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Ridesharing

What to Do When Your Uber or Lyft Driver Wants to Handle an Accident Privately

Lyft Driver Wants to Handle an Accident PrivatelyTypically, if you get into an accident with another driver, you exchange insurance details, file a police report, and let your insurance companies handle the financial aspects of the claim. But in some cases, the other driver may want to skip these traditional steps and handle the accident privately.

Wondering what to do if you’re in an accident with a Lyft driver and they want to keep the issue between the two of you? Take these tips into account.

Decline the Offer

When you’re in an accident, you should always make a report. Even if you don’t see a lot of damage to your vehicle or feel any injuries on your body, you should still follow the traditional post-accident protocol. Sometimes, it you think that the damage to your vehicle is well under the amount of your insurance deductible, you may be tempted to take the Uber or Lyft driver up on their offer to handle the issue quietly, but for your own financial and physical safety, you should not do that.

Instead, when the ridesharing driver requests to handle the issue privately, simply decline their offer. By making a formal accident report, you create a record of what happened, which can be essential if you need to make an insurance claim. At the site of the accident, you can’t always assess the extent of the damage. Sometimes, a small dent can translate to big issues under the hood. Similarly, you can feel fine after an accident but end up with whiplash, concussions, internal bleeding, or other issues that aren’t always apparent right away.

Report the Accident

Whether the Uber or Lyft driver is receptive to the idea of reporting the accident or not, you should call 911 and let the dispatcher know what happened and where you are. They will send police and other first responders as needed to the site of the accident. Once there, the police can write up a report detailing the location, what happened, and the drivers involved.

If the driver attempts to leave before the police arrive, try to jot down their license plate number or take a picture of their vehicle with your phone. If you were a passenger when the accident occurred, you can use the app to file a complaint against the driver and let the ridesharing company know about the accident. Whether you’re an Uber or Lyft passenger, a pedestrian hit by a ridesharing driver, or the driver of another vehicle, a record of the accident is critical if you eventually need to make a claim.

Try to Stay Calm

Be prepared for some drivers to become agitated or angry if you refuse to handle the accident privately. Don’t argue with them or do anything to exacerbate the situation. If you feel unsafe, get into your own vehicle and lock the doors until the police arrive.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Once you have a police report of the accident, you should contact your insurance company. Let them know about the accident and give them any details you have about the driver. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have some liability coverage in case their drivers get into an accident, but the maximum coverage only applies when the driver has a passenger in their vehicle.

When an Uber or Lyft driver is on their way to pick up a passenger or is waiting to get a fare, these drivers have limited liability coverage offered by the ridesharing companies; they may need to rely on their own insurance if an accident happens in one of these situations.

Many ridesharing drivers have personal insurance, and if an accident occurs when they are driving for Uber or Lyft, their insurance company may refuse the claim because they weren’t supposed to work on that coverage. According to one survey, 77% of ridesharing drivers have not properly upgraded their policies to reflect the fact that they are using their vehicle for work.

Luckily, in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, ridesharing drivers are legally required to upgrade to a commercial insurance policy so you don’t have to worry as much about their policies not covering your accident.

Consider Getting Legal Help

After an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver or a driver from any other ridesharing company, you may suffer from extensive car repair costs, medical bills, and other damages. In some situations, you may be able to get a fair settlement from the driver’s insurance or from the ridesharing company’s insurance. However, these entities may reject your claim or offer a lowball settlement.

To ensure you receive a fair settlement, consider reaching out for legal help. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we work with clients who have been in car accidents with ridesharing drivers or others, and we help them to get the financial and legal justice they deserve. We pride ourselves on providing all our clients with the individualized attention they deserve through this difficult time. To learn more about what to do if a ridesharing driver wants to handle an accident privately or to set up a no-cost case evaluation, contact us today.

Steps to Take After a Ridesharing Accident

Ridesharing AccidentAfter a ridesharing accident, emotions can run high, which makes the situation feel scary and confusing. However, staying calm and working through the right steps can help you a lot in the long run. Whether you’re a ridesharing driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, or the driver of another vehicle, here’s what you should do after a ridesharing accident.

Ridesharing Drivers

If you drive for Uber, Lyft, or any other ridesharing company, you should review the company’s accident protocol before you start picking up passengers. Then, you know what steps you are expected to take after a ridesharing accident. In most cases, you should do the following.

  1. Make sure your passenger is okay — Tell the passenger to stay in the vehicle until you move it to a spot where you can both safely get out. Then, ask them if they are okay. You don’t have to give the passenger your personal details, but you should not stop them from reporting the accident in the app.
  1. Report the accident — As soon as you can, report the accident to the police. An accident report is essential for making insurance claims and for establishing who was at fault. Reporting the accident is also legally required in most areas.
  1. Get details about other driver — While you wait for the police to arrive, get the other driver’s name and insurance details. If they leave the scene of the accident, try to snap a photo or write down their license plate number so that you can make a report.
  1. Talk with witnesses — Eyewitness testimony can be essential, especially in terms of proving who was at fault for the accident. If you see any bystanders, ask for their names and phone numbers and see if they are willing to stick around and talk with the police about what they saw.
  1. Don’t admit fault — While talking with the other driver, witnesses, and your passengers, be careful about what you say. Don’t admit fault for the accident. If you know you caused the accident, you don’t have to lie and say you’re innocent, but to protect yourself from a liability standpoint, you should just not share any details right away. In many cases, both drivers contribute to the accident, and if the other driver was partially at fault, that can reduce your liability for the accident.
  1. Contact the ridesharing company — If you had a passenger in the car, you should also contact the ridesharing company, but keep in mind that most ridesharing companies deactivate your account until they know whether or not you caused the accident, which can affect your ability to keep working.

