Can I Sue If My Uber or Lyft Driver Gets into an Accident?
What do you do when the unthinkable happens? No one wants to imagine being in an accident, certainly not a serious one, or even a fender bender, but a little knowledge in advance and some preparation, will go a long way if you do find yourself in a rideshare vehicle accident. In such a situation, legal help from Uber and Lyft car accident attorneys in Florida maximizes the probability of receiving compensation against the injuries sustained in the ride sharing accident.
If you’re involved in a rideshare accident you will undoubtedly have questions. You may wonder what your coverage is, who is responsible for your coverage, how will it affect your health insurance and what will your health insurance cover, can you sue the driver, etc.
In most cases, you will probably not be filing a lawsuit against the rideshare company itself, as rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft do not classify drivers as employees, but as independent contractors. As such, the rideshare company may deny liability when drivers are involved in accidents, and there is precedent in that regard. It is a commonly held opinion amongst seasoned litigators that it is often extremely difficult to hold a company responsible for alleged violations by independent contractors. As is true with most personal injury cases, the options vary depending on existing laws of the state. But in all cases, scenarios, and situations, there are some basic things you can do if you find yourself in a rideshare vehicle accident.
STEPS TO TAKE:
As the Passenger
- Call for emergency medical assistance if there are any injuries. And even if there are no obvious injuries, it is still a good idea to call for emergency medical help because some injuries could be less obvious and might only be observed by a trained medical professional. And also, an official medical report helps to document your case.
- Canvas the area as quickly as possible to gather witnesses and be sure to get their complete contact information, from email to phone, addresses, etc.
- Take many photos of the scene, the vehicle or vehicles involved, the area, and anything else that could prove helpful.
- Gather the name and contact information of your driver. Even if you think you have all you need in the app, get a separate set of information with your driver’s name and contacts (email, phone, etc.)
- Take some screen shots of the Uber or Lyft app showing your ride information as well as receipt.
- Consult with an experienced rideshare attorney to ensure you get the coverage and restitution you are entitled to receive.
Rideshare companies offer coverage that is sometimes based on driving periods. But when the accident happens during your actual trip, and your driver is at fault, you are then covered by a $1 million liability policy that is carried by both of the big rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, the suit would be brought against the driver, not the rideshare company, for that you need legal assistance of an experienced uber and lyft car accident attorneys in Florida. Copies of all lawsuit documents should be served to the driver and the insurance company also. Additionally, your attorney should send preservation of evidence letters to the rideshare company and the driver to make certain that they preserve all data and potential evidence. And in some states, a suit can be brought against a party that fails to do so.
Regarding situations in which the other driver is at fault, meaning your rideshare driver was driving lawfully and did not cause the accident, the other driver’s personal insurance policy will probably be the first line of coverage. Sometimes personal policies are insufficient to cover serious injuries resulting in large medical bills, and for that reason, Uber and Lyft have underinsured motorist policies that may go into effect.
Again, most lawsuits would not be brought against the rideshare company directly; however, there are circumstances in which the rideshare company should be sued. For example, if the rideshare company failed to perform a proper background check to prevent potential problem drivers from being hired then this could be grounds for a case. An obvious example of negligence on the rideshare company’s part would be if they hired a sex offender and that offender then violated a passenger. But in most cases, the lawsuit would be brought against the driver at fault.
For Those Who are Not Passengers
The steps are more obvious if you’re the passenger, but for those involved in rideshare accidents who are not defined as passengers, the process can be more complicated. For off-duty drivers and other accident parties, the steps to coverage may be more difficult to grasp. If a rideshare driver is involved in an accident when he or she is off duty, using their vehicle for personal reasons, Uber and Lyft’s $1 million policy may not come into play at all. In these cases you would more than likely make the claim against the driver’s personal policy. And this is typically also true if the driver is in fact on duty but does not have a passenger in his or her vehicle at the time the accident occurs. To be clear, however, if they do have a passenger in their vehicle and they hit a bystander or pedestrian, etc., then the big dollar Uber or Lyft insurance coverage will be in effect to cover the accident.
It is important to note that some states, such as California and Washington for example, have laws that require rideshare companies’ insurance to apply even when the rideshare driver has no passenger. In states that have these more comprehensive laws in place, rideshare drivers are covered upon logging into their rideshare app up until the moment they log out. Each state is different so it is important to be familiar with the laws of the state in which you are driving, or riding, and uber and lyft car accident attorneys in Florida can help you in providing all the necessary information as well as legal assistance in case of any unpleasant incident.
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