Rideshare Car Accidents
Ridesharing services offered through Uber and Lyft are popular in public transportation. While the ridesharing industry is growing rapidly, so too are legal issues relating to liability when Uber and Lyft drivers are involved in car accidents. The question of who is responsible for the accident puts many rideshare customers in a tough position.
Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC help clients involved in rideshare car accidents. Our firm is committed to holding negligent drivers liable for their actions. If you have been injured in a rideshare car accident, know that you have legal options and rights.
What Are Leading Causes of Rideshare Accidents?
Using a ridesharing service can be convenient, but there are some dangers involved. Anyone could become a rideshare driver; there is no interview or job experience needed. Rideshare drivers have no training. There are no certifications required, and no driver education courses to take on driver safety. Once an applicant gets approved, they can start taking customers.
You should understand how these car accidents are caused. Be on the lookout for the telltale signs of a bad driver or issues that concern you. Common causes of rideshare car accidents include:
- Inexperienced drivers: Anyone can become a rideshare driver. There is no interview or job experience necessary or specific certifications required. Once an applicant gets approved, they can immediately start taking customers. Studies show that rideshare drivers often have less experience than traditional taxi drivers. Because of this, you might be getting into a vehicle that is far less safe than a taxi.
- Speeding: Because rideshare drivers tend to be less experienced, they are more likely to speed. Some rideshare drivers may not realize how fast they are going or speed so they can get to their destination as fast as possible. By doing this, these drivers might hope to get better reviews from busy customers. However, it only puts themselves and their passengers at greater risk for an accident. Speeding is historically a leading cause for car accidents nationwide and factors into many fatal crashes. Speeding drivers reduce their reaction and braking time, which can result in high-impact car crashes and severe injuries to vehicle occupants.
- Distractions: You might feel like it is impolite to remain silent in the car or ignore the rideshare driver, but the driver should remain focused on the road. Distracted drivers kill thousands of people each year. They continue to do increasing harm to others on the road, as drivers’ level of comfort with modern technology accelerates. It is common for rideshare drivers to be distracted by their smartphone and navigation system. Other causes of distracted driving accidents include conversations with passengers and adjusting music in the vehicle. Rideshare drivers often get behind the wheel assuming they can multi-task when they should only be focusing on the road. This is extremely dangerous and can cause serious car accidents and injuries.
- Drowsy driving: Some rideshare drivers may feel pressure to continue to pick up fares to make money, regardless of how many hours they have already worked. This can lead to drowsy driving, which is a common and avoidable cause of car accidents. Many people can relate to being tired while driving. However, when rideshare drivers are so fatigued that it affects their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, it can be extremely dangerous for passengers and motorists sharing the road. Sleep deprivation can impair concentration, reduce vigilance, and affect a driver’s reaction time. Some drivers are so drowsy they fall asleep behind the wheel, causing them to travel across lanes or off the road. It is important to never get into a car with a rideshare driver who you believe is fatigued.
- Impaired driving: Rideshare drivers, like other workers in the driving industry, can feel the stress and pressure from an intense schedule. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and fatigue, which may trigger the use of alcohol and drugs. However, this worsens the situation and is extremely dangerous, as the consumption of drugs or alcohol impairs an individual’s ability to concentrate and react quickly to unexpected situations. Drivers under the influence experience blurred vision, impaired judgment, and difficulty maintaining control of their vehicle, which puts passengers and other motorists at serious risk. Signs that a rideshare driver might be under the influence include slurring words, confusion, smelling like alcohol, and bloodshot eyes. While on the road, drivers under the influence may weave between lanes, suddenly accelerate or brake, neglect to put headlights on at night, or drive in the wrong direction. You should never get in a vehicle with any driver you believe may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Who Is Liable for a Rideshare Accident?
Uber and Lyft are service providers that consider their drivers to be independent contractors. Each of these companies carry their own insurance policies to cover damages and injuries, however, independent contractors are responsible for carrying private insurance policies that cover their passengers and vehicles. Since independent contractors operate their own business, Uber and Lyft can try to shift accident liability onto the drivers that rely on their services to operate.
The general rule is that insurance coverage depends on the rideshare driver’s status. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft provide their own insurance coverage for drivers who are “on the clock.” The amount of this coverage typically depends on what the driver was doing when the accident occurred. Below is a helpful guideline regarding insurance coverage and liability:
- If the ridesharing app is turned off, Uber and Lyft will not cover any accident caused by the driver. In these cases, the driver’s personal insurance should be in effect and cannot deny coverage under the terms of the policy.
- If the rideshare driver is logged in and has accepted a ride, the Uber and Lyft insurance coverage will cover up to $1 million for damages related to the rideshare accident.
- If the rideshare driver is logged in but has not yet accepted a ride, they are still considered to be on the clock. However, if a car accident is caused at this point, Uber and Lyft have coverages of $25,000 for property damage, $50,000 for injuries, and $100,000 total injury coverage. In other words, ridesharing companies use a reduced or “contingent” policy in these instances.