When you have a passenger in the vehicle, the ridesharing company’s insurance covers your liability for damage and injuries. You should not have to pay a deductible for that coverage, but you should expect to pay a deductible if you make a claim on the ridesharing company’s insurance to cover damage to your vehicle. As of 2019, Uber’s coverage for drivers has a $1,000 deductible, and Lyft has a $2,500 deductible for collision and comprehensive coverage and no deductible for liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

If you were not using the app at the time of the accident, you have no coverage through the ridesharing company, and you don’t need to contact the company right away. However, ridesharing companies often have stipulations about their driver’s accident records; so, eventually you need to let the ridesharing company know that you were involved in an accident.

  1. Contact your insurer — To drive for a ridesharing company, you need your own insurance, and depending on when the accident happened, you may have to make a claim on your own policy. As indicated above, ridesharing companies have extensive liability plans to cover accidents if you have a passenger in the vehicle. If you are on the way to pick up a passenger or waiting to get ride request, you also have access to some liability coverage through most ridesharing companies. However, if you caused the accident, your insurance may have to cover damage sustained to your vehicle.

Other Drivers

If you get into an accident with a ridesharing driver, you should take the steps you normally take after an accident, but you should keep in mind that you may need to contact two insurance companies. Follow these tips.

  1. Get to safety — After any accident, safety is your number one concern. Get your vehicle and yourself to a safe position. Then, start to address critical injuries. If anyone involved in the ridesharing accident appears to have neck or back injuries, do not move them or you risk exacerbating the damage.
  1. Contact the first responders — If anyone is injured, call 911 to get an ambulance to the scene as quickly as possible. In the absence of critical injuries, you can call the non-emergency number to report the accident to the police in your area.
  1. Ask the ridesharing driver for details — Talk with the ridesharing driver to get their name, the name of the ridesharing company, and their license plate number. Also, get contact details for both the ridesharing company’s insurance provider and the driver’s personal insurance provider. Do not admit fault when talking with the other driver. Even when the police arrive, remember that you always have the right to remain silent or request to have an attorney present before you talk to anyone about the details.
  1. Document the accident — The more information you have about the accident, the easier it becomes to make a claim. Document the accident by taking photos of your vehicle, the other vehicle, and any injuries that you see on yourself or your passengers. Also, make notes while the event is fresh in your mind, and if you see any witnesses, ask them for their impressions and take their names and phone numbers.
  1. Contact your insurance company — After taking care of everything at the scene of the accident, call your insurance company. Let them know what happened and give them the details you collected at the scene of the accident. With minor accidents, your insurer can usually handle the rest of the claim, but if you suffered serious injuries or extensive damage to your vehicle, you may want to contact a ridesharing accident attorney to negotiate with the other insurance companies, the ridesharing driver, and the ridesharing company.

Ridesharing Passengers

Ridesharing passengers are covered by relatively extensive liability plans. As a passenger, you are always innocent, except in rare situations where you contribute to the accident. For instance, if an inebriated passenger distracts the driver to the point of causing an accident, the passenger may be deemed responsible, and they may have to cover part of their damages on their own. Luckily, that’s an extremely rare situation, and in most cases, you should simply follow these steps after a ridesharing accident:

  1. Seek medical treatment — Even if you don’t have any visible injuries, you should still seek medical treatment. In accidents, you often get a rush of adrenaline which can prevent you from feeling pain. Additionally, some injuries such as concussions and internal bleeding can be asymptomatic right away.
  1. Report the accident — The ridesharing driver and any other drivers involved in the accident should make a report to the police. If you don’t see that happening, you can also call 911 or the non-emergency number in your area. In addition, make sure to report the accident to the ridesharing company.

If you’re in an accident involving a Lyft, you can contact the company’s safety team. You can report Uber accidents online — the person who booked the ride, their friends or family who are also in the Uber, bystanders, and pedestrians can all use this online form.

  1. Seek legal help — As a passenger in a vehicle that gets into an accident, you can face all kinds of injuries. You may even end up missing work, suffering a permanent disability, or incurring other damages. To ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries, you may want to seek legal help.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Tragically, ridesharing drivers have hit numerous pedestrians and bicyclists over the years and the injuries from these accidents can be extensive. If you are hit by a ridesharing vehicle, get to safety and then follow these steps:

  1. Call the first responders — Call the police to report the accident and ask the dispatcher to send an ambulance if necessary. Keep in mind that some injuries may not surface right away so you may want to get medical help even if you don’t think you need it.
  1. Get the driver’s information — Gather as much information as you can about the driver. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with them, take a picture of their vehicle that shows the license plate clearly.
  1. Speak up — When the police arrive, make sure they hear your side of the story. If there are witnesses nearby, also ask them to speak with the police. You need to ensure that the ridesharing driver doesn’t try to misrepresent what happened.
  1. Start an insurance claim — To get financial help to cover medical bills or other damages suffered as a result of the accident, contact the ridesharing company’s insurance provider. Your own car insurance may also offer some coverage when you are hit as a bicyclist or a pedestrian.
  1. Contact a ridesharing attorney — Ridesharing companies are notorious for denying claims, especially if their drivers didn’t have a passenger in the vehicle and weren’t responding to a ride request. To ensure you are justly compensated for your injuries, you may need to work with a ridesharing attorney.

At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we may be able to help if you have been affected by a ridesharing accident or if you have lost a loved one in an accident. To learn more about your rights and to set up a no-cost case evaluation, contact us today.

