Ridesharing is still a relatively new industry; Uber has existed for a little over a decade, and Lyft for even less time than that. But in that time, ridesharing has become a part of daily life for people across the country. There are, of course, so many benefits to this new ease of transportation: safer options for getting home after drinking, the ability to summon a ride directly to your door, the ability to travel without owning a car. But with all of these benefits, there are also setbacks and risks.
Like all methods of road travel, rideshares can pose safety risks In a 2019 safety report, Uber reported 97 fatal crashes and a total of 107 deaths in 2017 and 2018 combined. It’s important to note that that number does not include any mention of non-fatal car accidents; in fact, many rideshare companies are hedgy about offering car accident statistics.
If you or a loved one has been in a rideshare accident, know that you are not alone. Accidents of all kinds are incredibly overwhelming and traumatizing experiences, and one that involves a rideshare may be even more so. You may not be sure who’s at fault, what the rideshare company is responsible for, or who to turn to for help. We are here to answer all of those questions and more, and to guide you through the process of seeking justice and compensation. Read on to learn what your rights are in a rideshare accident, and how your Giddens rideshare accident lawyer can help protect them.
Who is At Fault in a Rideshare Accident?
When two passenger vehicles collide in a car accident, there’s always a question of fault: who is responsible for causing this accident? But this question immediately becomes more complicated when a rideshare vehicle is involved. It’s not merely a question of which car and driver is at fault, but whether it’s the individual rideshare driver or the rideshare company as a whole that bears responsibility for the car accident.
Most rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, attempt to skirt this issue by treating their drivers as independent contractors and not full time employees. This is often used by the company as a tool to avoid taking responsibility for accidents. Of course, the question of who is liable in a given accident depends greatly on the specifics of the car accident.
Was one driver distracted, under the influence, or exhibiting signs of reckless driving? Was someone speeding? Insurance adjusters will examine an accident in great detail in order to reach a conclusion about who is at fault; in some cases, fault may be shared between multiple drivers. It’s also possible for fault to belong to a third party other than the company; for instance, if a car accident occurs due to a mechanical issue with the vehicle, it’s possible for the auto manufacturer to be held responsible.
Your lawyer will also review your rideshare accident case in order to determine fault. If you and your rideshare accident lawyer disagree with the insurance adjusters’ ruling, you may petition for it to be overturned.
What Happens if the Rideshare Driver is Responsible?
Most rideshare companies have insurance policies in place to cover instances when an Uber or Lyft driver is responsible for a rideshare accident. However, the degree of coverage depends on the context of the accident and at what point in the journey the accident occurred. Uber and Lyft use the following models:
- If the Uber or Lyft driver has not switched the app into the “on” mode to accept rides and they cause an accident, their own insurance company is responsible for the claim. This is true even if the driver left the house with the intent of offering rides, but had not yet turned on that setting on the app.
- If the driver is switched on to accept rides but does not currently have one accepted, their own insurance applies first, plus additional coverage from Uber or Lyft if needed. This includes:
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
- If the driver has a passenger or is en route to pick up a passenger, all accidents are covered by Uber or Lyft’s insurance policy. This includes:
- $1,000,000 third-party liability
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and/or first-party injury insurance
- Contingent comprehensive and collision
- Up to actual cash value of car with a $2,500 deductible
How Can a Rideshare Accident Attorney Help?
It is notoriously difficult to access the insurance coverage that many large rideshare companies carry for their drivers. These companies have powerful legal teams and a huge amount of resources, and they will use all of this to fight liability and avoid admitting fault in an accident. If you try to face these corporations alone, they may bully or pressure you into accepting less than you deserve.
It’s also possible for the doctor from their insurance company to try and underplay your injuries, or insist you’re able to work long before you are. This can impact whether or not your medical bills are covered, what percentage of your lost wages are covered, and more. In short, trying to tackle this alone — navigating Uber or Lyfts legal teams, gathering evidence, talking to insurance adjustors — can actually cost you a great deal of compensation, not to mention put a great deal of stress on your shoulders.
But working with experienced rideshare accident attorneys, like those at Giddens law, means you can rest easy knowing someone is fighting on your behalf. We have extensive experience handling these kinds of cases, and will fight tirelessly to secure you the justice and compensation you so deserve.
What Do I Do After a Rideshare Accident?
As with all accidents, your first priority should be your own health and safety. You should seek medical attention if you need it, and remember, the adrenaline that comes from an accident can often mask injuries that you would otherwise notice. Keep an eye out in the hours and days after a Uber or Lyft accident for any injuries that may appear.
