PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
Uber & Lyft Rideshare Accidents Lawyer in California
Rideshare companies, like Uber and Lyft, have become a significant part of the mainstream transportation network. The ease of ordering a ride through a smartphone has made Uber and Lyft a more attractive service over taxis. Pricing through Uber and Lyft also tends to be cheaper than taxis, which has contributed to its growing popularity. Even though there are some instances when the demand for rides increase and a “surge” price may boost the fare rate, rideshares have become dominant players in the transportation sector.
Anyone who takes advantage of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft should know their rights in the event of an accident. Liability may not be immediately clear. A California rideshare accident attorney can be a helpful asset when determining your legal options after a rideshare accident, whether you were hit by an Uber or Lyft driver or using one of these services as a passenger. It’s also vital for drivers who work for Uber and Lyft to know their rights and responsibilities in terms of accident coverage.
What’s the difference between a rideshare and a taxi?
The most obvious difference between rideshares and taxi companies is the way a car is hailed. For taxis, you can simply stand on a sidewalk, or in line at an airport, and hail a taxi. Once you’ve arrived at your destination you pay with cash or credit card for you ride. Rideshares operate differently. In order to “hail” an Uber or Lyft you need to use an app to call a driver. Also, your credit card is on file with the app and payment is handled through the app.
Another difference is the way that taxi companies and rideshares “hire” their drivers. A taxi is owned, inspected, and maintained by a taxi company and leased to a driver. A city or county usually maintains regulations on taxis and their drivers. A taxi driver is also typically required to have a special type of driver’s license.
Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors who use their personal vehicles and charge fees. Unless the rideshare driver has a commercial policy, the driver’s personal policy will not cover accidents. That’s because most typical insurance policies only cover the car during personal use. Ridesharing is not personal use. For that reason, if an accident happens, the driver’s insurance will likely deny the claim.
Uber and Lyft Drivers and Car Insurance
California law requires that rideshare drivers have additional insurance. However, those requirements only become active when a driver turns on the app. Both Uber and Lyft have adopted similar insurance policies which depend on when the accident occurs.
- Period 0: If the driver is not logged onto the Uber/Lyft app, then Uber/Lyft does not provide any coverage. In this situation, the driver is acting as a private person and their driving is unrelated to their status as a contractor for the rideshare company.
- Period 1: If the driver is logged onto the Uber/Lyft app, but has not yet accepted a ride request, Uber/Lyft provides liability coverage for their driver if the driver’s personal insurance does not fully cover the amount of the claim. Uber/Lyft provide up to $50,000 per person injured and $100,000 total injury liability per accident, and $25,000 total property damage.
- Period 2: Once the driver has accepted a trip and is driving to pick up that rider, liability increases to $1 million.
- Period 3: If the rider is in the car, liability coverage is up to $1 million, plus limited coverage for damage to the driver’s car and uninsured motorists’ coverage.
If you experience a rideshare accident, expect the rideshare company’s insurance representative to investigate the accident to determine coverage eligibility under the rideshare company’s insurance policy. If the accident satisfies the criteria of one of the aforementioned periods, the respective coverage limits take effect.
When are rideshare drivers liable?
If you were injured in a rideshare accident as a passenger, you would handle that accident like any other personal injury case. That means that the injured party must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty is some way, and directly caused damages.
Since rideshare drivers are independent contractors, they absorb liability for damages that exceed the scope of available coverage through the rideshare company. If a rideshare driver causes an accident while the rideshare company’s insurance does not apply, the driver is personally liable for the damages from the accident.
The issue of vicarious liability does not always come into play with rideshare accident cases as it does with common carrier and commercial truck accident cases. In those situations, drivers are hired employees performing job duties. Since rideshare drivers are independent contractors, the rules are a little different. However, a rideshare company could absorb liability for an accident if it is discovered that the company failed to conduct an appropriate screening process on the driver responsible for the accident in question.
WHY DO I NEED A LAWYER?