Ridesharing Safety Basics

Ridesharing Safety BasicsUber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies make transportation incredibly convenient. In hundreds of cities and dozens of countries in the world, you can whip out your phone, tap an app a few times, and have a driver in front of you in minutes. Before jumping in the car, however, you should make sure you’re safe. If you use ridesharing services, you need to keep the following safety basics in mind.

1. Always Verify the Driver

Before getting into a ridesharing vehicle, make sure to verify the details. Ask the driver their name and make sure they know your name. Also, double check other details, such as the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number, and the color of the Uber sticker if you chose a special color in the app.

Tragically, jumping in the wrong car can be disastrous. When a South Carolina college student mistook another vehicle for her Uber, the driver trapped her by locking the doors; authorities found her dead body in a field just hours after she had ordered the Uber.

2. Sit in the Backseat

Unless you have a big group and you have to sit in the front seat, always try to sit in the backseat of your ridesharing vehicle. This gives both you and the driver some personal space and protects you from potential driver misconduct.

3. Monitor the Route

Ridesharing apps tell drivers the most effective way to reach your destination. To ensure the driver is following the right path, look at the route in your app and notice where you’re going while in the vehicle. If you believe the driver is taking you astray, speak up, ask to leave the vehicle, or contact the authorities.

4. Don’t Use Cash

Ridesharing apps are set up so that you can easily pay for the ride and give the driver a tip, right in the app. This feature also protects you from the dangers of paying with cash. Don’t offer to pay the driver in cash, even for the tip. This prevents the driver or anyone around the vehicle from seeing your cash and potentially trying to steal it.

5. Tell a Friend Where You Are

Before going anywhere with a stranger, you should always let a friend or relative know where you are, and if they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they should contact the authorities. Both Uber and Lyft simplify this process for passengers, and for your safety, you should take advantage of these features in the ridesharing apps.

On Uber, you should swipe up on the app screen and tap Send Status. Then, follow the prompts to share your trip details with friends or family — they don’t need to use the app to receive the information. Uber texts or emails the information to them, and they receive your driver’s name, vehicle details, and information about the trip.

If you’re taking a Lyft, select Share Route from the menu on the upper righthand corner of your screen. Then, decide who you want to alert. You can save contacts or add them manually every time. Then, Lyft sends the recipient a text with a link to your details.

6. Always Use the App

In some cases, you may really like a driver, and they may offer to give you their personal details. For instance, they may say, “Why don’t you contact me directly. I can give you rides at a reduced rate.” Although that can be tempting, you should never follow through on an offer like this.

Instead, you should always use the app. If you don’t use the app, you are not covered by the company’s liability plans. If you get injured in an accident, you may not have any recourse to make a claim, and you likely may not get enough (or any) coverage under the driver’s personal policy. Additionally, when you don’t use the app, you forgo the safety of its safety and tracking features.

7. Exit Safely

At the conclusion of a safe ride, continue to think about safety while you exit the vehicle. Don’t get out into moving traffic. If you feel unsafe for any reason, ask the driver to take you to a different drop off point.

8. Trust Your Instincts

Finally, you should always trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, don’t get into the vehicle, terminate the ride early, contact the authorities, or take whatever steps you need to get to safety.

Have you been in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver? Were you the passenger when a ridesharing vehicle got into an accident? Have you lost a loved one to a ridesharing accident? If so, you deserve justice and compensation for your damages.

To find out how the right legal counsel can help after a ridesharing accident, contact us today. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we work closely with our clients to ensure they get the personalized care and attention they need after a ridesharing accident; we offer a no-cost case evaluation.

Uber and Lyft Pedestrian Accidents (Podcast)

Pedestrian accidents are scary, and knowing what to do next can be confusing. If you were hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, listen to Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough, attorneys with Mazow McCullough, to learn what to do next. Listen or read more to find out the steps to take after an Uber or Lyft pedestrian accident.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm of Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today, we’re talking about Uber and Lyft pedestrian accidents. Welcome, Robert and Kevin.

Robert Mazow: Thanks, John.

Kevin McCullough: Thank you, John.

John: So, have you guys seen an increase in pedestrian accidents involving ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft?

Kevin: Unfortunately we have, John, and we think the reasoning behind that is these drivers with the Uber and Lyft vehicles are looking at their phone, as far as making sure they have correct contact information or billing information for the person that they’re picking up. There’s then more interaction in the vehicle when they’re going to their destination, as well as the driver trying to get their next fare or their next customer. Looking at their phone, whether it’s looking at directions for where their next destination is or picking up the next customer, they’re just not paying attention to the roadway. So, we are seeing a lot more of these incidents on the streets here in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Distracted Drivers Causing Accidents

John: So, just like a lot of pedestrian accidents, distracted driving is a big issue.

Kevin: Yeah. With all pedestrian accidents, the driver, and just not paying attention to the roadway, is an issue. Certainly with the level of increase with Uber an Lyft vehicles on the roadway, the collisions and the incidents are going up as well.

Robert: I think that to add to that, where truck drivers have the requirement that they can only be on the road for a certain amount of hours a day to make sure that they stay focused, I don’t think we have the same requirements with Uber and Lyft. I think a person who is an Uber driver, Lyft driver can get up in the middle of the night, nobody’s checking them, they can start doing their fares, and all of the sudden they’re out driving at 2:00 in the morning — who knows what they had done that night — and causes a crash. I don’t think there’s any regulations on this kind of activity. I also think that’s what Kevin is saying, they’re so focused on what’s going on on their phones. I mean, there’s so many rules and regulations about people not looking at their phones while they’re on the road, these companies are requiring it because the drivers need to know where they’re going.

