There was a time when you called a taxi if you needed a ride to get somewhere. Times are changing though, and taxis are no longer the only option. Riders now have a choice, and many are opting for app-based ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. These companies are not only changing transportation, they are changing the way auto insurance works as well. The way these companies work has become known as a special category of transportation called ridesharing.
As ridesharing has gained popularity over the past few years, lawmakers have had to step up and create laws that cover the unique circumstances that these services present. This can leave passengers (or anyone else involved in an Uber or Lyft accident) somewhat confused, wondering who is responsible in a car accident when they are riding with Uber or Lyft.
When these vehicles are involved in an accident, it’s not the same as when two regular passenger vehicles have a problem. Circumstances for everyone involved; passengers, drivers, and even pedestrians or bicyclists are different. These services sit somewhere in the middle of professional service and a private citizen driving their own car.
When someone is involved in a rideshare accident, they’re often confused about what their next step should be and where to start. Do accident victims need to deal with the drivers, the companies, or both? And how does the process even work?
If you’ve been involved in an Uber accident, you have all the same rights to file injury and damage claims just as you would in any other accident. It’s important, though, that you speak with an accident attorney familiar with the differences between a straight accident case and an accident claim involving an uber vehicle.
Even though the rideshare companies carry plenty of insurance coverage, you can surely understand that they’re not just going to hand over their money because you file a personal injury claim against them. They are large companies, with large and experienced legal teams. You need to make sure that you work with a law firm and personal injury lawyer that knows how to deal with these companies and the tactics their legal departments will use against you.
Just like any other motorist, Uber and Lyft drivers must have specific liability coverage in order to drive. Under Maryland law, all drivers are required to carry a minimum level of coverage and are responsible for purchasing their own insurance in order to be able to drive. The minimum insurance coverage that is required for every driver in the state is 30/60/15, or $30,000 bodily injury per person, $60,000 per accident for two or more people, and $15,000 property damage.
In fact, rideshare service drivers require special rideshare insurance to be able to legally provide their services at all. If there is an accident while one of these drivers is working, it will not be the rideshare driver’s own personal liability insurance that covers any damages, it will be the rideshare insurance purchased by the driver or the company they are working for. The driver’s insurance will only provide coverage when the vehicle is being used for personal reasons.
Commercial drivers are typically covered by the insurance policy their employer carries. However, Uber and Lyft drivers have a unique work situation. They drive their vehicles for personal use but also drive the for work. They are not considered to be employees. They are independent contractors. This means that different insurance policies cover their vehicle depending on whether they are on duty or off duty.
The driver may have his or her own insurance for when they are driving their vehicle for personal reasons, but receive coverage from the ridesharing companies when they are working. Some drivers also have a single two-in-one type of insurance policy that provides the necessary coverage for both situations.
Regulations can change the exact insurance coverage between different states and locales, but, at a minimum, Uber’s insurance and company policies provide the following coverage to protect both drivers and Uber passengers:
Lyft maintains similar insurance and policies for their drivers and passengers.
Accidents happen, even to Uber drivers and Lyft drivers. In fact, statistically speaking, drivers for rideshare companies are more likely to get in an accident simply because they are spending more time behind the wheel than regular drivers.
Rideshare drivers are also more likely to get into an accident because of what’s come to be known as distracted driving. Their job revolves around checking the Uber app of the Lyft app on the screen of their smartphone (or another mobile device) to see if there are passengers available, to follow directions to an address, receiving messages while they’re en route, and for other reasons.
When they reach a destination to pick someone up, they may also get distracted as they begin looking around, trying to find the passenger that sent the ride request. Even if they’re moving slow, they can easily bump into other cars or injure a pedestrian or bicyclist because they weren’t paying enough attention to the street in front of them. Even slow-moving vehicles can cause serious injuries.
A driver could also be in an unfamiliar place at the time of the accident. Some passengers may request to be picked up or dropped off in a place where the driver has never been. The driver may not be aware of sudden turns, unusual traffic patterns, or other hazards that locals pass through every day without a second thought.
If you are a third-party motorist involved in an accident with a Lyft or Uber rideshare driver, and especially if you were in need of any medical attention, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the company, the driver of the car, or both.
It’s also extremely important to contact the police from the scene of the accident and make sure that a police report is filed. If you speak with a car accident lawyer and have a police report stating that a Lyft or Uber driver was at fault in an accident, you have much higher chances of a successful claim.
