Compensation for Victims of Uber and Lyft Collisions
If you were injured as a ridesharing passenger or an occupant of another car, your first step in the legal process is filing an insurance claim with the Uber/Lyft policy – assuming the at-fault TNC (Transportation Network Companies’) driver was logged into the mobile app. The stakes are high with $1 million in coverage, so you can expect to encounter some challenges with the claims process. The insurer may deny your claim by deflecting blame on you or another road user; if you do receive a counteroffer, it may be far too low to compensate you for your losses.
If you are unable to resolve your claim through a settlement agreement, you will need to file a lawsuit in court to recover fair monetary damages. Whether through settlement or litigation, the goal is to recover compensation for such losses as:
- Medical costs, including surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, treatment from specialists, and related expenses;
- Lost income, if you were unable to work because of your ridesharing accident injuries;
- Pain and suffering;
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Emotional distress;
- Losses based upon how your injuries affect your personal relationships; and,
- Many other amounts, depending upon your circumstances.
Your Rights After a Pedestrian or Bicycle Ridesharing Accident
It is important to keep in mind that you also have legal options if you were struck by a TNC motorist while walking or riding your bike. As long as the Uber or Lyft driver was logged in, you are covered under the TNC insurance policy. You can recover for your injuries by filing a claim through the same process described above, and you may be entitled to many of the same monetary damages for your losses.
Why You Need an Experienced Maryland or Virginia Auto Accident Lawyer to Represent You
These things to know about Uber/Lyft crashes are informative, but they should also convince you that it is critical to retain legal counsel if you were hurt in an accident. There are always complications involved with auto collision claims, but the complexities increase when the case involves a TNC, multiple insurance policies, and other factors. For more information on your rights, please contact the Baltimore or Fairfax office of Bob Katz Law. We can schedule a free case assessment to discuss your legal options.
About Ride Sharing Law Generally
You do not have to be a frequent user or even download a mobile app to know that ridesharing services are massively popular in Maryland and nationwide. According to Business Insider, Baltimore ranks #11 in terms of the highest earning cities in the U.S. for Uber and Lyft drivers, at $17.79 per hour – an amount that is 58 cents higher than the national average. Plus, additional statistics reveal that the global market for transportation network companies (TNCs) is expected to grow by more than 50% from 2020 to 2021. When you look at the respectable earnings and potential for growth, you can see why driving for Uber, Lyft, or other ride-hailing service is an attractive way to make money.
However, the downside of the ridesharing phenomenon is the potential for more car accidents. TNC drivers are logged into the mobile app while on the way to a pickup, transporting passengers, or meandering through Baltimore looking for customers. Recognizing that a metropolitan area offers more profitability, many Uber and Lyft drivers come in from out of town. Together, distracted driving, unfamiliarity, and additional factors put other motorists at risk. While you can trust a Maryland ridesharing accident attorney to fight for your rights, there are seven things all crash victims need to know about these incidents.
RIDE SHARING LAW GUIDE
- How Liability Works Generally
The legal concepts behind Uber/Lyft crashes will probably seem familiar to you, since these incidents are based upon negligence. To recover compensation, you need to prove that a motorist caused the accident through a breach of the duty to drive safely. You must also show that you suffered physical, financial, and emotional losses as a result of the collision.
Note that you could be hurt while riding as a passenger through ride-hailing services, but you might also be in another car when struck by a TNC driver. Liability remains the same in terms of proving the elements of negligence.
2. Insurance for Uber/Lyft Crashes
TNC drivers fall back on their own insurance policies when using their vehicles for private purposes; however, the TNCs themselves have insurance coverage that kicks in when an accident occurs in connection with providing ridesharing services. Uber, Lyft, and other companies maintain policies for up to $1 million per incident if a collision occurs while the TNC driver is using the mobile app.
3. Three Time Periods for Ridesharing Services
From the descriptions above, you can see that insurance and liability for Uber/Lyft crashes is dependent upon the TNC driver’s usage of the mobile app. There are different time periods to note:
- When the TNC driver is not logged in, he or she is not actually a TNC driver at all; the motorist has the same status as anyone else sharing the road, so you would pursue a claim directly with the at-fault driver.
- If the driver is logged in but has not yet received a pickup request, Uber and Lyft insurance policies apply to other vehicles and passengers. If you are a TNC driver, your vehicle is NOT covered.
