Over the past decade, the ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft experienced an increase in popularity and became a new top and trendy form of transportation, at least that was the case before the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s really easy to understand why- instead of hopping on a bus or calling a cab, you just need to take out your phone and request a ride. And like all technology trends, the payment is online, and the fare is charged to your account. Great, right?
But like every other car, ride-sharing comes with a risk of accidents in which you, as a rider, are swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Who is paying your bills? Is the ridesharing company covering for your injuries? Who knows?
Luckily, a good Uber/Lyft attorney knows precisely what you can do if you get injured as a rider in a ride share vehicle accident..
Uber or Lyft Insurance and Coverage in 2020
With a taxi or a bus, you can be sure you are well protected since a specific type of insurance, Passenger Transportation Insurance, protects these vehicles and their drivers in case of an accident.
With Uber accidents or Lyft, this is a bit different. Their drivers don’t need to have a separate policy, meaning their insurance may not cover your injuries. But ride share companies are smart about this. The only way for anyone to become a ride share driver is to carry $1 million in liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. So in a way their drivers and riders do have some sort of coverage, it’s only really hard to access it.
The biggest problem was that Uber and Lyft drivers were not considered as employees. Instead, they were regarded as independent contractors by their ride-sharing companies and as such cannot apply for workers’ compensation.
This has been up for the debate for a better half of 2020 as many attorneys have filed a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft in hopes of changing the driver’s status to employee instead of an independent contractor. Their driver’s have also been protesting over the declining wages and lack of benefits that full-time employees have. In addition, many of them are using their personal vehicle, which gives the insurance carrier a perfect excuse to deny their claim.
This all caused a kind of tug of war in the past between Uber drivers and insurance companies. However, from June 9, 2020, Uber and Lyft drivers are ‘presumed to be employees’ under a new gig work law called AB-5, as ordered by California’s Public Utilities Commission.
And here’s another piece of vital information- under California law, any party who contributes to the cause of the accident can be held financially responsible for injuries that result. This means you are well protected in an accident as a rider, and you have rights to a certain, and sometimes substantial compensation.
How can an Uber/Lyft Accident Attorney help me?
These companies sure are popular, but they are new, and their way of doing business carries a lot of legal what-ifs. For a regular car accident attorney, this type of claim is pretty standard business in which, besides you, he has to consider only the other party when determining responsibility and compensation.
So you as a rider in a car accident pose a new unknown in this equation that your lawyer needs to solve and protect your interest along the way. In a way, he will have to battle on many fronts, those with both drivers, their rideshare companies and insurance companies to get you the compensation you deserve.
Here are some tips from a Los Angeles Uber/Lyft Accident attorney:
1- Know who is the at-fault driver– considering you are the passenger in the care, and you are not the driver, it is not you, of course. But the reason why you should know who carries the liability for the accident is the fact that you will be seeking compensation from their insurance, assuming they have coverage.
2- Always get medical help– even if you think you don’t need it. If you are, in fact, injured in an accident, ask someone to call an ambulance if you can. But even if you don’t have any visible injuries, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have some dormant and more serious injuries. Seek medical help and make sure you are ok, as this helps you preserve your health, but also strengthen your case.
3- Report the accident from the app-Many rideshare companies have policies that cover all kinds of different situations while the car is ‘’on duty’’. As your injuries likely fall under those policies, make sure to report the accident from your Uber app.
4- Get ready for a nerve-wracking battle with the insurance company- especially if you are seeking compensation from the other driver. Make sure you do not go into this alone. The best and most important thing you can do is hire an Uber/Lyft accident attorney.
5- You will get more money with Accident Attorney– while you may think the insurance company is giving you a fair settlement amount, your attorney will know exactly what you are owed and will know how to ask for it. Besides your medical bills, they will count in the expenses of you not being able to work because of the injury and losing your income, emotional and psychological trauma, their fees and many expenses that didn’t even cross your mind.
6- Beware of the insurance companies– and we really mean this. It’s not that they are bad, there are many good people working with the insurance companies. Its just that their job is to offer you the lowest possible compensation sum and do it in a way that is hard for you to deny. They are highly skilled individuals, excellent negotiators great at using many different approaches and styles, depending on who they’re convincing. The only people who are immune to their skills are the attorneys that are as good and even better at negotiating then insurance adjusters are.
The best thing is that the law backs up the lawyers’ negotiating and therefore it is much stronger.
What should you do if you have been in a Ride share accident such as uber or lyft?
If you do happen to get into an accident as a rider, make sure you and everyone else are ok. Most definitely seek medical treatment, as many types of injuries, as internal bleeding, don’t show any significant symptoms until it’s too late. Make your health your priority.
Document as much details related to the accident as you can. Remember, you are both a victim and a witness, and your recollection of the events can impact your case significantly. If you can, screenshot your Uber app for location because this is one of the most important things you need to do.
Make sure you do everything by the book- jot down the drivers’ names, their insurance information and ensure police report is filed. After you collect all the essential information, you should seek legal counsel ASAP. If you want to file a claim, this will have to be done before the statute of limitations runs. This way, you will ensure plenty of time for your attorney to gather the rest of the information needed for your claim and defend your interests successfully.
Why is the location screenshot so important?
This has nothing to do with the place of the accident, as it has with the period of your Uber ride. You see, Uber has a system where every ride has a rideshare period.
Period 1 happens while the driver is waiting for the order. So basically, you are still not in their car, and they are the only one covered for any accidents occurring in this period. And what a coverage it is-with up to 50k personal injury per person, 100k personal injury per accident and up to 25k in property damage per accident.
Period 2 and 3 are including a rider in their vehicle, and it includes up to $1 million per incident liability and up to $1 million for underinsured/uninsured motorist, along with the comprehensive collision coverage for the value of the vehicle plus coverage for deductibles. This is all if they achieve in their insurance company paying for everything, a task similar to pulling teeth out. And where are you in this story? Without your own insurance, you are in a complicated mess that’s hard to get out of with some sort of compensation.
Rider’s Rights and Coverage
Even thought Uber and Lyft now have to regard their drivers as employees, they are still fighting this law. In the past, when they had drivers that are classified as independent contractors, this funny little loophole allowed them to reduce their liability in case of an accident. Now, in California, things are different, but we can count on Uber and Lyft fighting hard to reduce their liability again in this type of situations. Nevertheless, you can hold the driver and the rideshare company liable, but with the current battle over the workers classification this could be a tricky task to do on your own. This is why a ride-share accident attorney would be the best person to get you out of this mess.