If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft and the driver gets into an accident, both the driver and the company may be held liable. You may have physical injuries that incur expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and future medical costs. Pain and suffering may also be involved. You would need to file a claim with the rideshare company’s insurance as soon as possible.
Rideshare situations are unique and very complex from a legal standpoint. While the company insurance for Uber or Lyft does provide coverage while the car is on duty, the drivers are still independent contractors. They are not actual company employees. This means that the insurance coverage from the rideshare company can have certain limitations. For instance, if the driver was acting recklessly and caused an accident intentionally (i.e. road rage), or if they were driving under the influence (DUI), it could cause the claim to be denied. In that case, a claim would need to be filed against the actual driver.
If you’re involved in any type of accident with Lyft or Uber, no matter if you were a passenger, another driver, or a pedestrian, there are several things you should do to improve the chances of filing a successful claim against either the driver or the company they are working for.
Even if the accident seems minor, don’t let the other driver talk you out of calling the police. You should call 911 immediately and request the presence of the police to be sure they can investigate the circumstances and file a proper police report of the incident.
As a passenger, you should ask the driver for their license, insurance, and registration information. If you are another driver, you should exchange this information with the rideshare driver and any other driver that might have been involved. If anyone refuses to give you their information, you should simply wait for the police to arrive and they will be able to help you get the information you need.
If possible, take photos of everything you can think of at the accident scene. Take pictures of the car(s), specific damage to the vehicles, any injuries you or anyone else has sustained, damage to property, marks on the roadway, etc. You should, of course, make sure you are standing in a safe place as you take pictures, but get as many pictures as you can. You never know what might turn out to be the proof that you need to make your case. The more visual information you have, the more your lawyer will have to work with.
If you (or anyone else involved) have sustained serious injuries, you should request an ambulance for medical treatment at the same time when you call 911 to request the presence of the police.
Even if you think you only have minor injuries, or perhaps none at all, you should still see a doctor and get a full medical report of your examination. Some injuries can seem almost insignificant at first and develop into something much more serious over the next few days or weeks. It can be difficult to prove that these “delayed onset” injuries were caused in the accident if you haven’t been examined by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident occurs.
Filing a personal injury claim against Uber or Lyft can be a complex process that will take a lot of work and time, but it can be summed up fairly simply.
First, we’ll ask you to come in too our office for a free and confidential consultation with as much information as you have about the accident and any medical treatments you’ve received since then. We’ll go over the information, photos, and reports together and we’ll discuss the possible first steps we can take. We’ll give you a complete case evaluation and determine whether or not it looks like your claim will hold up if it’s filed.
If we think your case looks like it’s worth pursuing, we’ll discuss some of the first steps we can take to get things underway and give you our honest legal advice for your particular case.
We’ll conduct our own investigation of the incident, have experts review the available information and evidence, and start putting together our plan to move forward. We’ll file the personal injury claim on your behalf and the official legal process will begin.
There will be plenty of paperwork sent back and forth as well as talks and negotiations with insurance companies and the opposing legal team. We’ll take care of all of the “heavy lifting” but we’ll always keep you informed of what is going on and where we are in the process. Whenever we come to a fork in the road, the decision on which way to go will be up to you.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to negotiate a settlement between you and the insurance company that makes both sides happy, but we’ll be ready to go to court if we have to as well. If we can’t come to a settlement agreement, our team has the experience needed and is fully ready to take the case to court.
In court, we will present a concrete case using all of the evidence we have at our disposal and take advantage of expert witnesses to help prove that the other side is liable for the injuries and damages you have suffered. Once both sides have made their arguments, a jury will decide the outcome of the case and you’ll know the result as soon as they make their decision.
To put it in the simplest terms, we will do everything within our power to defend your legal rights and make sure that you receive the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and a rideshare vehicle was involved, you need an experienced personal injury attorney in your corner fighting for your rights. You can bet that a company like Uber or Lyft will have an entire legal team working for them.
At DuBoff and Associates, we have the experience and knowledge to handle these complex rideshare cases. Contact us online anytime or call us at 866-461-9330 for a free consultation. We’ll walk through your case with you, give you honest, direct feedback, and make our recommendations on how to proceed. We care, and we want to see you on the road to recovery. Let us handle the insurance company; you concentrate on healing.Filed Under: