Ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft have transformed transportation in Missouri. As use of these services grows, though, so does the potential for accidents involving their drivers and passengers. This raises crucial questions: what rights do passengers have when injured in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle? And how does one seek compensation?
If you’re asking yourself, can I pursue a personal injury claim if I was a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle, you’ll be glad to know the answer is “yes.” This holds true whether the rideshare driver, another motorist, or another factor caused the accident.
When riding with Uber or Lyft, their respective insurance policies provide third-party liability coverage. However, it’s always wise to set up a free consultation with a Kansas City car accident attorney to make sure you are fully compensated and have explored all avenues for that compensation.
The Prevalence of Rideshare Accident Injuries
Accidents involving Uber and Lyft vehicles are becoming increasingly common due to the sheer number of rides given daily. In Missouri alone, thousands of residents and tourists utilize these services each day, resulting in inevitable car accident injuries.
These rideshare accidents can range from minor fender-benders to more serious collisions, leading to significant personal injury. As a paying passenger, it’s crucial to know your rights when involved in such incidents.
Why Contacting a Lawyer Quickly Is Essential
Time is of the essence after a rideshare accident. Missouri law imposes strict deadlines on personal injury claims. By contacting a lawyer promptly, you ensure that vital evidence from the scene is preserved, witnesses are interviewed, and the necessary paperwork is filed in a timely manner.
Moreover, insurance companies, including those representing Uber or Lyft, often aim to settle claims as quickly and for as little money as possible. Having a lawyer by your side can help ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Steps To Take After an Uber or Lyft Accident
If you find yourself involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, follow these steps:
- Get to a Safe Location: Ensure that you and others are safe, including the rideshare driver and any other passengers. If possible, move everyone to a location away from traffic. If someone has a neck or back injury, however, don’t move them unless it’s necessary to escape a fire, for instance.
- Seek Medical Care: Always seek medical attention after an accident, even if you believe your injuries are minor. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and your medical bills will be important in any future legal action.
- Report the Accident: Notify the police and obtain a police accident report. This should detail the at fault driver and can be crucial evidence when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
- Gather Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with all drivers involved, including the Uber or Lyft driver. Document the accident scene with photos if possible.
- Contact an Attorney: Before discussing the accident with any insurance provider or claims adjuster, consult with an attorney. They can provide guidance on your legal options and the potential for seeking compensation.
Insurance Requirements for Being an Uber Driver or Lyft Driver
In Missouri, all rideshare drivers are mandated to maintain an active personal auto insurance policy. Once drivers are logged into their respective apps and awaiting passengers, Uber and Lyft provide their drivers with coverage that includes $50,000 for bodily injury per person, $100,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident.
The coverage is even greater when a driver is transporting a passenger, with a $1,000,000 third-party liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury, and contingent comprehensive and collision coverage. Deductibles, however, differ between the two rideshare giants, with Uber’s being $2,500 and Lyft’s $1,000.
Missouri enforces regulations on those aspiring to become an Uber driver or Lyft driver. Both rideshare companies must conduct thorough annual background and criminal checks through external services. In addition to successfully passing these checks, Missouri’s prerequisites for rideshare drivers include furnishing a copy of their driving record.
Liable Parties in a Rideshare Crash
Determining liability in a rideshare accident can be slightly more complex than with other car accidents. In some instances, the Uber or Lyft driver may be at fault, while in others, another driver might be responsible. Furthermore, external factors such as hazardous road conditions or vehicular malfunctions could play a role.
- The Uber or Lyft Driver Is at Fault: If the Uber or Lyft driver’s negligence caused the accident, their insurance policy would typically be the primary source of compensation. However, if their personal insurance policy doesn’t cover the full extent of the damages, the rideshare company’s liability insurance can step in.
- Another Driver Was at Fault: If another driver caused the accident, you’d typically seek compensation from that driver’s insurance company. If the other driver’s insurance doesn’t cover all your expenses, or if they’re uninsured, Uber and Lyft’s insurance policies may come into play.
- Something Else Caused the Accident: In rarer cases, if an accident was caused due to external factors like poor road conditions or vehicle defects, the entity responsible for maintaining roadways or the vehicle’s manufacturer might be held accountable.
Whose Insurance Will Cover a Rideshare Accident?