The options provided under Uber and Lyft insurance are constantly changing, so it is possible that coverage options will be different in the event of future rideshare accidents. However, the company responsible for covering the accident, the amount of coverage, and the process for getting injuries covered will largely depend mostly on whether the driver was on the clock or on a ride with a customer at the time of the accident.
It is not advisable to attempt to work through these issues without legal representation. If you make an error or get confused about the insurance coverage, you may lose your right to receive fair compensation. It is important to retain an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer to vigilantly sort through all of the factors in your specific case.
Another major difference when navigating through the details of a rideshare accident comes down to comparative negligence. Under Pennsylvania law, if you are injured in a car accident, you are still able to recover damages, even if you are partially to blame for the accident. This law provides that each party involved in a car accident is to be assigned a percentage of fault. This percentage reflects how much their action, or inaction, contributed to the car accident and injuries.
In Pennsylvania, the degree of fault assigned to each party is important because it reduces their ability to recover by the same amount. Passengers in a rideshare vehicle at the time of an accident are almost never at fault for contributing to the accident.
Customers who end up in a rideshare accident are in unique position since they were obviously not driving either of the vehicles involved at the time of the accident. It is easy to see how complex the legal issues become when an injured party attempts to claim compensation after being involved in a rideshare accident.
Pennsylvania Ridesharing Company Laws
Insurance, vehicle, and licensing requirements are some of the most important aspects of laws that regulate companies. The following is an overview of Pennsylvania’s current laws regarding ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
- Transportation network companies (TNCs) must maintain careful records of their drivers and vehicles, including proof of driver’s license, automobile insurance, registration and inspection, as well as the make, model, and license plate of each vehicle. TNCs can also do criminal background checks and review driving histories.
- Rideshare drivers must maintain primary auto insurance or TNCs must provide the insurance on behalf of their drivers.
- Rideshare drivers who are not transporting passengers but are logged onto the TNC’s digital system must have $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 of property damage coverage.
- Rideshare drivers must carry Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance for medical benefits, which includes $25,000 for pedestrians and $5,000 for a driver, regardless of whether they are logged in on the ridesharing app.
- Rideshare drivers who are transporting passengers must carry at least $500,000 in coverage for death, bodily injury, and property damage.
- Rideshare vehicles must have at least four doors and meet all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
- Rideshare vehicles cannot have more than 350,000 miles and be more than 10 years old.
- Pennsylvania rideshare vehicles must undergo Department of Transportation inspections, which PennDOT randomly audits.
- Rideshare vehicles should not have large dents, loose bumpers, or signs of vandalism. In addition, cars must also be clean on the interior without large tears in the leather or upholstery. Door handles, seat belts, windows, interior lights, and air conditioning must also be functional.
- Under Pennsylvania, rideshare drivers must meet several qualifications. In addition to holding a valid driver’s license, rideshare drivers in Pennsylvania must be 21 years old and have less than three moving violations within the previous three years.
- Pennsylvania law disqualifies rideshare drivers for most felony convictions that occurred in the previous seven years. Drivers convicted of sexual offenses or violent crimes can never legally drive for a ridesharing company in Pennsylvania.
- TNCs must do a follow-up background check one year after a rideshare driver begins and every two years thereafter.
What Should You Do After a Rideshare Accident?
Rideshare drivers should call 911 as soon as an accident occurs if they are able. Otherwise, you should call police to the scene as soon as possible, as well as any other emergency personnel that may be needed. If you can exit the car safely, take pictures of the accident scene, the car you were riding in, and the prevailing weather conditions if possible. Remain on the scene so that your statement can be added to the police report.
It is also vital to receive immediate medical attention, even if you might think you are not injured. Emergency medical treatment establishes that you are hurt. In addition, your doctor can establish a treatment plan that explains your injuries and how long your medical treatment will last and cost.
Rideshare accidents are unlike typical car accidents. They are legally complex and often more challenging due to the number of defendants who may fight against your injury claim. An experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer can help prove your claim by:
- Demonstrating that you were involved in an active ride through the app.
- Using experts to establish liability.
- Consulting with your treating physician to establish your injuries, potential health complications and disability, damages, and future needs.
- Holding drivers, ridesharing companies, and other third parties who may be liable for your injuries accountable.
- Pursuing your legal remedies against all liable parties in court.
- Possibly recovering the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages.
If you suffered an injury in a rideshare accident, you will need experienced legal representation to help navigate the intricacies of multiple vehicle and multiple insurance policy claims and litigation. Our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC have experience handling claims involving rideshare drivers and understand the laws governing these types of claims.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Clients Injured in Rideshare Car Accidents
If you have been seriously injured due to the negligence of a rideshare driver, or the driver of another vehicle while riding in a rideshare vehicle, you need a lawyer on your side. Our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. For a free consultation, call us at 215-569-8488 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.