Ridesharing companies have revolutionized the transportation industry.
These services provide an unparalleled level of convenience and cost-effectiveness for commuters around the country. However, with the increase of these ridesharing companies comes an increase in accidents associated with them.
The laws and insurance controlling companies like Uber and Lyft are constantly changing, which is why it's important to know your rights and stay up to date on them in case you get in an accident or are struck by an Uber or Lyft driver.
What Is Uber?
The landmark ridesharing company Uber was founded in San Francisco in 2009, then known as UberCab. The company aimed to provide a cheaper alternative to hiring private drivers by pooling the costs with other riders. This eventually lead to the massive company that is now known internationally today, offering private and shared transportation through just a few taps on a smartphone.
Uber isn't the only ridesharing company out there. It shares the road with Lyft, another notable ridesharing organization that aims to be more transparent in their trip details and receipts. Both Uber and Lyft started gaining traction when riders realized how simple it was to grab a ride using the smartphone app.
What Is Ridesharing?
This revolution of transportation has dramatically changed how people get around. Through a few taps on a smartphone, riders can rent out drivers for either carpooling or private ride options. Just like taxi services, Uber or Lyft drivers use their own vehicles and provide rides to the specific destinations you request at fairly economical prices.
Rideshare Services vs. Taxi Services
While both services focus on transporting passengers from one location to another, one of the major differences is the way ridesharing services and taxis charge customers. While Uber and Lyft do not charge based on moving or stop-and-go-traffic, they still charge surge rates for when there’s a higher volume of traffic on the road.
What You Need to Know About Rideshare Accidents
For all the conveniences ridesharing apps offer, the process of handling insurance claims due to an Uber or Lyft accident is complicated. While Uber has made strides since their early beginnings to make their insurance policies less convoluted, they are still extremely complicated and can leave injured victims in the dark.
Why Uber and Lyft Car Accidents Are Complex: Insurance Covers Certain Circumstances
The unfortunate reality is both Uber and Lyft are difficult to work with if one of their drivers causes an accident because they generally take a “hands-off” approach to many claims. This is due partly to the fact that ridesharing drivers are independent contractors, so they carry their own insurance coverage in addition to Uber’s additional coverage.
Uber’s insurance coverage, however, only covers drivers and passengers under certain circumstances:
A ridesharing driver is considered “offline” when they are in their vehicle but not using the app. Any accidents during the offline period are handled by the driver’s own personal insurance policy.
Ridesharing drivers are considered “available” when they’re in their vehicle and on the app waiting to accept. While drivers are covered by Uber’s insurance coverage for liability only when “available,” it’s only for a limited amount — $50,000 injury, $25,000 property, and $100,000 total.
When a driver has accepted a ride and is on their way to pick up the passenger, they’re considered “en route.” All en-route drivers are covered by Uber’s full insurance coverage at this time: $1 million liability, $1million uninsured/underinsured motorist injury, and contingent collision/comprehensive.
When a driver has picked up the passenger and is bringing them to their destination, they’re considered “on a trip.” All on trip drivers are covered by Uber’s full insurance coverage during this time.
How Fault Is Determined in Rideshare Car Accident Cases
So, who is at fault in a rideshare accident? It depends on the nature of the crash and what circumstances the driver was in at the time of the crash.
If Uber or Lyft is determining how much money you will receive from your accident, you can trust them as a major corporation that they will not have your best interests in mind.
It can be difficult to gain the compensation you deserve in a ridesharing accident. While regular car accident claims are already difficult enough, Uber or Lyft will force you to work with your own insurance company, Uber’s corporate insurer, and the Uber driver’s personal insurance company — which causes extra complications.
If you’re stuck in this situation and feel like you’re being pressured to settle, it’s time to turn to legal help.
6 Common Causes of Uber and Lyft Car Accidents
There may be numerous causes of your Uber and Lyft car accident, but these six causes are generally responsible for accidents.
One of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in general, distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in a secondary activity that interferes with the primary task of operating a vehicle. Drivers can be distracted in many ways by things inside or outside of the vehicle, such as:
- Speaking on the phone (including hands-free)
- Operating electronic devices, including the radio, mp3 players, GPS devices, and DVD or CD players
- Children, pets, and other passengers in the car
- Eating and drinking
While these are just a few examples, distracted driving occurs with ridesharing drivers especially when they are looking at their GPS or typing in information to get them to the right location.
Ridesharing drivers can choose their hours, which means they can work as many hours or as late as they want. Many use Uber or Lyft to supplement their additional income, which means they may have already worked long hours previously.
All of this can lead to driver fatigue, which is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. In fact, driver fatigue can have the same effect on drivers as those who drive at or slightly above the legal blood alcohol limit.
Scanning for Passengers
Uber and Lyft drivers have to scan sidewalks, storefronts, and driveways looking for the right passenger. This can result in sudden stops, slow driving, and driver inattention that can cause accidents. Dropping off passengers in busy traffic areas can also result in dangerous situations.
If the Uber or Lyft driver isn’t maintaining their vehicle properly, tire blowouts, brake issues, and other car malfunctions can occur and result in accidents.
