What Happens if You are in a Car Accident with a Taxi or Ridesharing Service?

  • January 15, 2019
  • Blog

Ride sharing continues to grow in popularity.

According to surveys, around a third of all Americans have used a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft. Consumers love their convenience and generally low prices, which typically beat the prices charged by taxis. Many experts have forecast that ridesharing use will continue to grow in the future.

With so many taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts on the road, they are bound to get into accidents. Whether you were injured after being struck by an taxi, Uber or Lyft driver, or you hurt while riding as a passenger, you can potentially receive compensation for your injuries.

Due to the additional parties involved in these types of crashes, they are a little more complicated than a typical accident.

In this guide, our experienced Carlsbad Uber and Lyft accident attorneys walk you through the different scenarios and steps for receiving compensation after a ridesharing accident.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE IN A CAR ACCIDENT WITH A TAXI?

We want to discuss two different scenarios here. The first is if you are a passenger in a taxicab, while the second is if you were the driver of the other vehicle. For this article, we assume you are not at fault for the accident.

A Taxi Hits Your Car

Like any other car accident, you need to prove the cab is liable in the case. However, because taxis use a car as their primary means of making money, they are more apt to fight the settlement longer and harder than a traditional driver.

Also, many taxis use the taxi company’s insurance. It adds another layer of bureaucracy in your lawsuit.

Working with a taxi company to recover your funds takes time and effort.

For example, Scott Van Maldegiam shared an interesting story about a cab that hit his car. The damage was minimal, and no one was hurt. The unusual thing was the cab driver got out of the car, checked out the accident, and then drove off from the scene of the crash.

Fortunately, Scott got the cab driver’s license number as well as the testimony of the witness to the crash.

He added this information to the police report. He used the police report to file a complaint about the taxi company and driver with the city and to have the taxi company pay for the damage to his car.

However, it is a lot of back and forth to get this done. That is why if you are busy, it is best to let a professional do this. Do you want to spend your entire day tracking down reports and other papers?

A Passenger Injured By a Taxi

While the liability of the case might vary, you can file a third-party car insurance claim against the taxi driver and another driver. Let the insurance companies sort out the liability.

California is an at-fault state, which makes at least one party responsible for the accident and your claim. Until then you are caught in a game of chicken between the parties and insurance companies until everything gets sorted.

The challenge is many insurance companies hem and haw until the last minute to pay a suit. Alternatively, they might try and convince the other insurance company to pay more of the settlement. That way, they spend less money on the claim.

Passengers get caught in the middle of this game of chicken. The other component here is their delay tactics discourage some passengers from waiting for the settlement money.

Finally, too many passengers in the settlement dilute the monies you receive. At this point, if you want to recoup the entire amount, you need to go after the taxi driver and company.

The odds of not finding having adequate funds is low though. For example, San Diego requires a $350,000 minimum liability policy for all taxicab companies. Based on the actuarial analysis, 99.61% of all crashes cost less.

THE STRESS ENDS HERE.

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WHAT HAPPENS IF AN UBER OR LYFT HITS YOU?

With so many Ubers and Lyfts on the road, they are bound to get into accidents. Whether you were injured while riding as a passenger or if you were struck by an Uber or Lyft driver, you can possibly receive compensation for your injuries.

Our experienced Carlsbad Uber & Lyft accident attorneys will explain what you should do.

Document the Accident

California is a tort state in which drivers who cause accidents pay money to injured victims. This rule applies whether you are a pedestrian, a passenger in a Lyft or Uber, or another motorist who is struck by a ride sharing driver.

The legal term for responsibility is “fault,” and insurers will not pay you compensation unless they are convinced that their insured is to blame for the collision.

Remember to get the following evidence after an accident:

  • Take photographs of the vehicles involved in the collision. Zoom in so that you capture where the vehicle struck you.
  • If possible, take at least one picture of where the vehicles ended up after the crash but before they are moved to the side of the road.
  • Obtain the names and contact information for any witnesses who can explain how the accident happened.
  • Get the insurance information for all driver’s involved. If you were a passenger in an Uber or Lyft, this will include the information from your driver
  • Contact the police. An officer will write a police report, which can prove helpful when making your claim.

You can also document an uber accident by getting to the hospital and receiving prompt medical attention. Your medical records can also serve as proof of how the accident happened. For example, if you have whiplash, your vehicle was probably struck from behind.

Understanding Insurance with an Uber or Lyft Accident

The amount of insurance can make a big difference in whether our clients receive full and fair compensation for their injuries or whether they must accept pennies. In theory, you can sue the at-fault driver for compensation. If you win, then the defendant must pay you all the money that the jury awarded.

In practice, most drivers do not have enough assets to pay out a judgment, and many assets are exempt from levy or garnishment. As a result, many of our clients cannot receive more than the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

Uber and Lyft offer insurance in addition to the driver’s policy for up to $1 million in accident coverage.

However, Uber requires drivers to pay a $1,000 deductible while Lyft has a $2,500 deductible. The challenge is drivers even during the best hours only earn $18.91 per hour after expenses. They might not have enough to cover the deductible.

Remember, after an accident, the key is to collect standard documents like:

  • Other drivers’ contact info
  • Insurance company info
  • Crash Scene Photos
  • Witness Statements (if available)
  • Police Report

To determine how much insurance is available to cover your claim, identify which situation applies to you.

What if You Were an Uber or Lyft Passenger & Your Driver is to Blame?

