During a typical year in the United States, more than 6,000 pedestrians die and more than 125,000 visit hospital emergency rooms for treatment as a result of being struck by a car or truck. Even when vehicles are traveling at relatively low speeds, pedestrians can suffer severe injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, emotional trauma, and spinal cord injuries. Most auto-pedestrian accidents occur at night, and Friday and Saturday nights have the highest number of accidents. Far more pedestrians are struck by vehicles in urban centers than on rural roads, and most of the pedestrians are not in a crosswalk when they are struck. When a pedestrian is hit by any vehicle, the question of liability can sometimes be complicated to resolve. However, if the driver is an independent contractor affiliated with Uber, Lyft, or another ride-hailing service, the case can become even more complex.
If a company hires a commercial driver as an employee, the company secures and pays for liability insurance that covers the driver. For privately owned vehicles, the owner is typically responsible for securing and paying for liability insurance to cover all drivers residing in his or her household. To many people, this seems to imply that the company or individual is responsible for any and all payments made to a pedestrian who is struck by a vehicle covered under the driver’s or owner’s insurance policy. However, in recent years, a number of states have adopted the concept of comparative negligence. This means that more than one driver or company can be assigned a portion of the blame for an accident. Pedestrians can also be held partially responsible for an accident. For example, if pedestrians ran into the street from between two parked cars without checking for traffic, or was texting while walking, cross against a signal, are inebriated, or cross the street in the middle of the block, they could potentially share in the blame. If one vehicle collides with a second one that is then propelled into the pedestrian, the fault for the accident could be split between the two drivers, and the pedestrian could be included in distribution of blame.
Although the rules stated above are sufficiently complicated to justify hiring a personal injury attorney, pedestrians who are struck by an Uber or a Lyft driver must consider another layer of complexities. Most drivers do not carry commercial liability insurance, and most personal liability insurance policies do not cover drivers who use their vehicles for a commercial purpose. If the driver is not actively pursuing his or her ride-hailing business at the time of the accident, his or her personal vehicle liability insurance should be the primary coverage. Neither Uber nor Lyft will accept responsibility for accidents that happen when drivers are not performing services for the company.
Once drivers log on to indicate they are available for ride requests, they also have some liability coverage provided by the ride-hailing service. However, this is not as straightforward as it may seem. Coverage types and limits depend on what the driver is doing at the time of the accident. For example, Uber defines three types of activities. The first period of activity is the time a driver spends logged on while waiting for ride requests. The second period is the time spent after a driver accepts a ride request and is on the way to pick up a customer. The third period covers the time during which the driver is transporting a passenger. Typically, the ride-sharing service provides the greatest coverage during the third period and the least during the first period. Therefore, your ability to collect from a ride-sharing service if you are struck by one of its drivers while you are crossing the street could be affected by the driver’s stage of activity at the time of the accident.
As you might expect, ride-hailing services usually try to avoid paying for accidents involving their drivers. The typical first move is to make an attempt to defer responsibility to the driver’s insurance company, delaying any payments under the company’s liability policy until the driver’s company rejects the claim. However, although it can be difficult to secure a large settlement from a ride-hailing service, it should not be considered impossible. An experienced attorney with a full understanding of the various personal injury laws will have the knowledge, training, and skills to evaluate each case to determine the best way to seek fair compensation for pedestrians who have been injured in a vehicle accident.
If you have been injured in an auto-pedestrian accident in Nevada or Arizona, contact Lloyd Baker Powerhouse Injury Attorneys for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case. Our attorneys focus on personal injury law, and we have helped many injured parties receive compensation and justice. You can reach us by phone at 702-444-2222 in Las Vegas or at 602-265-5555 in Phoenix. If you prefer, you can use our chat feature or online form to send us your information.