Lyft, Uber, and other ridesharing services have made getting around Birmingham convenient and pleasant, but when you’re involved in an accident with a rideshare vehicle or as a passenger in one, life can quickly get complicated.
Did you or your loved one suffer severe injuries using or getting into an accident with a rideshare company like Lyft, Uber, or others? As you may know, rideshare injury claims are complicated. To help, a Birmingham personal injury lawyer has put together some facts to help you navigate a rideshare accident claim.
Who Is Liable for Your Rideshare Accident? It Depends
Uber and Lyft operate using independent contractors instead of employees, which means their drivers typically have personal liability and commercial automobile insurance policies on their vehicles. So, which policy gets the claim?
It depends on the activity of the driver. For example, if you’re involved in an accident with an Uber or Lyft vehicle, the first step is to identify whether the driver was performing duties related to the service.
For instance, if a driver is off-duty (not transporting or on their way to or from a passenger) and involved in an accident, their personal automobile policy is probably responsible for the resulting damages.
How Does Rideshare Company Liability Cover Passengers?
If the accident occurs between the time an Uber or Lyft driver accepts a ride and when the rider is dropped off, you can typically make a passenger claim against the company. This is because Uber and Lyft both provide liability protection for passengers injured in an accident.
In addition, each provides underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage if a driver who causes the accident does not have insurance or has inadequate insurance to cover the injuries.
Rideshare drivers and companies, including Lyft and Uber, are mandated by Alabama law to carry surplus insurance beyond the state’s minimum requirement. Under Section 32-7C-2, rideshare companies must provide the following coverage when one of their drivers is providing a prearranged ride:
- Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage up to $1 million
- Liability coverage of $1 million
What if the Rideshare Driver Isn’t Transporting Passengers?
The situation can get confusing when a driver is not carrying passengers but is still on duty. Company coverage might kick in during these periods, but only when the driver’s personal policy does not provide for injuries to you or your passengers.
For example, let’s say you are rear-ended by an Uber vehicle on a Birmingham street. The driver had no Uber passenger but was on the clock at the time of the accident.
If the Uber driver’s private insurance company denies liability or does not have enough coverage for your injuries, Uber’s policies will kick into effect.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
Making a Rideshare Accident Injury Claim Can Be Challenging
Once you’ve gotten over the initial hurdle of figuring out who may be responsible for your damages, the next step is knowing how to handle the claim. Setting up claims with Uber or Lyft may be met with a denial of liability. Don’t assume that because Lyft and Uber have $1 million insurance policies that they will be enthusiastic about paying out your claim.
It’s common for these companies to sidestep responsibility for your injuries, blaming anyone other than themselves. They may use the excuse that since they use private contractors, you need to go through your insurance. They may say this even when you didn’t cause the accident to begin with.
It becomes a significant issue if your injuries were unrelated to the vehicle and were caused by the driver’s actions. For example, you might require a Birmingham pedestrian accident attorney if you were struck by a rideshare driver while crossing the street or walking through a parking lot. Moreover, the insurance companies might try to drag out the process until you are exhausted and fed up with the whole thing.
Causes of Rideshare Accidents in Birmingham
Time sensitivity is a factor in many crashes because Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare operators are under pressure to get their passengers to their destinations quickly. Other typical reasons for accidents include:
- Fatigue: Uber and Lyft both limit how many hours a person can be clocked in as an available driver, but driver fatigue is still a real risk. If a driver does not sleep enough during their off-hours or works a second job, they could doze off behind the wheel and cause an accident.
- Distracted driving: Rideshare drivers depend on a mobile app to communicate with riders, schedule pickups, and navigate to their destination. They are more likely to get into an accident due to distracted driving if they take their attention off the road to look at their phones or reply to a text message.
- Tailgating: In their hurry to get to their destination, a rideshare driver might impatiently tailgate the car in front of them. If the vehicle ahead makes a sudden stop, the rideshare driver may not have time to avoid a rear-end collision.
- Driving under the influence (DUI): Although illegal, rideshare drivers could arrive at work impaired by drugs or alcohol. These substances slow reflexes and response time, increasing the chances of a rideshare accident. In addition, these drivers may face both criminal and civil lawsuits for causing a DUI crash.
- Reckless driving: Rideshare drivers can make more money by transporting more people in a shorter amount of time. As we stated above, they may be tempted to speed or drive recklessly to arrive at their destination faster. This could cause them to lose control of their car.
- Breaking other traffic laws: Like other motor vehicle operators, Uber and Lyft drivers sometimes violate traffic laws intended to keep drivers and passengers safe. For example, failing to yield the right of way, ignoring traffic signs, or running a red light are opportunities for a perilous accident to happen.
Why Do I Need a Rideshare Accident Lawyer?
If you or your loved one was a victim of a negligent rideshare driver, you might be entitled to compensation for your losses. For example, a court might award you money to pay for medical bills, emotional trauma, lost wages, and other expenses related to the accident.
However, if you file a lawsuit on your own, you may not recover as much in damages as you would with a lawyer to represent you. This is because insurance companies will do everything they can to get out of making a big payout, including trying to settle out of court for less than you deserve.
Don’t try to talk to the insurance company yourself or accept a bad deal out of desperation. Our experienced Birmingham rideshare accident attorneys will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. We work to get every penny you are owed so that you can focus on your recovery.
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Morris Bart Birmingham Attorneys Are Insurance Claim Experts
Dealing with an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver in Birmingham can get a lot easier if you have a good attorney. Our attorneys have decades of experience dealing with the complexities of insurance claims and car accidents.
If you’ve been involved in an accident through no fault of your own with an Uber or Lyft car or as a rideshare customer, call Morris Bart & Associates, LLC in Birmingham for a free consultation. We’re available 24/7, and we’d like to help you get the money you may deserve.
If you’re planning on taking an Uber or Lyft, check our site for a recap on handling a rideshare accident.
to find a Morris Bart office near you.