In this scenario, the rideshare driver is responsible for your Lyft or Uber car accident. Because they are at fault, they should have insurance that will cover your injuries.

Helpfully, ridesharing companies have big insurance policies with high limits. Uber, for example, requires drivers to carry at least $1 million in insurance benefits, so your injuries should definitely be covered.

Since both Uber and Lyft consider their drivers as contractors, the matter is a substantial legal issue in a crash. Legislators and enforcement agencies are still defining who is liable and what everyone’s financial responsibility is.

As a victim, you will find that ride-sharing services are difficult to contact without an attorney. This is because the ride-sharing reps will avoid speaking with passengers about a case. Please don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer for assistance.

What if You Were a Lyft or Uber Passenger & Another Motorist is to Blame?

Here, another driver is at fault, so you will need to make a claim on that driver’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, California requires that drivers carry bare-bones coverage:

  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability for 1 injured person
  • $30,000 in bodily injury liability for 2 or more injured people
  • $5,000 for property damage

Many of our clients suffer serious injuries that will quickly consume this small amount of benefits. Helpfully, Uber & Lyft also carry underinsured motorist coverage which will kick in and pay compensation above and beyond what the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay.

Uber’s policy, for example, is for $1 million, which means passengers should be fully covered even if another driver is to blame for the crash.

What if You Were a Motorist or Pedestrian Injured by an Uber or Lyft Driver?

This is the most complicated scenario. The amount of insurance available depends on the driver:

  • If the driver does not have the app on, then he or she is not an Uber/Lyft driver. You will have to make a claim on the driver’s personal car insurance policy.
  • If the driver has the app on and is waiting for a ride request, more compensation is available: $50,000 per person in bodily injury liability up to $100,000, along with $25,000 in property damage.
  • If the driver has accepted a request and is on the way to pick up a rider, then $1 million in coverage is available.
  • If the driver has a passenger in the vehicle, then $1 million in coverage is also available.

The key in this situation is to establish that the rideshare driver was on their way to getting a ride. If so, much more is available than if the app was merely on.

To build your case, you need a lawyer who knows how to identify and obtain helpful pieces of information, such as whether the driver was on his or her way to pick up a ride.

Talk to an Accident Attorney Today

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Making an Insurance Claim

After your Uber or Lyft car accident, you will get the name of the driver’s insurance carrier. You should contact them immediately to make a claim.James River Insurance Company, for example, handles most of Uber’s insurance claims. You can make a claim with them by fax, email, or mail. You should use the claims notice provided.

An adequate Lyft or Uber accident settlement should fully cover all your losses, including:

  • Lost wages. Many of our clients can’t work after a serious injury, and they deserve to replace that lost income.
  • Medical treatment. Even relatively “moderate” injuries can cost tens of thousands of dollars in medical treatment, prescription drugs, and assistive devices like crutches or a wheelchair. You shouldn’t have to rely on your own health insurance to cover these expenses when someone else is to blame.
  • Property damage. A car accident can total your vehicle or at least require substantial repairs so that it can work again. The driver who is to blame should cover this property damage.
  • Pain and suffering. This is an umbrella term to describe the negative effects of an accident, including emotional distress, inconvenience, pain, disfigurement, and disability. Although the concept of pain and suffering is amorphous, you are entitled to compensation to try and make up for it.

Too many people who negotiate a settlement on their own end up settling for not nearly enough money. They often have not accurately calculated their losses, so they have no idea what is fair.

Make a Demand for Compensation

Once you have reached your maximum medical improvement after the Uber accident, you should submit a demand for compensation. This demand will be for an amount that covers all the losses listed above. A well-written demand letter should concisely:

  • Explain how the accident occurred. Who hit who, where, and on what date.
  • Identify evidence that supports your contention the insurance company’s insured is to blame.
  • Explain what medical treatment you have received for your injuries.
  • Provide detail as to your pain and suffering. For example, can you no longer enjoy your favorite hobbies or play with your children?
  • Break out your request for compensation by category (medical care, lost wages, etc.)

Remember to maintain a professional tone and don’t make threats. Insurance companies already know you will sue if you do not receive an acceptable settlement offer. There is no reason to repeat that fact.

Negotiate for a Fair Settlement for Your Lyft or Uber Accident

Having performed an investigation, the insurance company might accept that its insured was to blame but not agree to pay out as much money as you want. Now you must negotiate a settlement.

Negotiation requires that each side move incrementally away from their preferred settlement amount until they reach a
number each side agrees to. For example, you might have made an initial demand for $80,000 but are willing to accept $60,000. The insurance company will start at $40,000 but will slowly go up to $60,000.

If the insurance company can’t offer an amount you agree to, you’ll have no choice but to sue for compensation. Meet with an experienced Uber car accident attorney for more information.

DO YOU NEED HELP WITH A RIDE-SHARING OR TAXI CAR ACCIDENT?

The law gets muddled with taxi and ride-sharing services.

Insurance companies are not anxious to make generous settlement offers—at least not initially. With a skilled San Diego personal injury attorney in your corner, you can effectively bargain for more compensation, ensuring that you are fully reimbursed for all your losses.

Contact Levinson Law today. One of our lawyers will meet with you to discuss your case. We can help you identify who is to blame and collect the evidence necessary to receive compensation in a settlement or lawsuit.

Call our firm at (760) 827-1700 or send us an online message to schedule your free case consultation.

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