John: It’s part of the service, that it’s an app.

Robert: It’s part of the service, but the service that provides what’s supposed to be safe transportation is also providing a potential distraction to the drivers that are using it.

What to do if You’re Hit by an Uber or Lyft Driver

John: Okay. So what happens if you had been hit by a car, you’re a pedestrian, maybe you’re crossing the street and you’re hit by a car, and it turns out that that car is an Uber or Lyft vehicle?

Robert: Well, we happen to have several cases like that, so I can tell you. First of all, the pedestrian hopefully is in a position where they can see and communicate with whoever struck them. They can make sure that the police are called so that witnesses can be gathered, so that information from the scene can be obtained, so that statements can be given and so that the proper medical attention can be taken care of. We all have our phones with us, all of our phones have cameras on it, so at the very least if you are in a position where you’ve been struck and you can do it, take a picture of the vehicle that hit you. Take a picture of the person’s driver’s license, or ask a witness. Say, “Please, would you mind taking a picture or getting some information from this driver before they leave the scene?” to make sure that that information is gathered.

Kevin: Also being aware of your surroundings. There are so many security cameras and just cameras in general out there, whether it’s a commercial property or residential property. For homeowners, for their own safety you’re seeing a lot more surveillance out there. So to be aware of your surroundings and to then retain a firm that is willing to go to the scene of an incident to do what’s called a “locust” to see if there’s anything around as far as cameras or any video footage of the actual incident. I mean, those are things that we do routinely here at the Law Office of Mazow McCullough that a lot of other law firms just don’t do that, to be mindful of that.

So, you want to make sure you’re safe, you want to make sure you get the medical treatment that you need, you want to gather information. But oftentimes as a pedestrian who’s hurt laying in the street or the side of the roadway, it’s difficult to do all of that.

John: Right, and especially if you’ve been injured, maybe you’re even in the hospital. You can’t go out and start canvassing the area and finding witnesses, or like you said finding cameras from local stores that might be nearby and things like that.

Kevin: Exactly. You want to hire and rely upon a good attorney and a good law firm that will do that for you if necessary, and that’s part of what we do here when it’s required.

What not to do After Being Hit by an Uber or Lyft

John: So, you mentioned some of the things that you should do like calling the police, taking photos, getting witnesses, finding those cameras in the area. Are there some things that you should not do after you’ve been struck by a ride-sharing vehicle?

Robert: Well, if you’re not in a position to do that — to move, to speak, to gather information — then don’t. There will be ways, if you’re not capable of gathering that information, there will be ways hopefully to do that. I mean Uber, Lyft — they know where every driver is at any given time I’m sure across the world. So with the technology, it’s likely that if the driver leaves the scene without letting himself or herself be known, it’s likely that that person can be found. I wouldn’t, if I were in the unfortunate situation of being struck by an Uber, Lyft I wouldn’t let the driver know, “Everything’s fine, go away. I don’t need your information,” because the next day you might be feeling differently. So, you want to make sure, again as Kevin said, get that information, don’t let that driver leave without at least gathering his or her name, license plate number, vehicle plate information, something that can provide the information for you when you need it.

John: Could you be in the situation where maybe the next day you get a phone call from Uber and Lyft asking you to tell them what happened? Or perhaps an insurance company asking you the same thing, and should you talk to those people?

Robert: You raise a good point, and this actually happened in one of our cases. Uber reached out to our client before they were a client, had heard that they were struck as a pedestrian, and offered them $500 to make the whole thing go away. The client asked, thankfully, the question, “Well, is this covering my medical bills? Is this covering everything?” and they said, “No, this will cover everything.” This was about two or three days after this person had their foot run over, their foot was broken, they were going to need surgery. Had she not had the wherewithal to ask questions she might have taken that $500 and that would have been the end of her case. So, if you are hurt and Uber or Lyft or an insurance company reaches out to you, you have no obligation to speak with them. You should contact an attorney to make sure that all of your questions are answered and that you’re not letting a case go that you shouldn’t.

John: Okay. Any final thoughts on pedestrian accidents involving ride-sharing vehicles?

Kevin: Yeah, just to talk about one of the questions you asked earlier John, some things what not to do. I think just be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t put yourself in a difficult situation. If you’ve been struck by an Uber or Lyft vehicle you’re probably hurting, you’re probably in pain at a minimum, maybe more severe injuries, maybe internal injuries. You do not need to confront the driver. You do not need to confront any of the parties involved. Be safe. Do what you need to do to gather information and get the medical treatment that you need.

John: All right, that’s really great advice. Robert and Kevin, thanks again for speaking with me today.

Kevin: Thank you, John.

Robert: Thank you, John.

John: And for more information on personal injury cases visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855-693-9084.

Uber and Lyft Lawsuits (Podcast)

Lawsuits against Uber and Lyft drivers is a relatively new arena for personal injury attorneys. Attorneys Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough discuss what to expect during a personal injury lawsuit. Listen or read more to find out the essentials in an Uber or Lyft lawsuit.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today, we’re talking about Uber and Lyft lawsuits. Robert and Kevin, welcome.

Robert: Thanks, John.

Kevin: Thanks, John.

John: Can you bring a lawsuit against an Uber or a Lyft driver if they get into an accident with you in the vehicle?

Robert: John, this is new territory for all of us. We’ve had several cases over the last few years where a client of ours has been injured as a result of an Uber or a Lyft driver’s negligence. And what we’re doing is, we’re bringing a claim, if it’s there, we’re bringing a lawsuit against both the driver and the ride share company itself. It is a tangled web, what we’re seeing, because the ride share companies themselves are claiming that they are not the employer of the driver. They’re saying they simply provide an app for the phone. The driver’s an independent person, an independent contractor. The companies claim that they provide no training, so we’re carefully navigating this area and trying to determine what exactly the relationship is between the ride share companies and the driver, to see if there’s any independent negligence on the ride share company that can be attributed to the driver.

