Ridesharing refers to the process of using an app to summon a driver to take you somewhere in their personal vehicle. Led by companies such as Lyft and Uber, ridesharing has become incredibly popular over the last decade. Riders find these services to be convenient, easy-to-use, and often less expensive than taxis. However, anytime you get into a vehicle there is a risk of getting into an accident.
Have you been injured while riding as a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle? Was your vehicle involved in a car accident involving a ridesharing driver? Were you hit by a ridesharing driver while walking or cycling? If so, you may be entitled to compensation. The team at Mazow | McCullough, PC can help.
Normally in a car crash, the at-fault driver is liable for the damages, but if they are working when they cause the accident, their employer is liable. With ridesharing services, the liability isn’t always as clear, which is why you need a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your corner.
Ridesharing services typically only claim liability when their drivers are actively using the app. If the drivers are logged in but don’t have a passenger in the car, Uber and Lyft both have a modest liability policy in place to cover accidents; however, this coverage simply isn’t enough to cover extensive damages to pedestrians and property. In these cases, you need a ridesharing accident attorney who understands how to successfully make a claim against these companies even when their coverage isn’t adequate.
When a passenger is in the vehicle, both Uber and Lyft have $1 million liability policies in place, and in fact, Massachusetts law requires these companies to carry liability policies in that amount. If liability cannot be established against the ridesharing service, the driver may be held personally liable. Unfortunately, ridesharing drivers often use personal insurance policies, and their insurers reject claims related to commercial accidents. Luckily, in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, drivers are required to notify their insurers so that doesn’t happen.
After an accident with a ridesharing driver, you may face a range of damages. In accident and injury cases, damages refer to any costs you incur as a result of the accident, any future losses you’re likely to face, and significant changes to your lifestyle, emotional state, or physical abilities. The damages can vary from case to case. To ensure you receive a fair settlement that truly meets your financial needs, you should work with an attorney who has experience estimating damages and obtaining generous settlements for clients — that’s what we do at Mazow | McCullough, PC.
Damages may include the following:
When you set up a no obligation case evaluation, your attorney can help you assess the damages related to your case.
If you suffer damages due to a ridesharing driver’s negligence or due to the ridesharing company’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. In personal injury cases, compensation is based on your damages. However, there are legal caps on some claims, and if you are determined to be personally liable for part of the accident, comparative liability can reduce your compensation.
As indicated above, liability is not always clear in cases against ridesharing services and drivers. In most cases, it’s usually more advantageous to bring the claim against the service rather than the driver, simply because ridesharing services have larger insurance policies and more assets than most individual drivers.
However, to protect their bottom lines, these companies and their insurers will try to fight against claims. At the same time, your attorney will try to unearth reasons why they are liable. For instance, New Hampshire state law requires ridesharing drivers to have no convictions for sexual offenses, property damage, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or using motor vehicles to commit felonies in the last seven years. If you are injured in an accident with a driver that did not meet these criteria, the ridesharing service may be liable.
In some cases, your lawyer may identify other liable parties. If faulty airbags or tires, for example, caused the injuries to be worse than they should have been, your attorney may advise you to bring a claim against the manufacturer of those components.
As a rule of thumb, ridesharing companies have large liability plans in place, applying to accidents that occur when the ridesharing driver has a passenger in the vehicle. These companies tend to have slightly reduced coverage for accidents that occur when the driver is logged into the app but doesn’t have a passenger. The driver’s insurance applies in other cases. Making ridesharing insurance claims can be complicated, and you may want to consult with a legal professional so they can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company.
If you’re thinking about making a legal claim against a ridesharing company, you should understand the lawsuit process. Often, you can keep the issue out of court and come to a satisfactory resolution relatively quickly by working with an arbitrator or a mediator. However, in other cases, you need to be ready to go to court to ensure that you are fairly compensated for all the current and future damages you incurred as a result of the ridesharing accident.
