Accident Claims Related to Rideshare Apps: Uber and Lyft Under Scrutiny.
These apps are revolutionizing the transportation industry. If you want to get a lift, you just have to download one of those apps, and link a credit card to your account. This connects you with nearby drivers who can serve as a taxi cab. All payments are done through the app. Almost anyone can use it, either as a customer or a driver. Uber and Lyft are almost alike. They have a similar way of payment and rating.
As these apps grow popular; there are more “freelance taxis” on the road. And we all know what that means, there will be more traffic on the streets. Making traffic accidents more common than usual. So what can you do if you suffer an accident while using these apps? To know the answer keep scrolling down and read.
Uber and Lyft Related accidents.
Like all normal accidents, one or more individuals can be at-fault for the event. But if the taxi driver is the one who caused the situation, you can sue both the company and the driver. The same procedure applies to freelance drivers. Initially, the drivers are independent contractors. So there is no direct link between the company and the service provider. The owners of these companies use this allegation to avoid any kind of accusation.
If the accident happened while the driver was on duty, the company’s insurance must cover all the expenses. But what is the meaning of on duty? When the driver picks up a client, as soon as the client is inside the car, the driver is on duty. This status is finished when the client arrives at his or her destination. Therefore, if the accident happened during the trip, both the company and the driver is responsible for the wellbeing of the client.
Uber’s insurance policy.
As said before, while the driver is on duty, Uber's insurance protects the client. According to the company, this insurance can cover up to $1 million worth in damages. But you have to know the following things:
- The driver is off duty: If an Uber driver is not accepting any clients, he is off duty. In this scenario, the insurance policy doesn’t cover any kind of damages. If the freelance driver is responsible for an accident, he has all the financial liability.
- Picking up a client: If the accident happened while the driver was about to pick up a client, or waiting to find one, the driver's insurance must cover all the expenses. In the case that his insurance can't pay for all the expenses, Uber's insurance can cover that part.
- The driver is on duty: While the client is inside the car, the driver is responsible for his well being. If the driver's reckless driving leads to an accident, Uber's insurance must take care of all expenses. Also, if another driver is responsible for the crash, both the driver and the client are protected by Uber's insurance.
Lyft’s insurance policy.
According to the company itself, both the driver and the client are covered under their insurance. They claim that the coverage begins immediately after the driver logs into the app, and ends as soon as the driver logs off. This is not entirely true, like Uber's policy, the insurance only applies while the driver is on duty. Check out the following scenarios:
- The driver is off from the app: While the driver is logged off, means that he is not looking for any clients. If the driver is responsible for a car crash, his insurance must pay for all the related bills
- The driver is looking for clients: When a driver logs into the app, he appears in the nearby client's phone. This is when, according to the company, the coverage begins. But this is only a second-tier coverage. And it only applies when the driver's insurance either doesn't respond or doesn't cover part of the expenses.
- The driver is on duty: As soon as the driver accepts to pick up the client, the Lyft's insurance coverage begins. Like Uber, Lyft's insurance policy covers up to $1 million worth in damages.
The Driver Didn't Crash, But Another Kind Of Accident Happen.
While you are in the car, many things could happen. Previously you have seen what happens when there is a crash. But what happens if the driver gets involved in something shadier? Unfortunately, these accidents are getting more frequent. There are many users' claims regarding the driver's inappropriate behavior. For example, the driver can assault his client. In this case, the insurance coverage applies? According to both companies’ own rules, their coverage is limited to traffic-related accidents. They claim that they are not responsible for the driver's behavior; since the driver isn’t a direct employee of the company. Even though, if the drivers harmed their clients in any way, the rideshare company can be at-fault for the accident.
To clearly understand how these conditions may apply, let’s see the following case. This was a notorious claim brought to the Court by a young female client. She was allegedly assaulted and rape by an Uber driver. She sued the company because, according to her lawyer, the company must check their drivers' background.
Uber’s defense based his allegations, on the fact that the drivers are independent contractors. Which according to the company’s attorney, doesn’t make them responsible for the harm made. The Court dismissed Uber’s defense because they must have some kind of supervision. The Court’s ruling considered that there was a direct company-employee relations. The filling was made considering that:
- The driver can't modify the ride’s fare.
- There are no skills required to become an Uber driver.
- When a driver is on duty, he must agree to take all the client's requests for a ride.
- Uber’s database have the contact information of all their clients and drivers.
- The company can terminate the contract of any driver.
The plaintiff’s attorney also claims that, if the driver’s background and a criminal record was properly checked, the accident could be avoided. Because of this, Uber was accused of negligent hiring. They claim that they couldn’t have known that the driver was potentially dangerous to the client. The Court also dismissed this allegation, because if the company check the contractor’s criminal record, they could have discovered that the driver had a previous conviction.
The ruling favored the plaintiff's claim, and this set an important precedent for future lawsuits. Unfortunately, these problems are becoming more popular, as more drivers joined the platform. Because of this, these companies are applying a more comprehensive investigation of their potential freelance drivers.
What Kind of Compensation Should I Expect?
For these companies, bad publicity isn't better than no publicity. Even a bad review can have a serious impact on the company's reputation. They will do whatever it takes to avoid these reviews.
As these companies make tremendous revenues, they are likely to pay you more than you deserve. They do this to buy your silence, preventing you from making any king of harmful accusation.
Even if they try to pay you less than you deserve, you always can press charges against them. You can use this as leverage to get all your expenses covered. Remember, they don't want you to make the claim public, so you can use this to push them.
As these companies have a handful of lawyers working for them, you must hire a specialist accident attorney. This will level the play in any kind of negotiation. Your lawyer will protect you and your rights; while seeking the maximum compensation amount.
Get in contact with us. Either if your claim is related to a traffic accident, or about the driver's wrong behavior. We will take your case, and help you to get as much money as possible for your troubles. Don't let the time pass by, this only favors the responsible for the accident. Call us today!