer needs time to examine the facts of your accident and injuries and to conduct an investigation. They must abide by the standard and legal framework for requesting damage compensation after an injury accident. Attorneys need time to negotiate with those liable for your accident and their insurance companies. If they cannot obtain a fair settlement offer, they will file a lawsuit.
Even the best rideshare accident lawyers need as much time as possible between hiring and filing a lawsuit to prepare a substantial case like a rideshare accident claim. You can help them and help yourself by contacting them sooner rather than later after your rideshare accident.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Uber or Lyft
In some injury claims, it is necessary to file a lawsuit against Uber, Lyft, or other potentially liable parties.
For instance, litigation might be necessary for your claim if:
- The insurance policies are inadequate
- The insurance company fails to pay or refuses to offer a full and fair settlement
- The ridesharing company acted irresponsibly
A business is much more likely to be legally accountable for an employee’s acts than the acts of an independent contractor. Therefore, Uber and Lyft naturally attempt to distance themselves as much as they can from any accident liability by treating drivers as independent contractors.
As such, if you were a passenger in an Uber or Lyft rideshare vehicle or a motorist or passenger in another vehicle involved in a collision caused by a rideshare driver who was on duty at the time (either with passengers in their vehicle or on their way to pick up more riders), you will likely be limited to the rideshare companies’ liability insurance coverage or its uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
Some states honor the rideshare company’s independent contractor defense concerning ridesharing accidents, protecting companies like Uber and Lyft from direct responsibility for motor vehicle accidents their drivers cause.
Depending on the circumstances, those injured in these types of collisions might have a cause of action against the driver, and the driver’s insurance, up to and including the commercial and UIM coverage provided by Uber and Lyft. Unfortunately, in some states, the ridesharing companies themselves are generally safe behind the independent contractor defense.
When you hire a rideshare accident attorney to represent you after an Uber or Lyft accident, they will help you determine your next steps. Before starting litigation, they will attempt to negotiate a full and fair settlement with all potentially liable parties. If the responsible parties are unwilling to offer you such a settlement, you can decide whether you want to take your claim to court. If litigation becomes necessary, your lawyer will help you through every step of the process.
Protect Your Rights After a Rideshare Accident
Any type of car accident can be extremely shocking and even disorienting. When you are riding in a stranger’s car and are paying for your ride, it can be even more confusing and unnerving. The steps you take immediately after and even several months into the future can significantly impact the compensation you receive for your injuries. A well-versed rideshare accident lawyer can help you take every necessary action to ensure the integrity of your claim after an accident.
Seek Medical Attention
First, seek medical attention if you suffered an injury, suspect you have suffered an injury, or don’t feel right. Not only is this a good move for your health, but it also protects your rights. If you have injuries, you want to create a medical record of them as soon as possible. Finally, be sure to follow all the advice and instructions from your medical care providers to mitigate your damages.
File a Police Report
Even if no one appears injured in the accident, it’s always prudent to call the police. The responding officers can investigate the accident, gather information, and create a report. You can provide your account of the accident, and the officer can also interview any available witnesses. The rideshare company, your lawyer, insurance adjusters, and any other interested parties will refer to this report to determine liability and what happened to cause the accident.
Report the Accident in the Uber or Lyft App
When you are able, make a report of the accident in your Uber or Lyft app. Keep in mind that the rideshare or insurance company can use anything you say against you. Don’t provide any recorded statements about the crash until you have talked to a knowledgeable rideshare accident attorney.
Did You Suffer Injuries in an Uber or Lyft Accident? Contact a Skilled Rideshare Accident Attorney Today
Suppose you or someone you love recently sustained an injury in a rideshare accident. In that case, you probably have many questions and concerns. Don’t hesitate to call a skilled rideshare accident attorney.
Being in an accident with a rideshare vehicle, whether you are a passenger or another driver, can be quite shocking and confusing. The good news is that there are laws to protect you if you are in an Uber/Lyft or other rideshare car accident. However, you also must adequately preserve your rights, or they may be lost. The first step in safeguarding those rights is to contact a rideshare accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
A Denver personal injury law firm‘s attorney can help determine who is liable for your accident and which insurance policies you can seek compensation from. Finally, they can tell you how much your claim might be worth and protect you from insurance adjusters who want you to settle for anything less.