- Where the driver is logged into the Uber/Lyft app and has a rider, the TNC insurance protects accident victims.
4. The Importance of Medical Care
In any type of auto crash, it is critical to seek medical treatment as soon as possible at an emergency room or urgent care facility. The road to recovery starts with diagnosis and proper care, so you can begin the healing process. Plus, getting immediate medical attention does impact your rights. Delays tell insurance claims adjusters that you were not hurt badly, otherwise you would have sought treatment right away. Because your actions could potentially reduce your monetary damages, visit a doctor the same day – or within 48 hours at most.
It should come as a relief to know that you do have remedies as an injured passenger. Though the process is somewhat different as compared to injuries to drivers, you are in a better position since you can definitely NOT be blamed for causing the crash. A Maryland or Virginia Rideshare Accident attorney can explain the relevant legal concepts in more detail, but an overview may be useful.
- Last April, (2020) Uber decisively ended a legislative battle in Maryland allowing it to operate under a much simpler legal framework than a traditional taxi company. Clearing the way for ride-share companies in a legal sense is certainly a victory from their perspective but may present some issues for their customers.
- Liability in Maryland Motor Vehicle Crashes Involving Rideshare Vehicles (Uber/Lyft)
If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber, Lyft or other ride share vehicle, it does not matter whether you were the driver of another vehicle, a passenger in an Uber, or a pedestrian- you may be entitled to compensation. A rideshare accident attorney may be able to assist you in obtaining compensation for your injuries.
Auto collisions are usually the result of a driver’s careless or reckless acts behind the wheel. In legal terms, this misconduct is referred to as negligence. To be eligible for monetary damages, a victim must prove four essential elements:
- The at-fault other motorist had a duty to drive safely, an obligation that applies to everyone on Maryland roadways;
- That person breached the legal duty of care and created a risk of harm to others;
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident in which you were injured; and,
- You sustained physical, emotional, and financial losses because of being hurt.
To understand how negligence works, some examples may be useful. The breach is often due to speeding, failure to yield, drunk driving, improper lane changes, texting while driving, running traffic signals, and many other acts. In a car accident that injures a driver, there can be multiple disputes over breach and causation, with both motorists pointing the finger at the other. However, because you are a passenger, there is likely no way you could have caused the crash.
2. Recovering Compensation as an Injured Passenger from a Ride Share Collision
In most car accident cases, the first step in obtaining monetary damages is filing a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company. In the case of Ride Share accidents, most of the ride share companies such as UBER or Lyft will insure the passengers when an active fare is engaged. Thus, if you pay for a ride and enter the vehicle, you are covered by the Uber or Lyft Insurance policy if the worst should happen. Thus, when you are injured as a passenger, it is possible to pursue any motorist who may have caused or contributed to the crash including the driver of your ride share vehicle, if they were at fault ion causing the collision. You may also opt to seek compensation from the other driver if your driver was not at fault. In all such cases, you may be able to claim with the insurer who carries a policy for the person you were riding with at the time of the accident if they were the at fault driver or if the there was no other applicable insurance coverage at the time of your injury.
Regardless of how you proceed, based on our experience, you can expect to receive considerable push back from insurance claims adjusters. Though they cannot attempt to prove that you were responsible for the car accident, each insurer might try to place blame on someone other than their own policyholder and refuse to make a payment. This can shift the burden to you, the injured party, to prove that one or both drivers were at fault, in order to recover compensation. Everyone knows that insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and so it is logical that they might not want to impact their bottom line by paying out your claim if they have a legal way not to. In addition to fault, a claims adjuster may also deny your claim by disputing the nature and severity of your injuries or the causation of your injury.
Because of these and other issues, an insurance company may refuse to settle your claim for a fair, reasonable amount. Under such circumstances, you will need to file a lawsuit in court – against any and all drivers and potentially (in some states) their insurance companies. By proving the essential elements detailed above, you can try to recover the full amount of compensation from any of these insurers that you are entitled to.
3. How a Ride Share Accident Lawyer Can Help
Our lawyers can handle the legal hurdles and complications that are specific to passengers’ rights in a car accident, such as:
- Investigating and gathering evidence regarding the circumstances surrounding the collision;
- Reviewing your medical records;
- Consulting with medical experts regarding the implications of your injuries and how they affect your quality of life;
- Preparing insurance claims forms and supporting documentation;
- Drafting a demand letter requesting payment for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses; and,
- Negotiating with the rideshare companies’ insurance company regarding a settlement agreement.
