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.