Proving Fault in a Ride Sharing Accident

John: Okay. And what kind of evidence do you need to prove that the Uber driver was at-fault when there’s an accident?

Robert: There’s certain training that may have been provided by the ride share company to the driver. Or, maybe the driver didn’t have a great driving history, and yet Uber or Lyft allowed them to drive for them . . . allow them to use their app. Maybe there’s a criminal history that Uber or Lyft didn’t see, and they still allowed this driver to be on the road. And then, all of a sudden, this driver has caused some sort of an either a negligent act or a criminal act against the passenger. In those circumstances, I think there’s a very strong argument to be made that the ride share company shares in some liability, shares in some negligence for the harm that might be caused by that driver.

Gathering Information After a Ride Share Accident

John: Okay. First of all, it’s very important to know who your driver was if you were in an accident. How do you get that information?

Kevin: John, that information is typically available when you’re booking the ride or the Lyft for the transportation. That’s usually within the application on your phone as far as what to look for with the vehicle information, the plate information, as well as some driver information, including the name. Gathering that information can be critical. But going to Rob’s point earlier, as far as some allegations that may be presented against the companies themselves, certainly if you’re injured in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you have the ability to pursue the driver of the vehicle. Rob touched upon some of the different ways that the companies can be liable. But oftentimes, what we’re dealing with is trying to figure out which insurance company, or which insurance policy may be primary to cover any injuries, lost wages, or damages that you may have from an incident.

That’s where it really can be tricky to untangle. Is it the vehicle owner’s . . . an Uber driver’s insurance policy that comes into play, or is there another policy from Uber or from Lyft? And then, if there are multiple policies, which one is triggered first? Do they pay equally? Those are some of the issues that we see when presenting these claims and getting our clients compensated for their injuries and damages.

What to Expect in a Ride Sharing Lawsuit

John: Okay. If I have been in an accident with an Uber or a Lyft vehicle, and it results in a lawsuit, what are some of the things that I might expect during that ride sharing lawsuit?

Robert: Well, certainly you’re going to expect an aggressive defense by the team of lawyers that Uber or Lyft are going to hire. If we do bring in both the driver and the company into the lawsuit, there’s going to be two sets of lawyers. These are going to be well-heeled insurance defense law firms who are going to aggressively defend their positions, and they’re going to claim . . . probably point their fingers at each other to say that one has no responsibility, or that they have no responsibility at all for the crash.

You’re going to see written discovery that we’re going to have to answer. We’re going to have to look into the driver’s criminal and driving history. The defense lawyers are going to look into your medical history and your claims history; if you’ve made any other lawsuits or claims for injuries in the past, so you’re certainly going to expect an aggressive representation from us, as well as an aggressive defense from the other side.

John: Okay. Are there any other aspects of it that make a Uber or a Lyft lawsuit different from other types of accident lawsuits?

Kevin: They can be a little different and a little bit tricky in that you’re a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. The tricky part, John, is really gathering that information initially for the claim, and who to pursue, and to establish the facts as to why someone may be at-fault or may be responsible. But once that lawsuit gets filed, as far as the activity that happens, it’s pretty similar to a typical lawsuit, but the investigative phase, early on, and making sure you have the correct parties, and that you’re pursuing the correct defendants, with the proper insurance coverage as the most important part.

But, as Rob mentioned, you’ll have an aggressive defense from these insurance defense attorneys. We will exchange paperwork throughout the litigation process, take some depositions, and do everything that we can on your behalf to prove your case, and to prove that the defendants are responsible, and also to prove your injuries and your damages.

John: All right. That’s really great information, Robert and Kevin. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Robert & Kevin: Thank you, John.

John: And for more information on personal injury cases, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855-693-9084.

What Should I Do If My Uber Driver Is Distracted?

My Uber Driver Is DistractedUber drivers are often distracted by engaging with the Uber app, but like all other drivers, they may also be distracted by phone calls, eating, grooming, or even talking with other passengers. If you’re using a ridesharing service and your driver is distracted, you may wonder what you should do. To protect yourself, check out these tips.

1. Speak Up

Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving kills over 3,000 people every year. That is more than eight people per day. To put it into perspective, at a speed of 55 mph, looking down instead of at the road for just five seconds is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded.

If your driver is distracted, speak up. Let them know that you are not comfortable riding with them if they aren’t paying adequate attention. If you don’t feel comfortable saying something to the driver, trust your instincts and simply ask them to drop you off immediately.

2. Terminate the Ride

If you ask your driver to pay more attention to the road but they continue to engage with the distraction, you should terminate the ride. You can change the destination of the trip within the Uber app at any time before the driver swipes “end trip”. Just tap “enter destination” and type in a new address or select a location close to where the vehicle is currently located.

3. Leave a Review

After getting out of the Uber, make sure to leave a review. Drivers have a star rating that is the average of their last 500 rides, and your reviews can help to keep other drivers safe. If you don’t feel safe, give the driver a low star rating and consider leaving notes on what happened.

4. Alert Uber

You should also alert Uber that the driver was distracted during your journey. You can upload comments to the Uber site. The company has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol and requires drivers to be compliant with local laws. For instance, if local laws dictate that drivers can’t use cell phones while driving, you should let Uber know if one of their drivers does that.