- Further, if we cannot reach an agreement and need to initiate litigation to protect your interests, your attorney will also handle such tasks as:
- Preparing the complaint and other required documents;
- Filing and defending motions;
- Appearing in court for required hearings;
- Conducting discovery and depositions; and,
- Preparing for trial.
If You’ve Been Hurt in an Uber/Lyft Collision – Talk to an Lawyer About Your Rights as a Passenger.
Whether you were the driver or passenger who sustained injuries, being injured in a car accident is stressful enough without having to figure out the legal hurdles. Instead of trying to handle the process on your own, trust a skilled attorney to assist with insurance claims and litigation. Our team at Bob Katz Law is dedicated to helping all victims of auto collisions, so we are prepared to take on the challenges to get the compensation you deserve by law.
MORE ABOUT RIDE SHARING GENERALLY
In recent history, ride-sharing networks have been developed to allow passengers to order a driver at the touch of a button and pay without ever opening a wallet. Companies like Lyft and Uber have reached millions, made millions, and do not seem to be slowing down any time soon.
As these companies expand around the world and consume other forms of the transportation market, it has been and will continue to be interesting and existentially terrifying to see the predictable and unpredictable ways in these cutting-edge companies will affect the marketplace, the jobs market and individual people.
Ride-share companies have undeniably transformed the face of the taxicab industry. Uber and Lyft have all but eradicated the need for a patron to stand outside or even wait for a ride. There is no longer any need to even carry currency of any form to pay the driver; all of that is handled from the cell phone app. The app further allows for GPS tracking of the driver and the destination. The company has promised drivers can earn around $1500 per week and even pays drivers more during “peak times,” or the times when there is more demand for the service. The applications allow customers to pick a certain size or type of car and even send a photo of the driver and the car prior to the driver’s arrival. Never before have the worlds of technology and transportation collided in such an innovative manner. Convenience and reliability is the name of the game here.
As with all things that seem too simple to be true, there are some hang-ups to the service. While Uber has already seen its share of lawsuits across the country, it has dodged a number of others. Namely, when it comes to the protections offered to patrons through auto insurance, Uber in particular seems to come up short. Traditionally, cab drivers carry commercial insurance policies whether they are carrying a passenger at the moment of the accident or not. Uber, for quite some time, was only providing auto insurance for drivers if they were carrying a passenger when they caused an accident. This meant that those injured by “Uber drivers” were not able to hold the driver’s employer, Uber, liable for the driver’s action – the opposite of traditional commercial claim. Because Uber drivers drive their own personal cars, Uber argued, the driver’s personal insurance should cover any injuries. Currently, Maryland law mandates that an Uber driver have up to $100,000.00 in insurance coverage.
Depending upon the circumstances of an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, an injured person may face obstacles to recovering. Under certain circumstances, the host company may have a non-delegable duty and cannot evade liability by the mere labeling of it’s employee as a contractor. If you have been involved in a serious car accident with an operator of a ride-sharing vehicle such as Uber or Lyft, contact your local Maryland lawyers at Bob Katz Law for advice.
Uber’s Commercial Insurance Policy
Different states are in the process of passing, or have already passed, laws regarding the legality of Uber. Much of the legality of the complex insurance issues surrounding ride-sharing apps and their insurance, and their drivers and the driver’s private insurance as a citizen, is still considered grey area. If you think you may be in need of help getting compensation for an accident involving an Uber driver, contact a knowledgeable Uber accident attorney to help you with this complicated process.
Like many multi-billion-dollar companies, as they have grown, Uber has been hit with lawsuits and has had to change their policies regarding their insurance coverage. And like most multi-billion-dollar companies, they will do everything in their power to prevent “losing” money- in this instance, to compensate victims whose rights have been affected. If you are unsure of whether you or a loved one is entitled to compensation after being in an accident with an Uber driver, a licensed Uber accident attorney knowledgeable in this area of law is the best person to help you to determine the viability of your claim.
Historically, Uber has taken the stance that it is not a ride-sharing service. Their claim was that they only developed the app which allows people to contact others who are looking to ride-share- they were not liable for what went on while people were utilizing their app. Uber now has to maintain insurance coverage for its drivers. But even with a change in their insurance policies, they will likely use their extensive resources to prevent having to compensate victims of Uber accidents.