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Uber and Lyft Accidents

The Rise of Ridesharing

Apps such as Uber and Lyft have allowed customers to rideshare vehicles, which benefits consumers for increased convenience, greater transportation affordability, and improved technological advances in commuter options. However, unlike cab drivers who undergo hours of training and many years of background checks, the reality of rideshare drivers is that they can operate as a provider of a service for which they have far less training and that can sometimes lower the quality of the available drivers, leading to accidents.

The Truth about Rideshare Insurance

Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft require all active drivers to have personal car insurance compliant with state minimums, at the least, or potentially exceeding minimums for liability coverage. However, a ridesharing driver's personal policy typically will not offer coverage should an accident occur when they are providing rideshare services. So who is supposed to cover an accident for ridesharing? This responsibility is going to lie more with the ridesharing service itself. Uber and Lyft offer liability coverage for their drivers.

The State of California and Ridesharing Accidents

Sometimes, the ridesharing trip requested via Uber and Lyft in California will fall under the Transportation Network Company or TNC. TNC organizes rides between passengers and rideshare drivers using their own personal cars. Each TNC is expected to have an active insurance policy providing a minimum of one million dollar per-incident coverage for crashes involving vehicles and drivers while they are supplying TNC services.

Here are some typical scenarios where a rideshare service will offer coverage:

  • If the rideshare driver is currently logged into the app and actively completing a ride, Uber and Lyft can provide liability coverage, up to $1 million.
  • If the rideshare driver is logged in, but not actively participating in a rideshare request, Uber or Lyft will offer some coverage. This includes $50,000 per person injured and $25,000 for property damages.
  • If the rideshare driver is not logged into the app, the Uber or Lyft service will not provide coverage.
  • If the rideshare driver carries commercial insurance, which is not typically the case, Uber and Lyft will default to that coverage first and will then review if they need to pay out anything further.

Examples of Ridesharing Accidents

  • Uber or Lyft collide with another car
  • Uber or Lyft hit a pedestrian
  • Uber or Lyft collide with a bike
  • Uber or Lyft hit a commercial vehicle
  • Uber or Lyft cause an accident with a government vehicle.

What to do if You Experience a Ridesharing Accident

Get Medical Attention

Sometimes an injury does not show up right away. However, we still recommend you get help right away. That way, it can affirm there were no pre-existing factors that can be blamed for the accident injuries which may manifest later. Also, having a medical record from the accident is excellent documentation you may need for both your insurance claim and for your attorney, should you decide to hire one.

File a Police Report

A police report will be excellent documentation and show that you want to keep accurate records of the incident. This will also be important for insurance companies and medical records and if you decide to pursue legal action.

File an Incident Report With Uber or Lyft

You can do this right on the app, which sounds convenient but be prepared; the app will try very hard to diminish their liability. Many times they will try to blame the driver, the passenger, and outside variables. However, it is still important to show you made a good faith effort to resolve the incident with the company. Keep the report brief and factual, and we recommend offering to speak with representatives. Never offer information that could be seen as admitting fault. We advise you to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Case Law

Complexities exist with rideshare cases. Liability and insurance coverage factors vary based on certain factors about a driver’s activities.

These factors include:

  • Whether the driver was logged in to the app
  • Whether a trip had been accepted
  • If the driver was on their way to picking up a passenger
  • If the driver was in the process of transporting a passenger to their destination

Because these cases can quickly get complex, and often involve dealing with both insurance companies and the rideshare company, having expert and knowledgeable legal counsel goes a long way.

Important Things to Consider

As in other cases, comparative negligence is applicable for rideshare accidents under California law. This means that multiple parties may be considered at fault for the accident, including the injured party. The consequences of comparative negligence mean that your settlement could be reduced. Fault is determined on a percentage basis, so the amount of fault of each party is determined. Then, once the percentage of fault for each party is determined, the settlement award is then divided by fault.

For example, let’s say a rideshare accident received a settlement award of $100,000 and comparative negligence was found among driver, rideshare company, and passenger (the injured party bringing forth the complaint). Each party is given a percentage of fault: 45% for the driver, 40% for the rideshare company, and 15% for the passenger. The end result would be that the passenger would receive monetary damages in the amount of $85,000 rather than the full $100,000.

Important Legislation

Because ridesharing is still generally new, the laws around it can still seem very confusing.

Injury claims from accidents are not the only legal complaints that can be or have been filed against ridesharing companies. Any accident or crime that takes place within ridesharing vehicles, or by ridesharing company drivers or employees, can be pursued for legal reparations. These potential lawsuits can be for: accidents, assault, battery, or sexual assault. Also, drivers of ridesharing companies can also seek damages if they experienced working conditions that violated the California codes for conditions of employment.

Rideshare Accident Trends

A pedestrian was struck and killed in 2013 by a ridesharing driver. The family of the deceased brought forth a legal claim against the ridesharing company, who tried to deny their fault. Their claim was that because the driver was not actively transporting a passenger they were not at fault and only the driver was to blame. However, the cause of the driver’s distraction was looking for their next passenger on the ridesharing app and eventually the ridesharing company settled with the family for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is at Fault for a Ridesharing Accident?

Fault is ultimately determined after investigation of an accident. However, generally speaking, a driver is considered at fault when their passenger is injured, or when another driver is injured. There is also the possibility for more than one party to be found at fault.

What Should I do Immediately After a Ridesharing Accident?

Keep records of everything as best you can. Take pictures of the accident scene if possible, and if doing so does not interfere with an official police investigation. Seek immediate medical attention in order to begin documenting your injuries sustained from the accident.

Isn’t a Ridesharing Accident Just Like a Regular Vehicle Accident?

Unfortunately, no. The insurance and laws surrounding rideshare services get more complex because there are elements of business and personal injury combined in the accident scenario.

What Action can I Take if my Rideshare Driver Commits a Crime?

If you are either the witness or victim of a crime committed by a rideshare driver, then you have cause for a legal case against that driver and potentially other parties, including the ridesharing company. In certain circumstances, passengers may be able to sue for damages that include lost wages, psychological distress, wrongful death, and others. Certain legal codes may also hold the company responsible for the driver’s actions.

What Kind of Employees are Rideshare Drivers?

Rideshare drivers are considered independent contractors. By doing so, the ridesharing companies limit their liability. However, the California Labor Commission ruled that rideshare drivers are employees and, although not yet binding by a court decree, this holds them liable to certain protections and responsibilities.

How an Attorney can Help

The laws vary from state to state on accidents, especially for ridesharing accidents. Also, California can be highly complex for liabilities. Bridgewater Law Group is certified by the State Bar of California and understands the right legal maneuvers. We can help. We are well-versed in Los Angeles area accidents, road conditions, and how to approach corporations and insurance companies. We know how to get a high settlement, not just settling.

Find out if You Have a Case

Call us for a free consultation, no risk to you. We will work on a contingency basis, no fee if we do not win for you!

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We serve clients throughout California including, but not limited to, those in the following localities: Los Angeles County including Calabasas, Downey, East Los Angeles, Glendale, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier; Orange County including Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Orange, and Santa Ana; Riverside County including Corona, Murrieta, Riverside, and Temecula; and San Bernardino County including Fontana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Victorville.

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