Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have transformed the way we travel. They offer convenient booking through smartphone apps and often offer very competitive rates.
So it’s no surprise that thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers are on the road in Chicago and other big cities at every hour of the day.
Nevertheless, the explosive growth of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft has created some unique dangers. These include car accident liability issues that are important to be aware of.
How Many Lyft or Uber Accidents Have There Been?
The public data provided by ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft regarding the number of accidents and injuries their drivers have been involved in is murky at best.
And thanks to corporate lobbying by these companies, even state governments may not be able to release that data.
Even so, a recent study from the University of Chicago has uncovered some troubling trends.
Due to stricter safety laws and the introduction of better safety equipment in vehicles, fatal traffic accidents per capita and per vehicle mile driven dramatically decreased in the United States beginning in the mid-1980s.
This downward trend continued for almost thirty years, all the way into the 2010s. But when ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft exploded in popularity in the mid-2010s, that decline came to a halt and the number of fatal accidents actually started to increase again.
In fact, the University of Chicago study estimated that the rise of ridesharing companies increased the number of fatal accidents in cities where they operate by as much as 4%.
Why Ubers May Cause Accidents
There are a number of reasons that drivers on rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft might cause a rise in accidents.
- Ridesharing drivers may have an incentive to break traffic laws. Uber and Lyft drivers are paid based on how many rides they provide, so they want to pick up as many passengers as possible to make more money. This may encourage them to speed, ignore stop signs or red lights, or break other traffic laws to get to their destinations faster.
- Rideshare drivers may be especially distracted by their mobile phones. Uber and Lyft drivers use their smartphones to accept new rides, determine pickup and drop off locations, get directions to destinations, and rate their passengers. With so many potential distractions on their phones, Uber and Lyft drivers may not be able to pay proper attention to the road.
- Rideshare drivers may suffer from fatigue and lack of sleep. Uber and Lyft allow their drivers to stay on the road for 12 hours at a time. Then they only require drivers to take 6 hours off to rest before they can start transporting passengers again. And of course, the longer drivers are on the road, the more money they can make. Thus, Uber and Lyft drivers may be fatigued and lack sleep, because the companies allow them to work for long hours with very little rest.
What happens if you are in an accident with Uber or Lyft?
If you are in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft, it is important to take the same steps that you would if you were in any other sort of car accident.
The first thing you should do is determine if you or anyone involved needs immediate medical attention. If there is a need for medical attention, dial 911 in case of a life-threatening emergency, or 311 (within the Chicago city limits) to request help obtaining non-emergency medical care. If you are outside of Chicago and require non-emergency medical care, call the local police department’s non-emergency number.
The second thing you should do is to ensure that the police are called to make an official accident report. If you’re calling to request medical attention, you may be able to request that the police come at the same time. However, it is not always possible to have an officer dispatched to the scene of an accident. If you’re unable to obtain police assistance on the scene, it’s a good idea to go to the local police station to file an accident report once you leave the scene of the crash.
The third thing you should do is make every effort to document all the facts relating to the accident.
If possible, you should:
- Write down the names, drivers’ license numbers, contact information, and insurance information of everyone involved in the accident. Also, record the location of the accident and the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved.
- Take pictures of the accident from as many angles as possible. This includes pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident, as well as any other useful details like damage to surrounding property or tire track marks.
- Write down an account of what happened in your own words so that you can remember important details of the accident later on.
Who is Liable in a Lyft or Uber Accident?
The question of who is liable in a Lyft or Uber accident can be complicated.
If you are injured in a Lyft or Uber accident and someone else is at fault, you may have a strong case for compensation. But you may not be able to sue the company directly. That’s why it’s always best to contact a qualified personal injury attorney to determine how best to pursue your claim.
Broadly speaking, Lyft and Uber accidents fall into two main categories. The first category is accidents that are caused by a rideshare driver. The second category is accidents that are caused by someone else, where the rideshare driver is not at fault.
1. Liability when the Lyft or Uber driver caused the accident
The question of liability in cases where a rideshare driver is at fault can be complicated because of the unique way that these companies operate their businesses.
In particular, Lyft and Uber attempt to shield themselves from direct liability by classifying their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than employees. Thus, when a Lyft or Uber driver causes an accident, it may be necessary to sue the driver rather than the rideshare company itself.
Even so, obtaining the compensation you deserve is still possible because both the driver and Lyft/Uber have insurance policies to cover accident claims against them.
Which insurance policy applies depends on the circumstances of the accident. And again, the question of who is liable can be complicated, but if the Lyft or Uber driver is at fault, the following general guidelines may be helpful:
- If the accident occurs while the driver is not using the Lyft or Uber app, the driver’s personal insurance policy applies.
- If the driver is signed into the app and available or waiting for a ride, the driver’s insurance policy applies first. But if an accident victim’s damages exceed the driver’s personal insurance limits, Lyft’s and Uber’s insurance policies may kick in to cover the excess.
- If the driver is on the way to pick up a specific passenger or is transporting a passenger, company insurance policies apply first. Both Lyft and Uber maintain a $1 million third-party liability limit.
2. Liability when someone other than the Lyft or Uber driver caused the accident
If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle and someone other than your driver caused the accident, Lyft or Uber may not be liable. The driver of the Lyft or Uber may not be liable as well.
Instead, the third party who caused the accident may be liable. So, for instance, if a drunk driver hits the Uber you are riding in (and the Uber driver was driving safely), it might be necessary to sue the drunk driver.
In such a case, compensation would be obtained from the drunk driver’s insurance policy.
And if damages from your injury exceed the drunk driver’s policy limit, it may be possible to obtain compensation directly from the drunk driver, or even your own insurance policy.
Determining liability in the event of a Lyft or Uber accident can be a complex task. In order to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, you should contact an experienced accident lawyer.
Can You Sue for a Lyft or Uber Accident?
If you are injured in a Lyft or Uber accident and someone else is at fault, you can likely sue for compensation. At VanDerGinst Law, we fight for our clients and help them get the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
If you have questions about accident claims or need representation after being injured in a Lyft or Uber accident, contact our office to schedule a consultation. You deserve someone on your side.
Let one of our skilled personal injury lawyers help you through this difficult and stressful time.
The consultation is free and there is never a fee on injury cases unless we win.
Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391.
The law is tough, but being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.
The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.