5. Contact a Lawyer If Injured

If you are injured due to a distracted Uber driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. A ridesharing attorney can help you negotiate with the driver’s insurance company and/or bring a lawsuit against the driver or the ridesharing company.

To set up a no-cost case evaluation, contact us today. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we work hard to ensure all our clients receive the personal attention and the legal expertise they need when dealing with the aftermath of an accident or injury.

 

The Dangers of Ride Sharing Services (Podcast)

Ride sharing accidents are just like any other vehicle collision. There are some things to keep in mind, however. Attorneys Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of Mazow McCullough law firm discuss what to do if you’re in a ride sharing accident. Listen or read more to find out about ride sharing accidents

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. And today, we’re going to be talking about ride sharing accidents. Robert and Kevin, welcome.

Robert Mazow: Thank you, John.

Kevin McCullough: Thanks, John.

John: So, why don’t we start off with something basic. What is ride sharing? It’s kind of a new thing.

Robert: Ride sharing is the ability that we now have to access transportation without having to call for a private livery service or a cab. We have it on our phones. We have an app for things like Uber and Lyft. It gives us quick access and relatively inexpensive access to what’s hopefully safe transportation.

John: Right. How popular are ride sharing services now?

Kevin: Extremely popular, John. We’re seeing an uptick in the transportation services used by many consumers, whether it’s just for ease and traffic issues or conditions, commuting to and from work, commuting to and from different family events, or extracurricular activities as well. And also, if you’re looking to go out and enjoy a night out on the town or go to a particular event, it’s comforting to know that you have a safe and reliable ride home.

Ride Sharing Services – Dangers and Differences from Cabs

John: Okay. And we know, of course, that accidents happen with any type of vehicle, so you know, what are some of the dangers of ride sharing services?

Robert: Well, now that we’re seeing so many of these ride service vehicles on the road, we’re obviously seeing an increase in negligence. These drivers are on the road. They’re often driving for long periods of time. There doesn’t seem to be any requirements that they only drive for a certain amount of hours a day, so there’s certainly an element of driving while tired. So, we’re starting to see an increase in accidents, people getting hurt, people either getting hurt who are passengers in these vehicles or are pedestrians in these vehicles, or even drivers themselves are getting hurt as a result of other ride share drivers causing crashes.

John: Right. Are there some differences between accidents involving ride sharing services as opposed to cabs for that reason, because maybe there’s less regulations and things like that?

Robert: Yeah. Cabs have historically had lots of protections. They tend to have the basic minimal insurance coverage, where we’re starting to see in these ride share vehicles, there are different layers of insurance coverage that might be available. For instance, the driver would have his own, his or her own insurance policy, and many times, they pay extra to have another layer of coverage by a company that insures ride share kinds of vehicles, which does provide an advantage to some people who might be severely injured in a crash.

Accidents in a Ride Sharing Vehicle

John: Okay. So what are some of the things that happen when you get into an accident while you’re in a ride sharing vehicle.

Kevin: Similar to other collisions, John, the most important thing when you’re involved in a collision is just to make sure that you’re safe and that you’re okay, and that if you need medical treatment or attention, that you get that medical treatment or attention quickly. But, there is another layer that’s added on to a collision like this in that you really want to gather as much information early on as you can. Oftentimes, police may not be called to the scene of a collision. It’s important that if you have a telephone with you and you’ve been involved in a collision while using a ride share vehicle, that you do call the police, no matter what the other parties involved may think, just so that you can make sure that you have accurate information — accurate insurance information — and that things do get documented.

Whether or not there were any witnesses to the event, there could be other people in the vehicle with you, or just some bystanders who saw what happened. Sometimes, collisions occur in a busy city or a busy intersection, and cars take off. They flee the area. They flee the scene. So as much information that you can gather of an event, whether it’s what people may have seen or saw concerning the collision, as well as insurance information would be very helpful as far as presenting a claim later on.

John: Okay. Rob, any other thoughts about ride sharing accidents?

Robert: Yeah. I think what the benefit that we’re having is even if you are in a crash and you don’t happen to gather the information, particularly of the driver of the vehicle you’re in, you have it right on your phone, if you look at your phone, you look at your Uber app, you look at your Lyft app, the driver’s information is right there. The contact information is right there, so you should be okay if you don’t get any information upfront.

John: All right. That’s really great information, Robert and Kevin. Thank you for speaking with me today.

Kevin: Thank you, John.

Robert: Thank you, John.

John: And for more information on personal injury cases, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com. Or call 855-693-9084.

Can Ridesharing Companies Be Held Liable for Hiring Unsafe Drivers?

Hiring Unsafe DriversHave you been injured in a crash with an Uber driver? Were you injured while riding as a passenger in a Lyft? Was your ridesharing driver acting unsafely? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may be wondering if the ridesharing company is liable.

Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, ridesharing companies try to evade liability for accidents based on the concept that their drivers are independent contractors. In spite of that fact, these companies have a responsibility to keep their customers and other drivers on the road as safe as possible.

By extension, ridesharing companies may be liable for damages caused by hiring unsafe drivers. Here’s what you need to consider.

The Need for Due Diligence When Hiring Drivers

Ridesharing safety can vary depending on the driver, local safety requirements, and other factors. For example, in Massachusetts, laws require ridesharing drivers to be over 21, have at least a year of driving experience (three years if under the age of 23), hold an in-state license, and pass a background check. To ensure drivers meet these safety requirements, they undergo two background checks — one done by the ridesharing company and another done by the state.

