The growth of ridesharing industry means new professional and financial opportunities for most people. It may also indicate an increasing number of problems not previously considered in the transportation sector. A recent study conducted by researchers at University of Chicago and Rice University in Houston revealed that there has been about 3% increase in fatal vehicle accident following the advent of ride-sharing services.
While the study acknowledged the outstanding benefits associated with these services, its findings revealed that there is a flip side that must be weighted too: some of the costs associated with these services are trivial and are often measured in terms of human lives due to the increased rate of traffic accidents. Applying the United States Department of Transportation’s numerical value of a human life, the potential negative impact on an economy from the lives lost is about $10 billion!
Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services have also revolutionized transportation in the United States and other countries, replacing taxis and other similar options. Before the advent and rise of ridesharing economy, people would hire a tax or opt for any other form of paid transport service. It was also easy to get a family member, or a friend drive you. Currently, organizations such as Lyft and Uber have somewhat blurred these lines.
This is the one of the most complicated lawsuits.
First, Lyft and Uber drivers aren’t employees as Lyft and Uber don’t own their cars. The primary difference between taxis and Uber services involve the pricing strategy and the specific process of acquiring the services. Travelers hire Lyft or Uber via an app instead of flagging down a cab on the street. Note that the technical nature of ridesharing services may not have a more significant impact on the determination of liability and acquiring compensation in case of an accident.
If you were involved in an Uber or Lyft accident and suffered injuries, it’s wise to seek legal help as soon as possible. Remember, one or more entities may be to blame for the accident, and the lawyer can help you figure out who to sue, when, and why.
You have about three options for insurance coverage if you intend to pursue a personal injury claim. The first option is using the personal coverage of the Lyft or Uber driver. However, this is rarely applicable. Many ridesharing drivers lack commercial insurance cover or even a provision in their car insurance that covers damages to passengers when working with companies such as Lyft and Uber. To the contrary, insurance companies often include commercial use exclusions in personal vehicle insurance cover. This would exclude injuries that may occur when the policyholder is at work as a driver for a profit.
In case another driver was at fault for the accident, the injured party may need to access that driver’s insurance policy to cover the injuries and other damages. It is possible to make a third-party claim to the other driver’s insurer and probably file a personal injury claim in case they are unwilling to compensate you. This is good enough if the crash and your injuries are minor and the at-fault driver had enough coverage. Sometimes, the coverage may not be adequate to compensate you.
Ultimately, if you were a passenger of a Lyft or Uber driver and you’ve been involved in a severe car accident, the law allows you to file a personal injury claim against the company’s third-party liability insurer. Both Lyft and Uber offer up to $1 million for property damage and injuries sustained in a crash. They also offer the same amount via their underinsured or uninsured insurance coverage. Note that Lyft and Uber coverage will only take effect once the victim of the accident has exhausted the driver’s personal insurance.
In case you intend to make a claim against the ridesharing organization’s UIM or UM insurance coverage, you must show that the driver responsible for the accident didn’t have enough insurance to offer a full compensate you for property damages and the injuries. Also, if you were involved in a hit and run crash, the ridesharing company’s insurer may intervene.
If you got injured and you were in another vehicle, it’s possible to pursue a claim against the driver’s liability coverage. This is just like any other car accident lawsuit. Note that the driver’s individual policy may not cover crashes when the driver is driving for income, you can still file a claim against Lyft or ridesharing company’s policy.
However, complications are likely to arise if the Uber driver was carrying a person who didn’t hire them via the company’s app. Besides, if the driver wasn’t logged into the app at the time of the accident, the ridesharing company’s insurance coverage may not apply. But the Uber driver’s individual insurance coverage will apply and becomes the victim’s primary recourse.
Generally, it’s not possible to sue Lyft or Uber directly because their drivers are often considered independent contractors rather than employees. In this case, vicarious liability doesn’t apply in many states. But this situation is a little bit blurry in California. Everyone using Lyft and Uber services must note that these companies have carefully stayed away from their drivers and probably shielded themselves from various allegations of assuming direct liability in case an accident. The good news is that their insurance coverage will always kick in when necessary. However, you need an experienced lawyer to make it happen.