Los Angeles Uber and Lyft Accident Attorneys
Rideshare Riders and Drivers: Know Your Rights to Legal Compensation
Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have become the go-to form of transportation for many Los Angeles and Southern California residents. During September 2018, Uber and Lyft drivers who logged in to one or both rideshare apps drove between 160 million and 184.9 million miles in greater Los Angeles.
Despite their convenience and ease, accidents still happen. Because ridesharing policies and laws are constantly evolving, it’s important to understand your rights if you were injured or suffered property loss in an Uber or Lyft related accident.
From 2017 to 2018, there were reportedly 58 deaths from accidents during Uber trips in the U.S., with 21% of these fatalities being Uber drivers, 21% being riders, and 40% being pedestrians. Moreover, 90% of Uber-related fatal crashes occurred in urban areas.
Personal injury and property loss claims involving Uber and Lyft are especially complex. These cases include numerous factors, such as whether a driver was logged into the app when the accident happened. They will often result in multiple claims against the company, the driver, and even other drivers.
Further complicating issues of liability is the recent passing of AB5. We strongly recommend consulting with an experienced Los Angeles Uber/Lyft attorney if you suffered injuries as a result of a ridesharing accident and wish to file a personal injury claim.
2.1 Liability and Ridesharing Periods
It is entirely possible for a Lyft or Uber driver to incur varying levels of liability. It all depends on what he or she was doing when the accident took place. In general, there are three liability limits which a Lyft or Uber driver may have when they:
- Were currently logged into the app and was already waiting for a passenger
- Already had a passenger in the vehicle or was picking up someone
- Were not logged into the app, but was just driving on his or her own time
Lyft and Uber divide insurance coverage into three separate time periods for their drivers.
- No period - This when a driver is not actually logged into the app. If an Uber or Lyft driver is involved in an accident and wasn’t logged into the app, he or she is considered off the job. This means that any claims arising from an accident will be covered by the driver’s personal insurance coverage.
- Period 1 - This is when a driver is already online and waiting for a fare. If a driver is currently online, is waiting for a fare, and was involved in an accident, Uber and Lyft have 50/100/25 liability coverage. This translates into liability limits of $50,000 per person and $100,000 for any accident involving bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage. Further, insurance coverage for the driver does not apply (uninsured, underinsured, medical payments) or for the driver’s vehicle (collision) during this in-between time period.
- Period 2 - This is when a driver already accepted a fare and is on his or her way to pick up a customer. Under these circumstances, Uber and Lyft offer $1 million in liability, uninsured, and underinsured coverage. As it applies to collision coverage, that will depend on whether the driver has their own collision coverage.
- Period 3 - This is when a driver picked up a customer and is already on the way to a destination. Under these circumstances, Uber and Lyft offer $1 million in liability, uninsured, and underinsured coverage. Collision coverage is contingent on whether the driver already has collision coverage, as well.
3.1 What if the Uber/Lyft driver was responsible?
If an Uber/Lyft driver injures a driver or passenger in another vehicle, any injured parties will have a claim against that rideshare driver. In these cases, liability will depend on whether or not the rideshare driver:
- Has the app turned on and is already waiting for a passenger
- Does not have a passenger and does not have the app turned on
- Is already carrying a passenger or is en route to pick someone up
These are important considerations, because if a rideshare driver has the app turned off, then any accident he or she is involved in at that time will be treated like any normal car accident. Furthermore, insurance coverage in these cases is strictly limited to that rideshare driver's personal insurance coverage.
However, if an Uber/Lyft driver does have the app on and is also waiting for a ride, contingent coverage with limits of $50,000/$100,000 will apply. And if a rideshare driver has a passenger in their vehicle or if they have already accepted a rider and are picking up the rider, the rideshare company’s $1 million commercial coverage goes into effect.
3.2 What Is AB5?
Both Uber and Lyft have taken aggressive action towards keeping their drivers enlisted as independent contractors. This strongly works in the company’s benefit, as the driver would be at fault for any wrongdoings while on the job.
However, there have been many news reports about rideshare drivers engaging in sexual misconduct, driving while intoxicated and even being involved in physical altercations. Though these billion dollar rideshare companies have taken a strong stance against the California Assembly Bill (AB5), their efforts have been in vain as it now understood that rideshare drivers are employees.
California is in the process of enforcing AB5, and the rules regarding rideshare drivers’ employee classification are changing dramatically. According to this new law, many of California’s independent contractors, including everyone from rideshare drivers to exotic dancers, are considered as employees.
Therefore, if there is an accident involving personal injury and property damage, the ridesharing company may be held responsible. If you were involved in an accident and you are unsure of your rights or whether you should file a claim, it is crucial that you contact the experienced Uber/Lyft attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers to help understand your rights.
4.1 Am I Entitled To Damages If I Was Partially Responsible?
Yes. California is a comparative negligence state, which means that if you were injured in a car accident and were partially responsible, you may still be able to recover some damages. In summary, a plaintiff's damages are reduced based on how much they contributed to causing the accident. The court will typically determine how to divide fault amongst all parties involved.