Written By Eva Brindisi Pearlman | October 9, 2017
Gone are the days where you must drive, take the bus, ride a train, or call a cab in order to reach your destination. In the past few years, ridesharing has become a lucrative part of commercial transportation. This carpool service began in larger cities and as of summer 2017, has reached other areas such as Upstate New York. It is a simple method of transportation for those that have the app accompanying the service and a potential job opportunity for those wishing to earn cash for driving. However, what would happen if a Lyft or Uber driver causes an accident? Who is at fault and what would you do if you were a passenger?
Rideshare Companies Liability
As mentioned in a previous blog post, liability in a Lyft or Uber accident can be a complex topic. Depending on whether the rideshare driver is idle, with a passenger, or driving to pick up a rider, it may either be the driver’s personal insurance or the ridesharing company’s insurance policy that covers a potential crash.
These carpool companies like to separate themselves by not considering a driver to be their employee. Sometimes, Uber or Lyft will attempt to shift the blame, alleging it is solely the driver’s fault, especially in cases of physical assault, so they are not held liable. Since the corporations have extensive insurance policies, they may try to do everything they can to deny your claim. These difficulties are why a personal injury lawyer could help by representing your lawsuit and fighting on your behalf.
Despite trying to deny claims, in November 2016, Uber settled a lawsuit filed by two women who alleged they were sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers. The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the company in California because they wanted to hold the ride-hailing service responsible for its drivers’ actions. Uber argued that it wasn’t responsible for the drivers’ actions since they were contractors and not employees; however, a federal judge denied its request to dismiss the case in May of 2017. Last fall, both parties reached an agreement, although the details surrounding the settlement were not available to the public. This is the first time the rideshare company has been held liable in the United States for their drivers’ actions. With the amount of physical and sexual attacks, and a recent discovery that they could be hiding sex attacks by their drivers, this will likely not be the last.
The lawsuit echoed criticism from other passengers and government officials that the world’s largest ride-share service has misled customers about how thoroughly it screens the drivers it hires. The company has resisted requiring fingerprinted background checks, like those used for most U.S. taxi drivers, opting instead for services that check people’s names against court records.
5 Tips on What to Do If in an Uber or Lyft Accident
If you are in an accident with an Uber driver, or physically harmed by an Uber driver, be sure to follow these 5 tips:
- Call 911 and seek medical attention immediately - The most important thing is your safety.
- Report the accident to the police and to the rideshare company - The purpose of this step is to ensure the accident is on record.
- Gather information of the driver’s identity and potential witnesses - This will help law enforcement to have a better understanding of the accident and will also help you later should you decide to go forward with a lawsuit.
- Contact a car accident lawyer - A Lyft or Uber experienced attorney will be able to guide you in the right direction to ensure a significant chance in a successful lawsuit.
- Do not speak to an insurance representative until you have contacted a personal injury lawyer - You are most likely still in shock of the accident and your words could be twisted in a way that they will attempt to place partial liability on you.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you are injured by an Uber driver, a personal injury lawyer can help to make the situation easier for you. After your accident, if you are struggling to pay for medical expenses, lost wages or other damages, an experienced car accident lawyer could assist you to receive reimbursement for your pain, suffering, medical fees, or lost wages. A rideshare attorney will be your legal advocate and fight companies such as Lyft or Uber to ensure that you are compensated for the distress you did not deserve.
If you are injured in a rideshare accident, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Brindisi, Murad, Brindisi and Pearlman are rideshare lawyers in Central New York with the knowledge and compassion to represent you. If you’ve been in a car accident with Uber or Lyft, contact our office today for free legal advice.
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