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Personal Injury Blog

The Differences of Being Injured in an Uber or Lyft vs a Taxi

Monday, May 20, 2019

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft do not employ their drivers. They are contracted as independent contractors. Under current circumstances, many insurance companies may deny coverage if the driver is driving "for profit."  Uber and Lyft drivers carry "excess insurance coverage," beyond the coverage that the driver carries for him or herself. This means if you are injured in the backseat of a rideshare car, the liability insurance the company carries covers for damages, even if your claims are denied by the driver's own liability insurance.

Taxi Companies vs. Rideshare Companies

Although taxicab companies have been advertising that Uber and Lyft do not carry adequate insurance to cover passenger injury, in practice, this is not the case. According to Uber and Lyft, the rideshares carry up to $1 million in coverage. Taxicab companies' coverage varies from state to state, usually between $250,000 and $500,000. This comes to about $30,000 maximum coverage for each case. The maximum coverage for collisions in a taxicab is around $60,000 for all passengers involved in the accident.

Uber and Lyft drivers are required to carry their own personal insurance policies. The rideshare companies carry a million dollar personal liability coverage policy and one million dollars in uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage. However, it gets more complicated; rideshare drivers are simply private drivers using their own vehicles. If you have an accident while the driver is not formally logged into the Uber or Lyft system, only the driver's personal insurance will cover you and these claims are often denied. If the collision happens while the driver is logged in, but waiting for a ride request (is in an on-call mode) the driver's personal insurance will have primary responsibility, but the rideshare company may provide some additional coverage. The full insurance policy of Uber or Lyft will apply only if the driver is en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in his or her car.

What Has to Be Done in Case of Accident?

Accidents are complicated from the standpoint of the Uber or Lyft driver as well as their passenger. In a normal accident, what happens is pretty clear-cut. The at-fault party is liable for property damages, medical bills, and other liabilities. However, for the Uber or Lyft driver, they have a passenger to worry about. They have to keep in mind Uber's or Lyft's terms and conditions. They have to consider what state they are driving in. They have to follow procedures in the aftermath of the accident. 

  • Assess any injuries and call emergency services (911).
  • Photograph damage to both cars.
  • Collect information from witnesses if possible.
  • Call the company's hotline.
  • Call their personal insurance company.
  • They must never admit they are at fault. Even if they believe they are, they must not say so.
  • They must never escalate the situation by acting angry or threatening.

Accidents in rideshare vehicles are complicated. If your Uber or Lyft driver has an accident which injures you, it's important that you treat the collision as a legal matter.

  • Consult an Uber Accident Attorney or Lyft Accident Attorney or Rideshare Accident Attorney.
  • Seek necessary medical attention and save the medical documents.
  • Obtain all of the driver's insurance information including both the Uber policy and the driver's own personal insurance.
  • Take pictures and the accident scene and your injuries.
  • Find out exactly what the driver's log-in status was at the time--try to document it.a
  • Inform law enforcement and file a police report.

Freeman & Freeman are rideshare accident attorneys who know the nuances of ridesharing laws in California. There are many benefits to having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.  Please contact us to learn more.

Do Aftermarket Modifications Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Case?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Riding a motorcycle isn't just a hobby solely spent on the road. For many owners, a large part of owning a motorcycle is making it the bike of their dreams through a series of modifications. While these motorcycles may not need these aftermarket parts, owners often like to feel that their motorcycle is different from every other model sold at the dealership through custom-crafted parts made for aesthetic or performance, and that is great. However, riders need to be very careful with what they do add on, as it may have a very real effect on any potential accidents.

Insurance Coverage May Not Cover Modifications

One of the biggest concerns of aftermarket modifications is that they may not be covered by your insurance company in the event of the accident. While your couple thousand dollar bike may be covered by accident insurance, they probably won't cover your extra couple thousand dollars of modifications without a specific increase to your premium from extra coverage before the accident even occurs. This leaves you essentially covering any replacement modification out of your own pocket.

If the motorcycle accident was the fault of another, you may run into the same roadblock from their insurance company as well. They may offer a portion for modifications, but usually what they offer will cover a small fraction of the modifications that you made.

When They Call Modifications Dangerous

Unfortunately, aftermarket modifications on your motorcycle are an invitation for debate after an accident. Does installing a racing exhaust mean you are going to be speeding down the highway? Probably not. However, there are modifications that can make a motorcycle more dangerous.