Driving Under the Influence
Ridesharing options can discourage people from driving while intoxicated, but there may be the unfortunate reality that the Uber or Lyft driver may be driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Forms of reckless driving, such as tailgating and speeding, can result in devastating accidents that can lead to serious injuries or worse.
The Cost of Hiring an Uber Accident Lawyer
Most Uber accident lawyers work under a "contingency fee" agreement. A contingency fee agreement means any attorneys involved do not get paid unless they are able to obtain some kind of financial compensation for the client.
While most Uber accident lawyers will charge a contingency fee percentage of one-third of the settlement, some contingency fee percentages can range anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent.
Many reputable attorneys offer free initial consultations, during which they assess your case to determine a plan and make inferences about how it will play out in court. Consultations are one of the best ways to find the right representation for your case since they are non-binding and should be at no charge.
The Value of Winning a Rideshare Accident Lawsuit
Winning an Uber accident lawsuit allows you to receive the compensation you’re entitled to. Some of the types of damages that people have recovered with a lawsuit include:
- Emergency services
- Hospitalization and medical fees
- Prescription drug bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of childcare and/or household management
- Lost abilities from permanent injuries
- Long-term medical care for serious or permanent injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Damages to their vehicle and other property
If a person died because of a rideshare accident, the victim’s surviving family members may be entitled to types of damages similar to the ones above, as well as the ones below:
- Burial or cremation costs
- Funeral costs
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance
Types of Rideshare Accidents
The potential compensation and settlement you will gain from your ridesharing accident depend on the ride status of the driver as well as the nature of the accident.
For Uber or Lyft accidents when the driver is logged into the app but hasn’t picked up any passengers yet and is at fault, you may be eligible for the following coverage through the driver’s rideshare insurance plan:
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damages
This coverage is offered as third-party liability for damages that are not covered by your personal auto insurance.
If the ridesharing driver is not logged into the app and gets into an accident, then they will not be eligible for rideshare insurance coverage. Their own personal auto insurance policy must be used to cover damages.
Accident While Ridesharing Car is Parked
If you get into an accident with a ridesharing driver while they are logged into their app and waiting to pick up a customer and you’re not a fault, you will have access to the same coverage as if they were available.
If you get into an accident with a ridesharing driver while they are en route to pick up a passenger, you are eligible for coverage offered if a passenger was in the vehicle. This coverage includes:
- $50,000 for bodily injury per person
- $100,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 for property damages
Remember that some coverage amounts may vary by location in order to comply with state laws and regulations.
If you get into an accident with a ridesharing vehicle with a passenger, you're eligible for $1 million liability coverage. However, this is only while a paying passenger is in the vehicle.
Your Next Steps for Your Rideshare Car Accident Case
If you’re preparing for a rideshare car accident case, getting legal help is integral. However, finding the right Uber accident lawyer can often be tough. When seeking out professional legal representation for your injury claim, there are a few key things you can do that will make finding the right attorney simple.
When to Look for a Good Automobile Accident Law Firm
While you can file a personal injury lawsuit up to two years from the date of the car accident, you cannot collect damages once this statute of limitations deadline has passed.
However, you should start looking for an automobile accident law firm that specializes in Lyft and Uber car accidents immediately after you receive medical help so you can receive your compensation as soon as possible. Since it’s pretty common for a personal injury suit to take one or two years or more, it's important to get started as soon as possible.
What to Look for When You Choose an Uber Accident Lawyer
After you have a list of possible rideshare attorneys for your case, you can begin setting up interviews with about three to five attorneys. There are several things to pay attention to, whether you speak with them in person or over the phone.
- Experience level
- Whether or not they have a good understanding of your case
- Good communication skills
- Being available and prompt in their responses
- Rapport-building skills
Questions to Ask Uber Accident Lawyers
When thinking about questions to ask a potential rideshare attorney, make sure to focus on the attorney’s background and experience with related cases.
Some questions you should always ask a rideshare attorney include:
- How involved will you be with my case?
- What out-of-pocket expenses should I expect to pay?
- What is the average settlement amount for cases similar to mine?
- Do you offer free consultations?
- How much of your practice is dedicated to Uber car accident cases?
- What is your fee structure?
Get Started With the Best Florida Uber Accident Lawyers
Being involved in either a Lyft or Uber car accident can be traumatic, which can be made worse by the complicated insurance process of ridesharing companies. The good news is that if you or someone you love is facing this dilemma, the attorneys at Lowman Law Firm can help you navigate these unfamiliar legal waters. We have handled many Uber and Lyft cases and know how to handle these difficult and ever-changing cases.
Our compassionate and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys are users of Uber and Lyft just like you, and we rigorously study and remain up-to-date on the changing laws regarding these types of personal injury cases. With Lowman, you’ll always work with a dedicated attorney who will be available to you by phone or text message to discuss your case. Speak with one of our lawyers today to discuss your rights and next steps.
Our lawyers serve several jurisdictions, counties, and cities of Florida, including Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Jacksonville, Orlando, Polk County, Monroe County, Citrus County, Lake County, and others.