The development of ride sharing has opened a new area of civil litigation, particularly in regard to ride sharing-accident lawsuits. Many people get into an Uber or a Lyft vehicle without ever expecting to be involved in an accident, nor a lawsuit. When an accident does occur, it's important to protect your rights – meaning the sooner you understand your rights in these situations, the better.
Like other car accidents, what you do following the crash plays a vital role in your recovery process. The first thing to do is remain calm. Remember that anything you say may be used against you in court (should any legal matter arise). Any kind of “I’m sorry,” can be used against you – giving you fault in the accident, even if you didn’t contribute to the accident at all. Remember to also keepsake the following information from your Uber/Lyft accident:
Leaving the scene of the accident may not be the best thing to do. While you may have been on the way to work or wherever you were heading, leaving the scene may add any unwanted suspicion on your end.
In most states, ride sharing companies are expected to carry a specific type of insurance, so their passengers will be protected in the event something happens. Therefore, when an Uber driver or a Lyft driver is involved in an accident and you become injured, you should be able to file a claim with that ride-share company’s insurance. Certainly, this may be the most expedient way to receive a settlement, but it may not be the best move for you. In the event an accident happens, many are often at a state of shock and confusion… therefore making any haste moves may be consequential.
You’ll want to ensure any compensation you receive is adequate to cover your medical expenses and any property damages you may have experienced. For this reason alone, you may want to consult a personal injury attorney who primarily focuses in auto accidents related to ride sharing vehicles.
Additionally, Uber and Lyft have lately been trying to avoid any such opportunity, placing blame on their drivers. Even though these popular businesses are required to provide insurance, these ride-sharing companies often won't pay in cases where their driver was at fault. In the end, most of these complications are advised with the opinion that the injured party should instead sue the driver responsible for the accident.
New state laws, such as those being introduced in California, reject this position, however. The state suggests that, as the employer, the parent company is liable for the acts of their employees in the performance of their duties. Insurance policies provided by the employer are required under the new California Vehicle Code, making this argument invalid.
Initially, the policy paid for by Lyft or Uber is responsible for paying damages. However, in some instances, the passengers’ injuries may be severe and go beyond the limits of the policy. When this occurs, the at-fault driver's personal auto policy should be used to cover the remaining balance.
In cases where the other driver was at fault, or even partially liable for causing the accident, the injured party would still go after the ride sharing company's insurance policy. Instead of filing against the Uber or Lyft driver's policy for the balance, however, the passenger would then make a claim against the other driver's auto insurance policy.
In California, the policies carried by ride-sharing companies must provide coverage for their drivers, their passengers, and for third party individuals involved in the accident. Additionally, they're required to carry $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for the purposes of providing for personal injury, death, and property damages.
In some cases, the injured party may be the Uber or Lyft driver. If this is your case and you were logged into the app, you may be covered and able to sue for damages. However, some other restrictions do apply. For instance, when you're logged in but waiting for a rider at the time of the accident, your personal insurance would first be applied. Any damages not covered would then be covered by the company policy.
If you're en route to pick up a rider at the time of the accident, Uber or Lyft would be responsible for paying out on damages. In cases where the other driver is found at fault, his or her policy would first compensate, and the balance would be applied to the ride sharing company's policy.
In cases where you are the passenger and seeking compensation from the ride sharing company, you may need an experienced personal injury lawyer. As previously mentioned, Uber and Lyft are reluctant to pay out, so you may need a strong advocate to represent you against their insurance companies.
Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, all Uber passengers are covered under Uber’s one million-dollar liability coverage. Since passengers have no fault or contribution to the driver’s negligence, receiving settlement as a passenger is a no-brainer. For accidents that involve you as a third-party to the scene, and an Uber driver hit you during Uber purposes, then Uber would cover you under their coverage. However, if the Uber driver was not clocked in during the Uber program, a claim would have to be made under that driver’s personal automobile insurance provider.
Again, this can become a complicated matter when determining the at fault driver. If the ride- sharing employee was not at fault, the third-party driver's insurance company would be required to pay out on a claim first. Any remaining balance would then have to be paid by the Uber or Lyft policy. Damages covered by policies in these types of auto accidents include medical expenses (hospital bills, long-term care, therapy), property damage, loss of income, a loss of earnings potential (in cases where the accident resulted in a disability), and pain and suffering.
In the event that you are in an accident in which a ride sharing vehicle was involved, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able to. In the meantime, do not contact the Uber or Lyft company on your own, and certainly do not admit to any fault. Additionally, don't sign any documents without your attorney present. It's better to take your time and ensure your rights are protected, than to rush into a settlement that's far less than that which you're owed.
Michael Avanesian primarily focuses in the field of corporate restructuring and litigation. Mr. Avanesian has a wide range of experience in Personal Injury cases and has represented a wide array of happy clients.
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