For example, softer handlebar grips seem as innocent as they are comfortable on your hands. However, it could be argued that they impeded your ability to maneuver the motorcycle properly in order to avoid the crash. The same thing can be said if your LED lights are too dim in the dark, your handlebar weights were replaced and improperly balanced, or hand levers were replaced with cheaper grade models. There are quite a few modifications that can be made that may look better, but actually, function worse, and that can be a problem.

Even if another driver is very clearly at fault, modifications on your motorcycle give insurance companies just one more route they can try in order to cut costs. You can also be sure that if you have made even one small modification, they will make every effort to bring it up. You need to be upfront with your personal injury attorney so they can make sure to gather ample evidence that none of your modifications contributed to the accident.

Alternatively, if you do believe the accident was the result of an aftermarket part, this also potentially opens the manufacturer up to a separate third-party lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that these lawsuits require rather concrete evidence that it was the fault of the part in the accident rather than another driver or your own fault.

Need Help?

Have you been in a motorcycle accident in the Los Angeles area? Whether you were riding a bike with extensive modifications or just the standard issue sold right off the dealership, we can help. Having the right to make custom modifications to your bike should not bar you from getting the compensation you need after an accident, especially if it was due to no fault of your own. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can do to make sure you recover everything you need from your devastating motorcycle accident.


Auto Accidents: Are You Afraid of Driving?

Thursday, May 09, 2019

When you're involved in a crash, the ER doctor usually warns you there will be many physical, emotional, and mental effects that could emerge. The body cannot immediately react to every aspect of trauma. It's hard to process what you recently experienced in a day, a week, or a month. Some effects of the crash appear quickly, including broken bones, abrasions, and neck/back pain. Other effects of a crash surface over time. While you can hire an attorney to deal with the insurance companies and medical creditors who keep calling, you can also seek professional treatment for various ailments, including anxiety. In this post, we explore the fear of driving, a common form of anxiety faced by victims of auto accidents.  

The Background on Anxiety

A modern definition of anxiety has multiple dimensions. When you experience the emotion of anxiousness, you have a fear of a situation, a person, or another aspect of the environment. Fear is real or imagined, but the anxiety it causes feels personal. Anxiety can change how you breathe, make it difficult to sleep, cause your heart to race, produce a headache, and cause other physical symptoms. However, anxiety becomes a disorder when a person experiences excessive fear, nervousness, apprehension, and worry. While some anxiety is healthy, ongoing anxiety wears you down and makes it challenging to feel in control of your life. Anxiety can affect social relationships at work and at home. If you experience anxiety when riding in a vehicle or by reliving the crash in your mind, it can affect your daily life.

The Fear of Driving

A common side effect of being injured in a car crash or witnessing an accident is the fear of driving. However, many people experience a fear of driving and they have never been in an accident. According to a recent post from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America by Ken Goodman, there are five top fears associated with driving:

  • Past negative experiences.
  • Driving out of your comfort zone (i.e. alone or to unfamiliar locations).
  • Fear of having anxiety symptoms and feeling trapped.
  • Fear of traveling too fast and losing control.
  • Fear of fatalities.

There are other fears you may experience related to traveling in a moving vehicle. Be sure to report all mental and emotional effects of the accident to your treating physician. He or she may refer you to professional counseling or a support group.

Taking Control of Your Fears

With all fears, of which some are healthy, you must learn to manage them. If you're walking in a downtown area and afraid to use the crosswalk without a pedestrian signal because you could get mowed down, you're being rational. People who jaywalk have an increased risk of getting injured in a pedestrian accident. With anxiety related to riding in a vehicle, you must learn to take control of your fears. For example, if driving at night scares you, you can plan errands for your lunch break. If you must go out at night, ask a friend or a relative to drive you or use a service like Lyft or Uber. 

At Freeman & Freeman, we've helped many clients to address the lasting effects of accidents by seeking compensation under the law. We understand that, before the accident which wasn't your fault, you drove your vehicle with a healthy set of fears. Now, in light of this devastating crash, you're more afraid of driving, but you need your vehicle to get around to doctor appointments and other daily activities. If you would like to have your case reviewed by a personal injury attorney, please contact us today.


How is Liability Assigned in a Multi-Car Accident?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

While assigning liability is always a complex matter in auto accidents, multi-car accidents are an entirely different matter. If you were rear-ended, the car in the back would be saddled with liability. However, it is more difficult to assign liability when more than one vehicle is involved. Furthermore, because of the number of vehicles involved, the damage to your own vehicle as well as your body can be extensive and costly. Unfortunately, when there are a number of different cars responsible for the accident, it can be difficult to pinpoint liability for the damage.

