Abstract: Injuries resulting from auto accidents involving rideshare vehicles tend to be more complicated to deal with than regular accidents. This article looks at what you need to do if you are involved in such an accident, and at the basics of how personal injury claims are likely to proceed in these circumstances.
Navigating Compensation Claims in Accidents Involving Uber and Other Rideshare Companies
Rideshare services like Uber or Lyft offer the convenience of arranging a ride with just a few taps on a smartphone. The simple utility of rideshare services and often cheaper fares greatly contributed to the precipitous rise of the rideshare industry. With more people utilizing rideshare services, it is a matter of statistics that the number of rideshare accidents will increase. While rideshare services created ease of convenience in arranging transportation, receiving compensation after an accident arising from a rideshare vehicle has become more complex.
New York State Laws Applicable to Rideshare Services
Rideshare drivers are subject to the regular rules of the road, including any state and municipal laws. In addition, rideshare services and rideshare drivers are subject to specific laws tailored to the service. For example, in the State of New York, rideshare services are classified as Transportation Network Companies.[i] However, in New York City, rideshare services operate under the Taxi & Limousine Commission requirements.
Rideshare Services Complicate the Issue of Liability
Generally, where private individuals have a vehicular accident, the party found at fault bears the burden of liability. But this is not always the case where a rideshare vehicle is involved. Rideshare services have created complexity in such matters. For example, what happens if a rideshare driver causes an accident while driving around without a passenger, but while actively available on the rideshare application? Is the rideshare company liable in such circumstance where the driver is not actively transporting a passenger for hire? What if the rideshare driver, while not transporting a customer or on the way to pick a customer up, injures a pedestrian or causes damage to private property?
It is often complicated to determine liability in a motor vehicle accident. Commonly, there are multiple parties that may bear responsibility and often bear partial responsibility. However, where a rideshare vehicle is involved, the complexity of determining liability is dramatically increased.
Rideshare Services Insurance Coverages
Rideshare services provide differing insurance coverages depending on situation. For example, Uber divides insurance coverage into three categories[ii]:
- When the rideshare driver’s app is turned off and the rideshare driver is not actively working:
- The rideshare driver’s personal insurance policy and coverages apply.
- When the rideshare driver’s app is turned on and the driver is actively available or waiting for a ride request:
- Primary automobile liability insurance coverage of $50,000.00 for bodily injury and death;
- Primary automobile liability insurance coverage of $100,000.00 for bodily injury and death per accident; and
- Property damage liability insurance coverage of $25,000.00 per accident.
- When the rideshare driver is on the way to pick up a rider and during the ridesharing trip:
- Primary automobile liability insurance coverage of $1,000,000.00 for bodily injury, death, and property damage.
Steps to Take If in a Ridesharing Accident and General Planning
It is important highlight a few key steps that anyone involved in an accident involving a ridesharing service should take. First, as soon as possible following the accident, seek medical attention to be evaluated for injuries. Personal health should be the first concern and of the utmost priority. Injuries may not be apparent immediately after an accident and might not manifest for a significant period of time. Seeking a medical evaluation is a crucial step in documenting any injuries.
In addition, make a statement to the police. Include any information regarding the conditions of the accident and the accident itself. It is important to inquire about obtaining a copy of the official police report.
Further, if possible, a person involved in an accident with a ridesharing vehicle should document everything to create a record of the scene of accident and the accident itself. Photos and videos of the scene of the accident, damage to property and vehicle(s) and bodily injuries are important. Another aspect to record is any statements from witnesses and obtain the witness’s contact information. The person injured in the accident should avoid speaking while recording the statements of a witness, as to allow the witness to provide a fair representation of the accident.
Lastly, anyone involved in an accident with a ridesharing service should consult an attorney as soon as practical. The sooner the better, as recollection of the events will be most fresh to assist the attorney in developing your case. It is also important to maintain a detailed record of all of your costs that result from the accident with a ridesharing service. These costs include medical bills, transportation costs, lost wages, and work hours. These costs will further assist your attorney.
What Compensation May be Involved?
It is not possible to provide a general monetary value for a rideshare accident as each incident requires a case-by-case analysis taking into account a variety of factors. For example, compensation may consider, but is not limited to, the severity of injury, medical expenses, predicted continuing medical expenses, and loss of earning capacity.
How Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP Can Help You
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP understand the complexities involved in navigating a ridesharing accident lawsuit. Our attorneys continuously monitor developments in this area of law to assist individuals in navigating this complex field.
In addition, the Trusts & Estates attorneys at Coughlin & Gerhart can prepare last wills and testaments and health care proxies to ensure that an individual’s desires are best looked after.
Further, business owners and entities should address succession planning in advance. For example, if an individual owns and operates a small business, but is severely injured in a ridesharing accident and cannot work for an extended period of time, how will the business continue operating? The Business attorneys at Coughlin & Gerhart can help formulate a business plan to ensure the operation of a business continues as smoothly as possible.
[i] New York Vehicle & Traffic Law, Article 44-B.