Over the past few years, travelers across the United States have traded in traditional taxi services for ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. With just a few clicks on their smartphones, people can have an Uber waiting for them in minutes.
Despite their convenience and popularity, both of these ridesharing services have been the subject of many legal questions. Just as with a taxi or any other mode of transportation, accidents happen. If an accident happens when you’re using Uber or Lyft services in Wake Forest, it’s important to know who is legally responsible and what your rights are as a passenger. If you have been involved in an accident while using a ridesharing service, you can count on our Wake Forest law firm to explain your rights.
Uber drivers face much less government regulation compared to taxi drivers. Almost anyone with a car and a driver’s license can become an Uber or Lyft driver. But taxi drivers are required to get permits, special licenses, and get more expensive auto insurance.
With far less red tape, what happens when Uber or Lyft drivers are involved in a car accident? Our Wake Forest personal injury attorney are here to sort through the issues.
When an Uber or Lyft vehicle is involved in an accident, someone needs to be liable. But these types of accidents can get tricky. The driver is usually the one who assumes liability. Many times, the driver’s insurance policy is not enough to cover injuries. This is why many victims have begun to file lawsuits against rideshare companies.
Rideshare companies may try to avoid responsibility for accidents that are caused by drivers, claiming they are “independent contractors” and not actual employees. Uber and Lyft currently have a $1 million insurance policy that covers drivers and passengers who are hurt in car accidents. These policies provide compensation for medical costs, injuries, and deaths under these circumstances:
Uber and Lyft also require all drivers to have state-mandated minimums for their personal insurance coverage. Lyft’s million-dollar policy only kicks in when the driver’s insurance doesn’t cover the costs of the accident or if the driver was in the process of transporting a fare when the accident happened.
Questioning who is liable for an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver has been an ongoing controversy. In San Francisco in 2013, a 6-year-old girl was killed when an Uber driver collided with her and her family while they were walking across the street. The driver of the car was not transporting a paying customer at the time, but he was logged in to the Uber app and was in between rides. Uber’s insurance company denied coverage to the victims, claiming it did not cover drivers between rides.
The family had more than half a million dollars in medical bills. But, in California, drivers are only required to carry bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident. This was clearly insufficient coverage to pay the victims’ expenses, so the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the driver was distracted when he hit the victim. This sparked the debate about what these companies can even call themselves.
Uber has argued that it is a tech company and not a transportation company. They claim they offer an open marketplace and should not be held responsible for the actions of third parties that use their service.
Although the debate continues, Uber and Lyft currently have their own classification as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). The laws governing these companies are still being clarified.
While the laws surrounding TNCs continue to change, there are currently three different scenarios when their insurance provides coverage.
This is a question that is often examined because we all know that all apps can be a distraction when driving. Ridesharing apps will often alert drivers with push notifications and sound effects when there is a potential customer nearby who needs a ride. Since drivers are competing for fares, many will jump on the opportunity. This may mean the driver takes his eyes off the road to respond to the app. This can be considered dangerous and deserves attention if there is an accident.
If you or a loved one were injured in an Uber or Lyft-related accident in Wake Forest, there are several steps you should take after the accident. The first step is to seek medical treatment on-site. Some injuries are not immediately apparent. Waiting to get treatment may cause additional harm that could have been prevented with prompt treatment.
You may also have trouble tying your injuries to the accident if you wait to seek treatment. A medical bill from the day of the accident has more weight than one from three months later. Be sure to contact the police so that the accident is documented. This will help you down the road if legal action is taken.
The laws surrounding Transportation Network Companies can be complex because they are constantly changing. This is why it is important to contact a dedicated Wake Forest personal injury law firm like The Doyle Law Offices P.A. Our team has the experience you need to navigate through these types of accidents. We offer convenient and free personal injury consultations.
For over 25 years, The Doyle Offices, P.A. has been helping injured clients in Cary, Raleigh, Apex, Holly Springs, Wake Forest, and across North Carolina get the compensation they deserve. Call us today at (919) 228-4487 to discuss your case or fill out the form below.