A Complete Guide for Victims of Ride Share (Uber/Lyft) Accidents in California
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 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. In this guide, our experienced Carlsbad Uber and Lyft accident attorneys walk you through the steps for receiving compensation after a Lyft or Uber accident.
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 a Lyft or Uber 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. To determine how much insurance is available to cover your claim, identify which situation applies to you.
You Were a Lyft or Uber 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.
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.
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.
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.
Contact Levinson Law Today
If you’ve been in a Lyft or Uber accident, you would benefit from an attorney’s experience. Insurance companies are not anxious to make generous settlement offers—at least not initially. With a skilled Carlsbad Uber accident lawyer in your corner, you can effectively bargain for more compensation so 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.
For more information, please contact us by calling (760) 827-1700 or sending an online message.