The question of insurance coverage in an Uber or Lyft accident can sometimes be convoluted. The coverage largely depends on the rideshare driver’s status at the time of the accident:
Driver Without a Ride Request
If the driver hasn’t accepted a request and gets into an accident, their personal auto insurance is generally the primary coverage. If, for example, you have acquaintances who are rideshare drivers, and they give you a ride in the vehicle they do use for rideshare work – but they are not logged in with the rideshare company and aren’t charging you – only their personal insurance company can offer you personal injury protection.
Driver With a Request but No Passenger
Once a driver has accepted a ride request but hasn’t yet picked up the passenger, a combination of their personal insurance and the rideshare company’s liability coverage might apply.
Driver Transporting a Paying Passenger
When an accident occurs during a trip with a paying passenger, the rideshare company’s insurance typically takes precedence. Both Uber and Lyft offer coverage for such scenarios.
It’s reassuring to know that both Uber and Lyft prioritize passenger safety by providing insurance coverage. If you’re involved in a rideshare car accident as a passenger, you’re typically covered by the rideshare company’s insurance policy, regardless of who’s at fault. This coverage can address medical expenses, property damage, and other related costs arising from the accident.
Can I Use My Personal Auto Insurance To Recover Compensation After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
If the coverage provided by the rideshare driver’s insurance and the rideshare company’s policy isn’t sufficient to cover all damages, you can potentially tap into your policy, particularly if you have underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. However, it’s essential to review your policy and consult with a personal injury attorney to understand the specifics.
What Are Some Common Injuries Suffered in Ride-Sharing Accidents?
Every car accident presents unique circumstances, and the injuries sustained can vary. In rideshare accidents, passengers might sustain injuries ranging from mild to severe.
Some of the most common injuries include whiplash, fractures, concussions, lacerations, internal injuries, and in more grave instances, traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.
After any accident, seeking medical attention promptly is paramount. Not only does this ensure your health, but it also documents the injuries, which can be crucial for any subsequent personal injury claims.
What Are My Legal Options if I’m Injured in an Accident Involving an Uber or Lyft Driver?
Seeking justice after sustaining injuries in a rideshare accident involves understanding your legal options. You can:
File an Insurance Claim
Start by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance, whether it’s the rideshare driver or another driver. In some cases, you may be filing a claim with the liability insurance of Uber or Lyft.
Negotiate with the Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters might offer a settlement, but an early settlement from a claims adjuster is often lower than what you need to pay for all the damages the accident caused. Having an attorney ensures you aren’t shortchanged.
Pursue a Lawsuit
If negotiations fail or if the insurance coverage is insufficient, you might need to file a lawsuit against the liable parties involved; usually the other driver’s insurance company, but sometimes a government entity or manufacturer or even rideshare companies themselves.
What Is the Personal Injury Claims Process?
When you’ve sustained injuries from a rideshare accident, seeking compensation involves a specific process. Initially, evidence is gathered from the accident scene, which can include photographs, witness statements, and the police report.
This evidence helps build a strong case. After gathering all the necessary details, a claim is filed with the relevant insurance provider. If the claim is not resolved through insurance negotiations, the case might proceed to a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Uber or Lyft Directly
While Uber and Lyft maintain that their drivers are independent contractors and not employees, there have been cases where victims tried to hold the rideshare companies directly responsible. Succeeding in such claims requires proving negligence on the part of the rideshare company.
The apps for Uber and Lyft are integral to the operation of these services, for instance; however, they can pose distractions for drivers. If it’s evident that a driver’s distraction from the app contributed to the accident, there may be grounds to claim that the rideshare company’s system is inherently unsafe. However, proving such claims can be very challenging and requires thorough legal insight.
How Much Is a Rideshare Injury Lawsuit Worth?
The value of a rideshare injury lawsuit depends on several factors: the severity of the injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. There’s no set amount, but with the right evidence and legal representation, victims can ensure they seek maximum compensation for their damages.
While it’s technically possible to file a lawsuit without a lawyer, having legal representation greatly increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Personal injury attorneys understand the intricacies of rideshare laws, can help you understand exactly who to sue, can negotiate effectively with insurance adjusters, and will advocate for your best interests.
Get a Free Case Evaluation With a Qualified Attorney
If you or someone you know has been injured in a rideshare accident, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice. Contact Holman Schiavone, LLC at 816-399-5149 today for a free consultation. With our experience in rideshare injury cases, we can help you find out how much compensation you’re entitled to and get you the best possible outcome for your claim.