After an accident, you have a limited amount of time to bring a claim against the at-fault driver. In most cases, the statute of limitations for ridesharing accidents is three years, but the time limit can vary based on the type of accident and the damages involved. To be on the safe side, you should consult with a ridesharing attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Ridesharing puts more vehicles on the road, and as a result, when ridesharing companies come into an area, traffic density increases — which often leads to more accidents. In some cases, these accidents directly involve Lyft, Uber, or other ridesharing companies. Tragically, many fatalities have occurred to ridesharing passengers and occupants of other vehicles.
Unfortunately, ridesharing drivers have hit and injured or killed pedestrians in multiple parts of the country. Ridesharing companies often try to deny liability for these accidents, unless the driver has a passenger in the vehicle. Arguably, these companies should face responsibility for accidents that happen when their drivers are distracted by the app or rushing to pick up a passenger.
Ridesharing companies screen their drivers and try not to hire drivers with histories of drunk driving, accidents, or traffic tickets, but research shows that the screening process has a lot of room for error. If a ridesharing driver is intoxicated, they put their passengers and other drivers on the road at risk of grievous injuries. Ridesharing passengers and drivers also need to be aware of the risks associated with other intoxicated drivers.
Like all accidents, ridesharing accidents are caused by a range of different reasons. Speeding and reckless driving play a large role, but often, drivers are simply distracted and not paying adequate attention to the road. The combination of engaging with the ridesharing app, talking with passengers, and driving unfamiliar routes creates a perfect storm where ridesharing drivers may be more prone to getting in accidents than other drivers. Additionally, these drivers usually aren’t as experienced as other professional drivers, potentially heightening the risk of an accident
Ridesharing accidents can cause extensive injuries and even death. Injuries include impact and penetrating injuries, but accidents can also lead to or exacerbate mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All these injuries can be debilitating and expensive, causing significant upheaval to your life. If you are severely injured after a ridesharing accident, you should contact an attorney to help you negotiate with the ridesharing company’s insurance provider, and to bring a lawsuit against the driver or the ridesharing company if needed.
To protect yourself, you need to understand a few ridesharing safety essentials. Tragically, people have been injured or have even died after getting into the wrong car or not protecting themselves in other ways. Before using a ridesharing service such as Lyft or Uber, you should review the list of safety tips in this resource.
Uber and Lyft have safety mechanisms in place so that riders can verify their drivers before they get into the vehicle. To ensure you’re getting into the right car, you should verify the driver’s name, check the license plate number with the information in the app, and make sure the driver knows your name. To learn more about how to verify your driver, check out the following resource link.
Being in an accident with a ridesharing driver can be scary. Whether you’re the driver of the ridesharing vehicle, the driver of another vehicle, or a ridesharing passenger, there is a certain protocol you should follow after an accident. The right steps help to protect your health while also safeguarding your ability to make an insurance claim or bring forward a lawsuit if necessary.
You should never handle an accident privately. Legally, you should report all accidents to the authorities. Without an accident report, making an insurance claim or holding the other driver liable for your injuries or damages can become impossible. Check out the following resource page to learn what you should do if your ridesharing driver wants to handle an accident privately.
Ridesharing companies use websites or apps to facilitate travel arrangements where drivers use their own vehicles to transport passengers. The drivers work as independent contractors and are not directly employed by the ridesharing companies. Passengers can opt to rideshare with other people taking similar routes, or they can order a vehicle just for themselves and their party.
Uber has a presence in over 60 countries and over 700 cities around the world. Estimated to bring in more than $11 billion in revenue annually, this company offers ridesharing services, ride service hailing, food delivery through Uber Eats, and bicycle-sharing services through JumpBikes. Established in 2009, Uber is based in San Francisco, and the company is known for disrupting the transportation industry.
Founded in 2012, three years after Uber, Lyft is the second largest ride sharing service in the world, and as of 2018, it brings in about $2 billion in revenue per year. Lyft operates in over 650 cities throughout the United States and Canada.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we represent clients who have been in ridesharing accidents in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If you have been in an accident, contact us today. We can start with a free case evaluation and help you decide which steps to take next. Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be scary, expensive, and time consuming. Let us help you get through this situation as easily and painlessly as possible.