Navigating any type of personal injury claim without legal representation is unwise. You may make procedural errors or miss court filing deadlines, jeopardizing your case. You may also overlook valuable avenues of compensation that an experienced attorney wouldn’t miss. Ultimately, hiring a California rideshare accident attorney to represent your case is an investment in peace of mind.
Your attorney can handle correspondence with insurance claim adjusters and rideshare company representatives. An experienced California rideshare accident lawyer can also negotiate with an at-fault driver and their legal representation to reach a settlement after a rideshare accident in which the rideshare company’s insurance does not apply, or only applies partially. When insurance is not enough to fully compensate your losses, the right attorney can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your recovery.
POTENTIAL DAMAGES FROM A RIDESHARE ACCIDENT CLAIM
If you and your California rideshare accident attorney succeed with your claim, you could secure compensation for the various losses you sustained from the accident. This can include compensation for your medical expenses, both current and future. If your injuries require future medical attention, you can claim their projected costs as damages in your lawsuit.
Any car accident could potentially hurt you enough to force you to miss work. If you are unable to work due to your injuries, you can claim compensation for wages lost in recovery. Should your injuries cause a permanent disability that leaves you unable to work, you can recover compensation for the future income you would have reasonably anticipated to earn had your accident not occurred. Lost income can potentially form a substantial portion of the damages available from a rideshare accident claim.
California law also allows personal injury plaintiffs to receive compensation for intangible losses like pain and suffering. If you suffered a painful injury, dealt with pain during your recovery, and experienced trauma from a rideshare accident, your California rideshare accident attorney can help you secure compensation for these intangible losses.
PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND COMPARATIVE FAULT
Punitive damages come into play in civil lawsuits when a judge determines that a defendant’s behavior exceeds the definition of general negligence, or that the defendant’s behavior was knowingly harmful. Punitive damages reflect the wealth of the defendant and the severity of their actions. California law allows judges to set an amount for punitive damages with no upper limit, and these damages are paid alongside the plaintiff’s other compensatory damages.
In terms of factors that might diminish a plaintiff’s case award, California has a pure comparative negligence statute. If a plaintiff bears any fault for causing the damages they claim in a lawsuit, the plaintiff will likely lose a percentage of those damages to reflect their fault. It’s not uncommon for defendants in personal injury claims to attempt to use comparative negligence as a defense for their actions, and a good attorney can help their client overcome these disputes and disprove comparative negligence claims, if necessary.
If you are concerned about comparative negligence coming into play in your rideshare accident claim, talk with us. Your California rideshare accident attorney will help you determine what level of fault you bear for your damages, if any, and form a solid defense that aims to maximize your recovery despite any alleged comparative fault.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR LAWSUIT
A rideshare accident claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit, and your case should proceed in line with most personal injury claims. You should first attempt to recover your losses through available insurance, whether it is the policy of a rideshare company or the at-fault driver in your accident. If insurance is not available or insufficient for your needs, a California rideshare accident lawyer will help you draft a Complaint against the defendant responsible for your damages. Once you file this Complaint with the courthouse, they will serve a copy of the Complaint to the defendant. This is the point at which settlement negotiations typically begin.
The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims settle outside of court. It is almost always in the best interests of all parties involved in a personal injury claim to settle the matter as quickly as possible. This allows the plaintiff to obtain recovery much sooner and address their mounting financial issues and allows the defendant to put the issue behind them without fear of future legal action from the plaintiff. During settlement negotiations, the parties involved in the case and their legal representatives will negotiate an agreement. If they reach a mutual understanding, the case can end there. If the defendant contests liability or the two sides simply cannot reach an agreement, the case will move to litigation and trial.
If you are expecting to participate in a rideshare accident lawsuit anytime in the near future, it’s essential to have experienced legal representation on your side, even if you think your claim is straightforward. Rideshare accidents are often more complex than regular car accidents. If you were injured in a rideshare accident, experienced personal injury attorney Christopher Kreeger. For a complimentary consultation of your case, contact us today at (916) 782-8400.