In 2018, 15% of applicants failed the secondary state background check for reasons including a history of violent crimes, insufficient licensing history, or multiple driving offenses. The fact that these 30,000 applicants passed the initial background test indicates that the ridesharing companies may not be doing adequate screenings on their own. In cases where you can establish that the ridesharing company did not do its due diligence when bringing on drivers, you may be able to hold them liable for your damages.

Uber’s History with Marketing About Safety Issues

In 2014, Uber implemented a safe-ride fee that brought in about a half a billion dollars in revenue in a two-year period alone. Ostensibly, this fee was designed to ensure passengers were as safe as possible, but the company failed to live up to that promise. In the wake of a 2016 lawsuit, the company changed the name of this fee to a booking fee.

Uber also paid out a $25 million settlement for not being as safe as it claims, and at the same time, the company backed away from some of the safety language used in its marketing campaigns. For instance, prior to this lawsuit, Uber claimed its background checks were the best in the industry, but lawyers proved that the ridesharing company’s background checks were subpar to what most taxi companies do, so Uber stopped marketing from that angle.

Ridesharing Liability Coverage

Both the main ridesharing companies, Uber and Lyft, have liability coverage in place that can help to protect passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers, financially in the event of an accident. The coverage includes the following:

  • When the driver is not logged into the app — no coverage
  • When the driver is logged in but hasn’t accepted a ride request — $50,000 per injured person and up to $100,000 total injury liability per accident
  • When the driver has accepted a ride request — $1 million

Ridesharing drivers are also required to carry liability policies. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, ridesharing drivers are required to notify their insurers that they are driving professionally. This rule helps to ensure that the driver’s insurance company doesn’t reject claims related to ridesharing accidents. Usually, the ridesharing policies kick into effect after the liability limits on the driver’s coverage have been exhausted.

Establishing Liability

Whether the accident is covered under the ridesharing liability policy or not, the ridesharing company may still be held liable. In any personal injury or automobile accident case, you must establish the following four elements:

  • The liable entity has a duty of care to the victim
  • They breached that duty of care by acting negligently
  • Their negligence caused the victim’s injuries
  • The victim suffered damages as a result of the injury

When you use a ridesharing app, the ridesharing company essentially accepts a duty of care for your safety. Similarly, if a ridesharing company puts a driver on the road and the ridesharing company stands to profit from that driver, the ridesharing company also has a duty of care to the other drivers and pedestrians on the road.

If a ridesharing company fails to screen its drivers properly, it arguably breaches that duty of care, and if you suffer damages, the ridesharing company may be liable. Damages include medical bills, damage to your vehicle, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other economic or noneconomic damages suffered as a result of the accident.

If you have been involved in an accident with an Uber driver or while you were a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle, you deserve fair compensation. At the time of writing, Uber is projected to be worth $69 billion, while Lyft is valued at about $23 billion. These companies should be held responsible when their unsafe hiring practices lead to your injuries.

To set up a no-cost case evaluation, contact us today. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we represent clients in all kinds of personal injury cases including against ridesharing drivers and companies.

Are Ridesharing Accidents More Common than Accidents with Other Commercial Vehicles

Ridesharing AccidentsUnfortunately, there isn’t a lot of data comparing commercial accidents with ridesharing accidents. However, you can get a sense of the potential safety levels by looking at other related numbers. Here is what you need to consider.  

Are Ridesharing Accidents More Common than Other Commercial Accidents?

Between 2009 and 2017, fatalities with large trucks increased by 30%, and now, over 4,000 people die from these deaths annually. Generally, 68% of the victims are occupants of other vehicles, 17% are truck occupants, and 14% are pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. Commercial trucks are involved with 22% of multiple-vehicle accidents and about 12% of all crashes.

 

In contrast, there aren’t numbers breaking out the percentage of traffic accidents that involve ridesharing services, but the growing number of these vehicles on the road is likely to have a significant impact on accident rates. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of ridesharing drivers in many large cities quadrupled. In New York City alone, these are over 117,000 ridesharing drivers, and on average, these drivers log about 50,000 miles per year.

 

Based on these numbers, ridesharing drivers are driving about 5.85 billion miles in New York City alone. In contrast, commercial trucks drive a total of 432 billion miles per year around the entire country. Drivers are likely to encounter both of these vehicles on the road, but are they more likely to crash with a ridesharing vehicle or a commercial vehicle? Unfortunately, there aren’t comparable numbers, but there is research illustrating the potential effect ridesharing has on accident rates in cities throughout the country.

Does Ridesharing Increase Accidents?

The rise of ridesharing services has potentially created an increase in traffic accidents. According to a study from the University of Chicago and Rice University, traffic-accident-related deaths have increased by 2 to 3% since 2011 — that’s 1,100 additional traffic-related mortalities per year. Prior to ridesharing services becoming popular, traffic deaths had fallen to their lowest number since 1949.

 

However, a study from the Cato Institute, done by researchers from Western Carolina University and published in the Southern Economic Journal, indicates the opposite effect. Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these researchers found that fatal accidents decline by about 1.6% after the introduction of Uber, and in particular, alcohol-related and nighttime crashes decrease in areas with ridesharing services. The researchers also noted a 0.8% decline per month, in arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) and similar declines in several other types of crime.   

 

The above numbers don’t necessarily indicate that traveling with a ridesharing service is any more or less dangerous than riding in a taxi, on a bus, or in your own car. Instead, these numbers indicate the overall impact that ridesharing services are having on cities.

How Does Ridesharing Affect Cities?

In general, ridesharing services increase congestion, and the extra traffic levels lead to more accidents. When ridesharing services launch in an area, its residents begin using public transit less frequently. At the same time, ridesharing drivers spend a lot of time prowling the roads waiting for fares. On average, these drivers spend 40 to 60% of their time without a fare, and they drive an average of 2.8 miles between fares.

