Personal Injury Firm in Los Angeles
Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have become the go-to form of transportation for many Los Angeles and Southern California residents. 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/Lyft-related accident.
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, and will often result in multiple claims against the company, the driver, and even other drivers.
An Uber/Lyft car accident victim may be entitled to compensatory damages
While they are not the only companies in the ridesharing business, Uber and Lyft are by far California’s most well known and lucrative “Transportation Network Companies”. Sometimes known as TNCs, Uber and Lyft are both regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Public Utilities Code.
There are several key differences between TNCs — such as Uber and Lyft — and traditional limo or taxi services. For example:
As it relates to taxi services, they must have a commercial insurance policy that is in effect at all times, whether or not the driver is on duty. This stands in contrast with Uber and Lyft, whose commercial policy will only go into effect if there are passengers in the vehicle, or if the driver is presently logged onto the app and is actively looking for a passenger.
Furthermore, anytime a rideshare driver is not logged onto the app and is simply existing on his or her own time, only the driver’s individual car insurance will come into effect. This personal insurance policy only needs to cover the minimum California 15/30/5 insurance, which covers a maximum of:
Determining liability after all car accidents is complex. This is especially true when multiple parties are involved, such as in an Uber or Lyft accident. But like most car accidents, liability in an Uber or Lyft accident will generally be based on someone’s negligence. In other words, the driver who caused harm to another individual will typically be held liable for any injuries caused, as well as the resulting damages.
As it relates to Uber or Lyft accidents, negligence is usually some form of careless or reckless behavior. Common examples of Uber/Lyft driver negligence may include:
Negligent behavior is never acceptable and is against the law. Every driver has a duty of care while behind the wheel. This means that all Uber and Lyft drivers are legally responsible for using reasonable care while operating a vehicle. They must also be mindful of pedestrians and road conditions, as well as maintain control of their vehicle at all times.
If you were injured in an accident because of an Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence, you must be able to show that their negligence directly caused your injuries. The legal standard for negligence in the state of California will consider the following three elements:
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 (3) liability limits which a Lyft or Uber driver may have when he or she:
Lyft and Uber divide insurance coverage into three separate time periods for their drivers.
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.
If you were injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft-related accident, you will generally be covered by their commercial liability coverage.
You may be able to file a claim against Uber/Lyft if you were injured as a result of a rideshare driver, as well. Fortunately, these companies have a $1 million commercial policy and if damages exceed the drivers’ personal insurance coverage, Uber/Lyft’s commercial policy may cover the difference.
Furthermore, if responsibility for the accident was in the hands of another driver, you may file a claim against the at-fault driver. However, in the event that the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, Uber/Lyft’s UM/UIM policy typically will cover the damages up to $1 million per accident.
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:
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.
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 Bill AB5, their efforts have been in vain as it now understood that rideshare drivers ARE employees.
California is in the process of enforcing its AB 5 bill 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.
Available damages after an Uber/Lyft accident typically are the same as in a normal car accident. Compensatory damages may include:
Punitive damages may be awarded in rare cases. These types of damages are only limited to cases involving recklessness, deliberate harm, or when fraud is committed, such as attempting to cover up an accident. An example of fraud could be when a ridesharing company was aware of their own negligence, yet made efforts to cover up their role in an accident.
As it relates to fatal car accidents, surviving family members may also be entitled to damages for the loss of their loved one. Certain family members may be able to file a claim for:
California is a comparative liability 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.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of another driver’s carelessness, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. A Uber/Lyft attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.