The rideshare industry has greatly expanded over the last decade. Uber and Lyft have made it easier, more efficient, and much more convenient for people to get from one place to another. Service is faster and rates are cheaper. The yellow cab monopolies have been broken across the country, and consumers—passengers—are more in control. To remake the reality of private transportation, the rideshare companies have enlisted ordinary drivers. Just about anyone with a car and a license can become an Uber of Lyft driver. The driving records of individuals who shuttle passengers from place to place do not come under a great deal of scrutiny. Nor do drivers receive any extensive training. People are allowed to offer private transportation services without any qualifications.
On the one hand, most people have benefitted from the high pool of available drivers and the low fares they charge. On the other hand, this has put a lot of people in danger. As the rideshare companies expanded their services, the number of accidents involving rideshare drivers has increased. Although many Uber and Lyft drivers are perfectly safe on the road, others are not. They break traffic laws, take unnecessary risks, and make themselves available to passengers when they are not fit to be on the road.
If you are a passenger who has been injured in an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you do have the right to seek compensation. An Uber accident lawyer or Lyft accident lawyer can help you get the money you are entitled to.
You Can Act After a Collision
The thing to always keep in mind when in a rideshare vehicle is that you are not being driven by a professional; you are being driven by an amateur. After an accident, you cannot trust that your driver will have the presence of mind to act wisely and with dispatch.
There are two general categories of accident: minor and severe.
If you were in a minor accident that caused a minimum amount of damage to each vehicle and minor injury to yourself, you should take action if your driver does not. You should not overstrain yourself, and you should not get out of the vehicle. If your body was violently jerked forward and you were bruised and shaken, you don’t know the repercussions of this injury. You should call 911 if the driver does not. You should give them your location and tell them the injuries you have suffered as well as the physical condition of the driver. You need go no further than this. If your injuries turn out to be worse than what they seem at the time, you don’t want to do anything that may make it plausible for the rideshare company to claim that your actions contributed to this condition.
After you have made the phone call, you should await the arrival of police and ambulance services. You should then go immediately to the hospital for a thorough examination, and it is best to let the ambulance take you there.
If You Have Suffered Life Changing Injuries
The other category of injury is the one most dreaded. If the accident was especially bad, it may cause severe injuries. In this instance, you may not remember anything that happened after the accident. You may be knocked unconscious and not made aware of your condition until days or weeks later. To save your life and to put you on the road to recovery, the medical team may have had to perform extensive surgery. The treatment may also include a long period of recovery and rehabilitation. And you may need to take medication to deal with pain and other conditions caused by the accident.
Extensive medical treatment of any kind costs money. You will have medical bills to pay on top of your regular household bills, and being laid up in the hospital will put you out of work for some time. When you are allowed to go back to work, you may be forced to reduce your hours. The injury may even prevent you from re-assuming your livelihood.
If you have sustained permanent injuries, it may be impossible for you to work at all. This is the most life changing event that can happen as a result of your injuries. You may need to take medication and undergo regular treatment for the rest of your life. You may also be compelled to hire a full-time in-home carer.
Who is to pay for all of this? The answer is the person responsible for the accident.
Determining Liability in a Rideshare Accident
The law has struggled to keep up with the new realities established by Uber and Lyft. When the companies first came on the scene, they operated as mere clearinghouses for individual drivers. They made drivers independent contractors rather than employees, and any driver who used their app to collect fares had to have their own insurance. Some changes have been made to this model. In some states—California being a prime example—rideshare drivers now receive the rights and benefits of employees. The rideshare companies also offer a standard $1 million pay-out to passengers who have been injured in an accident while in one of their vehicles.
However, getting this pay-out is difficult. Uber and Lyft still require their drivers to carry insurance. And if you have been injured in an accident, they will try to get the insurance company of the driver to service your claim. The trouble with this is that most drivers carry minimal insurance. If you are seriously injured in a rideshare accident, the insurance carried by the driver may not be enough to settle your bills.
Getting money from the far wealthier rideshare company comes down to liability. You must prove that they are liable for your injuries. An Uber accident lawyer or Lyft accident lawyer is the only one with the legal insight and experience to help you meet this aim.
You will be in a strong position if the negligence, recklessness, or inattention of the driver led to the accident. The rideshare company will put up a fight. They will try to make all kinds of arguments to distance themselves from the action or inaction of the driver. But the bottom line is that if the driver was at fault, the rideshare company is liable for the consequences of the accident. More and more judges and juries are coming around to this point of view.
This leaves you with the task of proving that the negligence of the rideshare driver led to the accident, that you were injured as a result, and that you are owed a certain amount of money. Your personal injury lawyer will gather the facts necessary to defend this position. They will deploy a private investigation team to make inquiries into the background of the driver—to ascertain specifically their physical and mental state on the day of the accident. The investigative team will also interview people who witnessed the accident.
Your personal injury lawyer will also bring in independent medical experts to assess your medical condition. All of this will be brought to bear in negotiations with the rideshare company, and will be used to pressure them into offering an adequate settlement.