How Does Ridesharing Affect Massachusetts?

Like much of the rest of the world, Massachusetts residents have quickly embraced ridesharing services. Uber launched its services in Massachusetts in 2011. In the first four years in the city, the service gave 28 million rides to 1.75 million people. Those rides added up to 115 million miles, and of course, that doesn’t take into account the miles driven between fares. On Friday and Saturday nights in Boston alone, the service manages about 70,000 journeys, and when people need a professional driver, 45% hire a ride sharing service, 32% get a taxi, and 23% use a rental car.

Has Ridesharing Increased Accident Rates?

While ridesharing services have grown in popularity, accident and fatality rates around the state have also increased. From 2015 to 2016, Massachusetts had a 20% increase in motor vehicle fatalities. In Boston, driving is even more dangerous. Boston is ranked last in a list of 200 most dangerous cities for driving in the United States. On average, Bostonians are in an accident every three years, and in general, the average is 10 years. In other words, your risk of being in an accident is 157.7% more likely if you are driving in Boston, but it isn’t clear whether you are more likely to be in an accident with a commercial vehicle or a ridesharing service.

 

Analysts linked the increase in accidents to more distracted drivers and to lower gas prices drawing more drivers onto the roads. However, the above cited research from the University of Chicago and Rice University indicates that the increase in fatalities may actually be linked to ridesharing services as well as to these other culprits.

 

Whether ridesharing has a positive or negative impact on traffic safety is still being determined. However, if you are in an accident, these stats and numbers don’t matter. Instead of getting bogged down in the numbers, you need to be focused on your own journey toward health and healing. After an accident, you may face medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and countless other damages, and that can be stressful to manage on your own.

 

You need an accident attorney who can help you fight for your rights. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we help clients who have been affected by accidents with commercial vehicles and ridesharing services. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us today.

Who is Liable in a Ridesharing Accident?

Liable in a Ridesharing AccidentIf you’re in a car accident caused by a ridesharing driver, you may have to deal with injuries, expensive medical bills, lost time at work, pain and suffering, and other issues. This can become costly and frustrating. If the ridesharing driver caused the accident, they may be liable for your injuries. In some cases, the ridesharing company or even the vehicle manufacturer may bear liability. Here’s a closer look at who is liable in a ridesharing accident.

Personal Liability for Ridesharing Drivers

If the ridesharing driver caused the accident, they may be liable. Unfortunately, however, many ridesharing drivers are underinsured. They often just have personal car insurance, but because they are driving professionally, they need commercial insurance. As a result, if an accident happens while they are picking up fares for the ride share company, their insurer may reject the claim and cancel the policy.

Luckily, in Massachusetts, you have a bit of extra protection. A 2016 law requires all drivers to tell their insurer if they are driving for Uber, Lyft, or any other ride sharing service. As a result, drivers in this state should all have policies that cover both personal and professional driving.

Massachusetts law requires ride sharing drivers to have liability insurance that provides at least $50,000 per individual for bodily damage, $100,000 per accident for bodily damage, $30,000 for property damage, and personal injury protection. However, if your injuries are extensive, these minimums may not be adequate to cover your damages. In those situations, you need a ridesharing accident attorney who can help you figure out how to go after the driver’s personal assets or who can help you identify another liable party.

The At-Fault Driver

Typically in car accidents, the at-fault driver is responsible. If you are riding in an Uber or Lyft and another driver causes a crash with that vehicle, the other driver may be liable for your injuries, and their insurance policy may have to cover the cost of your damages. However, even in these cases, the driver of the ridesharing car may still be held responsible.

If you are driving your own vehicle and you get into an accident with a ridesharing driver, the ridesharing driver or their company is liable if they caused the accident. If you caused the accident, you are liable for your own injuries. In some cases, both drivers can be held partially responsible. This is called comparative liability, and you cannot receive a settlement unless the other driver is responsible for over half of the accident. In these situations, your settlement usually gets reduced by the portion of your liability. For instance, if the courts determine that you were liable for 20% of the accident, your settlement gets reduced by 20%.

Liability for the Ridesharing Company

On top of the requirements for drivers, Massachusetts also requires ridesharing services to have a $1 million liability policy in place. The 2016 law only specifies that this policy needs to cover accidents that occur when the driver has a paying passenger in the vehicle. However, most ride-sharing companies had this type of liability policy in place before these laws came into effect.

If the driver does not have a passenger in the car, the liability can fall on either the driver or the ridesharing company. In previous cases, ridesharing companies have tried to argue that they were not liable for accidents that occurred when the driver didn’t have a ridesharing passenger, but lawyers have successfully won settlements from ridesharing companies in cases where the driver didn’t have a passenger but was logged into the app. This typically comes into play when the driver hits another vehicle or a pedestrian in between fares.

Vehicle Manufacturers

With all automobile accidents, the manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts may be liable if faulty parts caused the accident or made the injuries worse. To give you an example, imagine someone is a passenger in an Uber. The car gets rear-ended by another driver. The injuries may have been minor, but a faulty airbag in the Uber explodes, leading to extensive injuries for the driver and the passengers.

Typically in this type of accident, the driver who caused the accident is liable. However, in this situation, the airbags made the injuries worse. As a result, the airbag manufacturer is likely to be liable for some if not all the injuries.

Because liability in ridesharing accidents isn’t always straightforward, you need to work with an attorney who understands the nuances in these cases. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we are well versed in ridesharing liability, and we may be able to help you. Contact us today to set up a free case evaluation and to learn more about your rights when you’re involved in a ridesharing accident.

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