If you summoned Uber or Lyft to give you a ride, you know that you had to use an app to make your request. Unlike a taxi service, you cannot make a request by phone or hire a ride at a taxi stand. However, there are other differences between taxi companies and ride-hailing services that you may not know. Lyft and Uber drivers use their own vehicles to transport passengers, but they also use them for their personal transportation needs. Although some people who drive for a ride-hailing service have supplemental clauses that are essentially commercial liability insurance, many drivers only carry personal vehicle liability insurance. Most personal policies contain verbiage stating that the insurance policy does not cover drivers if they are using the vehicle for a commercial purpose. While the ride-hailing services carry liability insurance that can cover accidents that occur with passengers in the vehicle, the services will virtually always attempt to make their insurance secondary to the driver’s insurance. We have fought this issue many times and are experienced in regard to winning these fights. Furthermore, if there is another vehicle involved, the situation can quickly become even more complex and more strongly contested by both the ride-hailing service and its driver. If you were injured in a car accident while you were a passenger in a vehicle affiliated with a ride-hailing service, you should consider retaining the help of an experienced car accident attorney.
Reasons to Engage an Attorney When Injured as a Lyft or Uber Passenger
Personal injury law was already a fairly complicated field before the arrival of ride-hailing services. Uber, Lyft, and similar services have added new layers of complexities. Because these services are relatively new, laws and insurance company protocols are still being developed and honed. There have already been changes in the insurance industry, and more changes are on the horizon. Furthermore, federal, state, and local governments are still wrestling with regulations covering the ride-hailing services. An experienced attorney can untangle the various laws that pertain to issues of assigning fault and pursuing insurance claims.
It is reasonably safe to assume that the ride-sharing service will attempt to deflect blame from itself to whatever degree is legally feasible. The more vehicles involved in the accident, the easier it may be for the service to defend itself in a personal injury suit. This can also be true if the vehicles represent various types of drivers. For example, suppose an Uber driver carrying a passenger collides with a vehicle operated by a Lyft driver who is also carrying a passenger, causing the Lyft vehicle to sideswipe a commercial van that is propelled into a traditional taxi that is carrying two passengers. Even a simpler accident can prove problematic. What happens if a bus that is owned and operated by a city government collides with a vehicle operated by an Uber driver with a passenger on board? With so many different rules and regulations in play, the average citizen could easily become confused and accept an offer that makes a fair settlement more difficult or impossible to obtain.
Who Can Passengers Sue?
The parties that can be named in a lawsuit depend on the specific details of each accident. Potential defendants could include all or some of the following.
1. The driver of the ride-hailing vehicle is often the primary defendant. However, he or she may not have an insurance policy that covers the driver while operating the vehicle for business purposes, and the driver may have few assets to contribute to paying for an injured passenger’s financial losses.
2. The ride-hailing service could be named as a defendant. Ride-hailing services provide liability coverage to supplement the personal insurance policies of their drivers. Uber, for example, provides liability coverage for drivers who are carrying passengers or on their way to pick up a passenger, but the coverage is a maximum of $1 million. There are even issues regarding getting additional money that an experienced injury attorney can help you sort out.
3. If more than one vehicle was involved in the accident, each driver can be named as a defendant. In Nevada and Arizona, every driver can be assigned a percentage of blame for an accident, and plaintiffs can recover damages that reflect the same percentage. For example, suppose a passenger in an Uber vehicle sues to recover $100,000 in losses related to an accident that involved a second vehicle. If the responsibility for the accident is found to be 40% the Uber driver’s fault and 60% the other driver’s fault, the plaintiff could collect $40,000 from the Uber driver or his insurance company as well as $60,000 from the driver of the second vehicle or his insurance company.
4. Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to name defendants who indirectly caused or contributed to the accident. This category is quite broad, and only an experienced attorney can advise you on the practicalities of naming a defendant who was not driving a vehicle involved in the collision.
If you were injured while riding in an Uber or a Lyft, contact Lloyd Baker Powerhouse Injury Attorneys. We represent clients in Nevada from our office in Las Vegas and clients in Arizona from our office in Phoenix. The telephone numbers are 702-444-2222 in Las Vegas and 602-265-5555 in Phoenix. You can also contact us through our website. We are experienced attorneys who focus our practice on helping clients who have been injured through the negligence of others. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.