Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way the world gets around. These peer-to-peer car ride services put the convenience of a local taxicab right on your smartphone, and generally offer rides for a fraction of the price of other such services. They are wildly convenient and endlessly popular, but using Uber and Lyft isn’t without risk.
With the elimination of corporate cab and taxi responsibility also comes a much more complex processes should an accident occur while you are being transported by your rideshare. If you were injured in an Uber or Lyft accident in the state of Florida, you may have a more difficult case to navigate than you would after a typical car accident. This is true whether you’re passenger in a rideshare car, or if you’re a driver struck by a rideshare car. If you’re facing challenges to your unique circumstance after a rideshare accident, the right personal injury lawyer may be able to help.
The Risks of Rideshare Services
Uber and Lyft have over 20 years of combined history serving residents of cities large and small all over the world. Yet even with such experience, their systems are far from perfect, and their track records reflect as much. There are frequent reports of driver misconduct both with their passengers and while operating their vehicles. That’s because most rideshare drivers are average citizens just like many other drivers on the road. They are not specifically trained or educated in proper conduct or driving practices, at least not any more than any other licensed driver.
Both Uber and Lyft have also been accused of not conducting thorough or adequate background checks on their drivers, meaning they (and their customers) have no true sense of what type of people these drivers really are. The drivers they hire also operate as independent contractors rather than employees on a regular payroll. By specifically hiring independent contractors, Uber and Lyft relieve themselves of much of the responsibility and headache of aiding in passenger issues should they arise—that goes for both conduct inside and outside the car.
But the demand for rideshare drivers is high, meaning these services hire most anyone who applies for the position and meets some basic qualifications. Without more thorough vetting, the reality is that passengers know nothing about the driver whose car they climb into. You have no idea how they conduct themselves, and certainly don’t know if they are a safe driver, or what their driving history looks like. Reviews and ratings that show up in the app can only reveal so much. Any car you take a ride in could be operated by an unsafe driver, and this is the most prevalent risk we all take when we order a ride through our preferred rideshare app.
What to Do After a Rideshare Accident
Nothing in life is without its risks. For many, the cost and convenience of using Lyft or Uber far outweigh the risks of a bad driver or suffering a car accident while utilizing a ride. And while it’s true that the majority of rides will not end badly, there’s always a chance that your next ride could be disastrous. This is true anytime you get inside any vehicle. That’s why it pays to be prepared by knowing how to conduct yourself should a rideshare accident occur.
Whether you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle or a driver who is struck by a rideshare vehicle, the very first step is to call the police as soon as you can. This is especially true if there are injuries suffered or major damage has occurred. Never assume that someone else has already called. If you are physically able to, be proactive and call the authorities yourself.
While you wait for the police or ambulance to arrive, take ample record of the scene of the accident. Snap photographs or record video of the road and surrounding areas to show conditions at the time of the accident. Capture evidence of all the vehicles involved from multiple angles, as well as of any other damages or injuries. This evidence is incredibly beneficial should you need to file a lawsuit.
Next, exchange information with all the other drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Collect contact information for each person and secure the insurance information for each of the drivers involved. If you were a driver involved in the accident, be willing to give your own information as well, but don’t be too forthcoming in general. Never say anything that could be construed as taking blame. Don’t explain your maneuvers or behavior, and instruct any passengers in your own car or other witnesses to do the same. Also be sure to only present the facts to your own insurance provider when you contact them.
The Legal Landscape Behind Rideshare Services
While there are certain minimum insurance coverage requirements every Florida driver must legally have, there’s no way to know for sure what kind of insurance coverage your particular rideshare driver may possess. Despite having adequate coverage for themselves, drivers often will not carry “commercial coverage.” This is a specific type of coverage many insurance providers require their drivers to have when they drive for a living, especially when it involves transporting other people.
When their customer doesn’t carry commercial coverage, insurance companies will try to deny coverage for damages to rideshare passengers because they aren’t covered under the driver’s policy. It’s also common practice for both the rideshare company and the insurance company to claim their driver was in between fares when the accident occurred, thus relieving them of liability. But with the proper evidence, you can still prove your case.
If you desire to pursue damage recovery after a rideshare accident, you have several options. One is to report the incident to Uber or Lyft and hope they handle it appropriately. While these companies employ independent contractors, they do still carry company insurance policies that can specifically cover personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death. After your file your claim, the company should open their own investigation into the incident, and will either pay your damages or deny them. If your claim is denied, the next step should be to contact a car accident or personal injury attorney like The Whisler Law Firm. We can help you seek the compensation you deserve by either pursuing the rideshare company further or approaching the independent driver’s insurance provider directly.
We want you to focus your time and energy on recovering from your injuries, while we focus on defending your rights and pursuing the compensation you deserve. These could be damages for personal injuries, loss of property, loss of working wages, pain and suffering, and more. And we always provide an initial consultation of your case entirely free of charge so you don’t have to wonder if you have a case at all. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or fill out our online form so we can help you determine the best course of action to take.