You should also call police to the scene immediately experiencing a rideshare accident. Once the police arrive, they will file a report that will serve as the official record of what happened. Insurance company investigators will then use that report as their baseline when determining liability. In some cases, the police may include their assessment of fault in the report, which can be of great use to you later as you seek compensation and coverage.
Even if the police are documenting the scene, it’s wise to document it yourself as well. You can take pictures of the accident, take down the information of any and all drivers involved, and talk to witnesses to get their account of what happened. Evidence of weather, traffic conditions, and the placement of the vehicles at the scene can also be useful.
You should also report the accident to the rideshare company as soon as you can. If there is no formal record of you reporting the accident to the company, or fi you wait too long to do so, they may use this as a reason to attempt to deny you coverage under their insurance policy.
Remember that after any accident, you may be contacted by insurance adjusters. Even if they seem personable and friendly, they do not work for you, they work for their company, and their goal is to pay out as little as possible. Anything you say can be twisted by them and used to deny you coverage. For this reason, it’s always best to funnel all interactions with insurance companies through a lawyer.
Contact a Giddens Law Firm attorney as soon as you can after your rideshare accident. Our rideshare accident lawyers will fight hard to maximize your compensation and ensure you don’t accept an offer that’s lower than what you deserve.
What Kind of Injuries Commonly Occur as a Result of These Accidents?
As with all car accidents, there are a wide range of injuries that may occur in an Uber or Lyft accident.
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Loss of a limb
- Traumatic brain injuries
Of course, the damages that can occur as a result of a rideshare accident are not strictly physical. They can be psychological, emotional, and mental as well as physical. Research has shown that car accidents can lead to long lasting PTSD, anxiety, depression, and phobias. Emotional distress that requires therapeutic treatment is also common.
What if the Damages Exceed Uber’s Coverage?
In very extreme cases, the damages and cost of personal injury to the passenger may be in excess of one million, therefore surpassing the insurance coverage the rideshare company offers. If this is the case, you do have the right to pursue legal action against the company via a personal injury suit. This is a complex pursuit; as discussed above, Uber’s drivers are technically “independent contractors”, which means Uber as a company does not assume responsibility for their actions or negligence. But complex as these cases may be, they are absolutely worth considering as a course of action.
In a case where you are seeking compensation that exceeds the insurance cover the rideshare company offers, you may need to file a personal injury suit or a property damage suit.
Unfortunately, there are many devastating horror stories about individuals who have sought fair compensation from Uber after an accident and have been either denied or shortchanged. That is why you need a motor vehicle accident lawyer who can help guide you through the process and offer reliable and sound legal advice.
Can I Sue a Rideshare Company?
You may wish to sue the rideshare company after an accident, but there are some limitations on when it’s possible to do so. The bigger companies have found ways to inulate themselves from lawsuits, primarily through categorizing their drivers as independent contractors rather than full time employees. This means that the company is not necessarily responsible for an individual driver’s actions. However, there are cases in which suing the rideshare company itself is possible.
The primary occasion in which this would be an option is if the company actually exhibited some sort of demonstrable negligence. For example, all rideshare companies have an obligation to hire safe and responsible drivers, and most companies require background checks for all of their drivers prior to employment.
If you were in an accident in which the rideshare driver was at fault, and then learned that the rideshare company never performed a background check on this individual, you may have grounds to sue, particularly if that driver has a history of reckless driving or DUIs. You may also be able to sue if you can prove that the rideshare company did perform a background check, and hired the driver despite finding something troubling there.
Suing a rideshare company is incredibly complicated, and it’s heavily advised that you work with a lawyer if it’s a path you wish to pursue. Your lawyer can weigh in on whether you have a case on your hands, and if so, can help you gather evidence and build a solid foundation for your claim. Contact us at Giddens Law Firm today for a free initial consultation.
Why Giddens Law Firm?
Giddens Law Firm is one of the premier personal injury firms in the state of Mississippi. Led by John D. Giddens, an exceptional attorney with decades of experience, Giddens Law Firm prioritizes a balance of speed and thoroughness; our rideshare accident lawyers approach each case with an ideology of diligence and attention to detail, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks as we fight to protect your interests. Our reviews and credentials speak for themselves, and we have helped countless victims achieve the justice and compensation they are owed.
Every case we take on receives a thorough investigation and a tireless work ethic. What’s more, when you work with us, you don’t need to worry about racking up legal fees you can’t afford. We always discuss fees up front, so there are no mystery costs. Your consultation is always free, and we do not get paid unless you win.
We believe all victims of rideshare accidents deserve justice. The laws around this sector are always changing, and you want someone in your corner who is up to date on the latest information and the very best ways to help you. At Giddens Law Firm, we aim to provide exactly that. Please do not hesitate to reach out for a free initial consultation.