Assigning Liability

In a multi-car crash, you don't file insurance claims for damage caused by different cars. Instead, typically liability is assigned for the crash. In most cases, the driver that started the chain reaction will be held liable for the accident. However, all drivers involved have a certain liability to an extent in the accident as well.

Most commonly, lawyers will work with police officers to try and find out who started the chain reaction in the accident as well as why it happened. It is easier for all parties if the person responsible confesses, but things don't always work out like that. Once the cause of the accident has been determined, if it was caused by negligence, such as distracted driving, then it is likely their insurance will be paying for all the damages. However, if something that was beyond their control caused a multi-car accident, then the liability for it may not solely rest on their shoulders. By not being able to brake in time to prevent the accident, all the cars involved have some liability. So if the initial driver lost control of the car due to something like ice (a rarity in California, but a good example) then they would not maintain sole liability for causing the accident.

The Biggest Complications in Multi-Car Accident Cases

As one would expect, if you were in a multi-car accident, the whole affair is going to take more time and money to resolve than your standard two-car auto accident cases. In truth, the biggest hang-up is often assigning liability for the accident to see whose insurance will be covering the damage. This requires the gathering of evidence and reconstruction of the accident to concretely prove. If you are lucky, the accident will happen in front of a traffic camera, a piece of evidence that will speed things up significantly, but not always a viable option.

Furthermore, as these accidents are often of a lethal nature, it is even more unlikely that a person will claim the fault if they are also looking at a wrongful death suit. If you have been in a multi-car accident, you should expect that it will take exponentially longer for the case to conclude. As it takes time to gather the necessary evidence as well as assign fault, it could very well be years before it reaches its conclusion.

Need Help?

Have you been involved in a multi-car accident and want to know when or even if you will receive compensation for damage and injuries related to the crash? You will want to find yourself legal representation to make sure your interests are fully represented in the matter of the crash so that you will get the compensation you need to get back on track. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman and Freeman can do to help you. We are dedicated to being an advocate of those injured in California and we are ready to fight to make sure you get the compensation that you need.

How Your Trip to the Emergency Room Can Effect Your Personal Injury Case

Thursday, April 18, 2019

If you were in any kind of accident, if it was serious enough, you will find yourself on the way to the emergency room. The doctors and nurses that work there provide a valuable service to anyone with injuries, be it minor or severely life-threatening. They not only provide care but injury assessment as well. However, like your behavior at the accident scene, what happens in the emergency room is important to your personal injury case as well.

Assessing Your Injuries

When you are in the emergency room after an accident, this is not the time to have a stiff upper lip and put on a strong facade. The nurses and doctors will be assessing your injuries so they can get you treatment and prioritize the worst patients in triage. This documentation of injuries can be essential to your case. If you didn't want to mention your back pain, but ended up needing treatment after a trip to the emergency room, it could be argued that your back was not injured in the accident itself. You could have hurt it hours later lifting a box for all anyone else knows.

When taken to the emergency room, always be honest with every single pain or anything that does not feel right. This is how medical professionals treat you and it is how you can get compensation for those injuries caused in the accident.

Sign Carefully

Once you have been stabilized in the emergency room, you will likely be barraged with a large amount of paperwork. If possible, you want someone who was not in the trauma of an accident to read it before you sign it. Most importantly, you want to make sure health insurance covers the visit if applicable. You also want to make sure that anyone who isn't a doctor doesn't slip you any extra paperwork such as a liability waiver. Always read any document before signing it or you will almost assuredly regret it later.

Keep The Accident Descriptions Short

It is likely that at some point, a doctor or nurse will ask you what happened. You want to keep the answer as short as possible. When you are asked this question, the nurse or doctor is only trying to get an idea of what they should check. If you were rear-ended, this is an indicator they may want to check for a concussion, whiplash, or other brain and spine injuries. Sometimes this pain doesn't manifest right away, so they want to catch it before it becomes a problem.

The issue with your explanation of the accident is that the nurse or doctor may have to tell it to someone else if they ask. Doctors and nurses are busy people, so if you gave a long and detailed explanation to them, they are likely to paraphrase it or get crucial details wrong. While you want to give medical staff full details on pain and other ailments, you want to keep how you got them as short and simple as possible. This statement may even make it into your medical records. Once it is there, it is the statement that your case will have to stick with.

Need Help?

Unfortunately, if you are in an accident, you probably will make some mistakes in the emergency room. People never expect to get in an accident, so they don't know they need to prepare for how to act when they do get into one. However, even if you made some mistakes at the scene or in the ER, we can help you. Contact us today to see how the Law Firm of Freeman & Freeman can help you get the compensation that you need for your personal injury accident, even if you didn't do your claim any favors.


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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.