Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are continuing to grow in popularity around the world, especially in the United States. Ridesharing applications connect passengers with available drivers nearby, eliminating the need to hail a taxi or be stranded in a potentially unsafe area. Not only are ridesharing apps convenient for getting around, they are often cheaper than a taxi as well. Because these are classified more as technology companies rather than taxi services, claims are usually filed against the driver of the vehicle rather than Uber or Lyft.
Uber Accident Lawsuits
Filing a lawsuit against Uber is not necessarily going to result in a settlement. Your right to safe transportation with a rideshare company is built into the fare you pay. That money allows the companies to conduct background checks on Uber and Lyft drivers, screen the vehicles, and ensure the drivers have safety education. For example, Uber drivers in Washington, DC are required to have a clean driver’s license, maintain the required amount of insurance, and undergo a background check that includes a comprehensive search for felonies, sex offender registrations, and crimes against minors.
Uber drivers are considered independent contractors rather than employees of the ridesharing company. This is beneficial for the ridesharing companies because they are not vicariously liable for the actions of the drivers if they are contractors rather than employees. Employers are typically only vicariously liable for their employees’ actions, but not independent contractors. Declaring them to be independent contractors means the ridesharing companies can transfer liability to the driver directly.
How to Sue Uber?
Uber is required to maintain its own insurance policy, however. Ridesharing companies have sizeable limits of around $1 million dollars, which may kick in under certain circumstances. The company and rideshare passengers are covered under a multi-part plan. Coverage is dependent on what activity was going on at the time of the accident. If a driver was available and ready to pick up a passenger, but there is no one in the vehicle at the time of the loss, the driver’s own insurance policy would be primary. If a rideshare driver is involved in an accident with a third party, Uber would typically provide $50,000 / $100,000 bodily injury liability and $25,000 in property damage coverage.
In situations where a driver is available and accepted a request to pick up a new passenger, but the passenger is not in the vehicle yet, the rideshare policy would cover several items:
- The rideshare driver’s liability to a third party
- Comprehensive and collision coverage
- Injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured driver
In this scenario, coverage would be up to one million dollars for bodily injury. The limits are the same if the ridesharing driver has a passenger in the vehicle.
California drivers are only required to carry the lowest liability coverage, which is $15,000 for one person’s injuries or $30,000 for all parties. This is not much in the event of a serious accident, which is where Uber’s underinsured limits may come into play. While it’s mandatory that drivers in California carry liability coverage, some drivers still opt to break the law. In those situations, the Uber uninsured policy may apply. California Vehicle Code Section 5430 is the statute that mandates all rideshare companies in California provide one million dollars in coverage.
Establishing Liability in an Uber or Lyft Accident
Establishing liability is an important aspect of the overall claims process. There are some situations where the rideshare company may be held liable, despite the driver being classified as an independent contractor. In other accidents, the Uber or Lyft driver would be the only party who is liable.
In order to establish liability, there are a number of important facts that your attorney will look at. Some of these
- Eyewitness statements who saw the accident,
- Police reports taken at the accident scene,
- Driving records for all parties involved in the accident,
and portion of the day did the Uber or Lyft driver spend behind the wheel? What
Conducting a thorough investigation is key with ridesharing accidents to ensure your case is as strong as possible. In simple matters, it may be as easy as filing a claim on your behalf with the Uber or Lyft driver’s carrier and let their insurer sort out the issues with the ridesharing company directly. What’s most important is that you are not the one paying for the claim if you were not the negligent party.
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What Type of Damages are Recoverable in an Uber or Lyft Accident?
Under California law, you’re entitled to compensation for a variety of damages that are the result of a car accident. This includes compensation for items like:
- Medical Expenses: Both current and future medical bills, hospital charges, rehabilitation costs, temporary disability, and other medical related expenses;
- Lost Earnings: Loss of income or wages due to the accident, which also includes future loss of earnings that are a result of long-term disability and your permanent diminished earnings capacity;
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish, etc.;
- Punitive Damages: Some cases may see an award for punitive damages when the conduct was outrageous; or
- Wrongful Death: If your loved one died in the accident, members of the family may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Should I Retain an Uber Accident Attorney?
If you are wondering whether you should retain a California Uber accident attorney, the answer is usually yes. For cases involving serious injuries or a death, you definitely need the assistance of a skilled attorney. Trying to settle your case directly isn’t necessarily going to save you any money, nor will it be easy, especially in cases involving complex legal issues.
After the accident, you are likely to be contacted by an insurance person on behalf of Uber or Lyft, depending on which company is involved. It is recommended you do not give any written or recorded statement to the rideshare company’s adjuster or attorney without speaking with your own attorney first. They will be looking for any little detail that can help them deny liability or not be on the hook for any payout.
It’s not guaranteed, but there is a good chance you may receive less compensation if you attempt to negotiate your own case. At the Levinson Law Group, our attorneys specialize in litigating cases against Uber and Lyft. Their side’s job is to limit the amount paid out. They may tell you that you didn’t need some of the treatment you received or that your case is not worth what you think it is. They may even try to lower the payout by saying you don’t need future medical care, physical therapy, surgery, etc.
Having an experienced Uber and Lyft attorney on your side can protect your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Why Hire the Levinson Law Group?
If you retain the Levinson Law Group, you will be retaining an attorney who is not worried about fighting for the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys have ample experience representing clients in accidents involving an Uber or Lyft driver. We thoroughly investigate all claims and have access to leading experts who can help prove liability and confirm your treatment was reasonable and necessary.
We have years of experience in the courtroom, so we aren’t afraid to take a case to trial. And, because we work on a contingency fee basis, we only receive a fee if you win. We don’t bill clients for time spent working on their case either. If you were involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, contact us online or call our office at 760-642-5475 to schedule a consultation.