Uber, Lyft, and the good ole’ yellow taxi are ways for you to get to your destination, but what if you are involved in a rideshare car accident? In the United States, the use of rideshare services has been on the rise for several years now. It is no surprise when people use driving services to get to a destination right down the street from them or for their night out with friends. What exactly is a rideshare company, though, and what happens if you get into a car accident with a driving service?
When you use a driving service, you probably do not expect to get into an accident, neither do you anticipate one. Whether you are the driver or the passenger when ridesharing, knowing how to handle a rideshare car accident can help you in the future. In addition to these matters, our team over here at Raynes | Erickson will also discuss what to do in the event that you are injured in a rideshare car accident, whether you are a passenger or a driver. While you might not be able to anticipate an accident, being informed about what steps to take before, during, and after a rideshare car accident can make the difference between whether you are properly compensated for the damages or not.
What Is Ridesharing and Why Do People Do It?
Ridesharing refers to a transportation service that can be accessed through a phone application for convenient transport from one location to another. Rideshare companies (sometimes called transportation network companies, peer-to-peer ridesharing, or ride-hailing companies) provide driver-for-hire services to consumers through the use of freelance drivers who use their personal vehicles to transport customers.
Although several ridesharing companies have emerged in recent years nationally and across the globe, the two most common ridesharing services in the United States are Uber and Lyft. Typical requirements for accessing ridesharing services include:
- a smartphone or other personal device
- method of payment (e.g. credit card, Paypal)
- installed ridesharing app
One of the main reasons people rideshare is because on-demand transportation is proven to reduce drunk driving. According to a study* almost half of the passengers (46.1 percent) say they transportation services to avoid driving while impaired. And 33 to 39 percent of passengers use the platform to save time or if they are in a rush, because they don’t have a car available, or because parking is difficult to find or expensive.
These reasons are all viable. If you think about it: one tap of a button ultimately leads to saving lives by reducing the number of intoxicated drivers on the road and saving time and money because you can avoid the hassle of looking and paying for parking.
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Rideshare Accident
Still, while ridesharing has its benefits, there are still expected dangers that could occur while riding. Accidents, for example, is an inevitable danger that one might experience using these services.
If you are hit by a rideshare driver. Just like any car accident case, if you are involved in a rideshare car accident and you are not the rideshare driver, in order to file a claim you must be able to prove two things in order to get compensation: liability (who was at fault for the accident) and damages (how badly the claimant was injured).
The same applies to passengers who were injured by a rideshare driver; you must be able to prove that someone was negligent in order to have a claim. If the negligent party was a rideshare driver, the most straightforward course of action would be against that person, who would refer the claim to the driver’s personal insurance carrier—just like most other car accident claims. But things could get complicated because the driver was driving for money.
Unless the driver has a commercial policy or has purchased a ride-sharing endorsement, the driver’s personal policy will not cover the accident. A ridesharing endorsement extends certain coverages on a driver’s personal policy so that they apply during the “app on” period when a driver is waiting for a ride request. So, if an accident occurs while a driver is waiting to be hired, the ridesharing endorsement may help prevent the rideshare driver from paying out of pocket for related expenses. That is because the driver’s insurance contract specifies that the driver will use the vehicle only for personal use—and ridesharing is not personal use.
However, for the injured person, some ridesharing services now offer liability insurance to their drivers, which will come in handy if the driver’s carrier denies the claim (drivers must submit the claim first to their own insurance carriers). So, legal responsibility aside, it is entirely possible to hold the ridesharing service financially responsible when you are a non-negligent person in an accident caused by a ridesharing driver.
If you get hit as a rideshare driver. Some ridesharing companies offer liability insurance for their drivers, as long as the drivers are:
- transporting a rideshare passenger at the time of the accident
- logged into the app and waiting for a ride request
- on their way to pick up a passenger
Beyond these situations, determining personal injury liability in a ridesharing accident can become complicated, with some primary determining factors being the type of accident and ride status. Therefore, ridesharing drivers who contract with certain ridesharing companies are required to have insurance under the company’s insurance plans. However, the amount of coverage offered for rideshare drivers who get into an accident is not going to be the same in every scenario.
If you get into a car accident as a rideshare driver, document these details for future reference:
- personal injuries including injuries of any passenger
- photos of the accident scene including physical car damage and damages to other drivers, pedestrians, or property
- screenshot of the rider status on your Uber/Lyft app
- testimony from other witnesses and involved persons on the scene
- personal information such as name and phone number in addition to insurance information of other drivers or pedestrians involved
Seeking medical attention is a priority in the event of a rideshare accident. Any resulting injuries should be attended to and the health and safety of others involved needs to be checked immediately. That includes that of your passenger(s).
The Best Car Accident Attorney in Southern California
If you have been involved in a rideshare car accident, whether you are the driver, passenger, or other party involved, contacting a rideshare accident attorney is likewise important. If you are located in Southern California and have suffered in a rideshare car accident, our firm represents clients throughout Southern California, including San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County.
Our expertise spans a variety of practice areas, including personal injury, motor vehicle accidents, and more. The applicable statute of limitations is likely already running, and timing can be critically important to your case. Please contact Raynes | Erickson today for a free, no-obligation, confidential legal consultation regarding your rideshare car accident.