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Personal Injury Blog

Legal Help for Rideshare Accidents

Thursday, October 10, 2019

If your Uber or Lyft driver gets into an accident, under current procedures, everything is usually very straight forward.

The View of Minimal Trouble

An article in Fortune Magazine describes what happened from the viewpoint of a San Francisco Uber passenger when her Uber driver got into a significant fender-bender. In the wee hours of a weekday morning, a turn into a one-way street resulted in significant damage to the passenger door of another car. The Uber driver was shaken up by the incident and she reminded him that he had to pull over. The Uber driver assured his passenger that he would be able to drive her the rest of the way home, but she refused, saying that she would prefer to walk. She was sure that negotiations between the drivers would take considerable time. Corporate Uber called the passenger days later, was very apologetic and refunded the passenger's fare. The driver had correctly reported the accident to Uber. The payment to the car sustaining the damage was covered by the James River Insurance Company. 

Under a California statute that took effect in 2015, Uber and Lyft drivers must carry increased personal insurance while online to seek riders and even more coverage during the time of the trip itself (from acceptance of the ride to the drop off). There are gaps in the legal process if a passenger were to hail a ride and not using the Uber or Lyft app online. Under those conditions, the driver might not be covered under the increased insurance.

Beyond the Easy Cases.

The basics of handling accidents by Uber or Lyft drivers are straight forward. However, there are many situations where resolution may not be simple. Difficulties are going to get more complicated once, in the near future, Uber and Lyft begin employing self-driving vehicles. In Los Angeles and California, the law says that Uber or Lyft passengers are entitled to be fairly compensated for injuries after a ridesharing accident. Sorting out the fault and the compensation for parties in an Uber accident would be complicated. There are many possible classes of victims and potential causes of accidents. Either could be private vehicles, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, truck drivers, bystanders. All victims are entitled to fair compensation for their injuries. All causes of accidents have to be factored into the awards picture. An experienced  Uber accident attorney, Lyft accident attorney, or rideshare accident attorney will be able to fully analyze any accident using techniques like accident reconstruction and employing experts in accident safety. Thorough legal investigation and casework an experienced attorney may find hidden insurance benefits and find the best medical and rehabilitation services available.

Uber and Lyft drivers themselves may have very complicated insurance cases especially if the rideshare driver feels that an accident was caused by another party, but the passenger feels their driver is at partly or fully at fault. The legal situation can be complicated if the insurance company decides to point its fingers at anyone other than the person whom they insure. A skilled rideshare attorney with years of experience could be the only one who can sort out such a case.

Self-Driving RideShare.

We don't know exactly when self-driving cars will be introduced into the rideshare environment. The principles and practices of insuring Uber and Lyft passengers will become much more complicated then. In a given accident, the vehicle manufacturer, the writer of the software, or the makers of individual components of the complex system could be included in the distribution of blame. These factors may involve foreign entities or entities from other states with different laws. Insurance companies may begin to count on the fact that investigations would be too costly to pursue. It could be a lot more complicated to obtain just compensation for injuries.

Freeman & Freeman have successfully handled hundreds of Uber/Lyft cases since the inception of their services. These cases have become one of our largest specialties. Please contact us to learn more.


über or Lyft rideshare accident rideshare accident

10 Steps to Handle an Out-of-State Uber or Lyft Accident - Pt 2

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Welcome back to the second half of this two-part article on Uber and Lyft accident aftermath. Last time, we covered what to do in the vehicle right after the accident. Along with taking care of medical needs and contacting the police to help clean up. Join us again today as we pick up where we left off. 

The Usual Accident Aftermath - Cont.


Collect Evidence & Witnesses

If you can, gather contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident. When combined with GPS and cellphone data, often witnesses are the best way to clarify exactly what happened on the road for legal and insurance purposes later on. Having contact with your witnesses allows you to get in touch later and take advantage of their third-party knowledge of the scene.

Get Safely to Your Hotel

Once the accident is cleaned up, please get yourself safely to your hotel. Don't let shakiness or stress after the accident put you in greater danger. Call another ride or take public transport to get somewhere you can shower and sleep off the incident. This way, you can plan your next steps from the comfort and safety of a hotel room.

Criminal or Civil Court Cases

The most difficult part of an out-of-state accident is dealing with court dates. If there is a criminal case brought up by the DA of the accident state, you may be called upon as a witness to speak for or against the charged driver. And if you choose to raise a civil case, you will likely need to file it in the county where the accident happened, not in your local court.

Court Occurs in the State of the Accident

It's important to understand that where the accident happens influences which court presides over cases. Both civil and criminal cases will be presided over by a local judge, and the local traffic laws will be what determines the outcome.

Research the Relevant Laws of the Accident State

To this end, you'll want to be aware of any relevant laws that are different from Minnesota standards. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case, for example, or different statutes for safe driving laws. Do a little personal research and confer with an experienced lawyer to find out what you need to know about a court in another state.

Work With an Experienced Lawyer

Speaking of legal counsel; you may need some. Now is the time to get in touch with an experienced rideshare accident lawyer who can help you handle the aftermath of out-of-state Uber or Lyft accident. Speak about the details of your case and then discuss your options for insurance claims and civil suits.

Be Prepared for Out-of-State Court Dates

Finally, be prepared to do a little extra traveling. Working with your lawyer and the court, you may be able to get a few remote participation accommodations. But eventually, there's a good chance you'll need to be personally present in the courtroom despite the fact that you live out of state. Be prepared for this. Know where the presiding courthouse is, find an affordable hotel nearby, and work with the court to lock down a workable set of dates for you to be available. Your lawyer can help you hammer out a plan that doesn't take you away from work for too long.

 

Dealing with Uber or Lyft

Other than legal proceedings, you may also need to deal with the rideshare company involved. Whether you were working with Uber, Lyft, or a local contemporary, it's important to keep on top of the situation because theirs is the insurance that may need to pay for your injuries. And like all insurance, claims can be denied for. Be prepared to work with a lawyer to define and defend your claim on Uber or Lyft's million-dollar-policy for incidents such as yours.

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If you or someone you know has recently been in an Uber or Lyft accident, especially if it was out of state, you will need legal assistance to navigate the future ahead. Always make sure that your injuries and the medical needs of others are taken care of first. Then consider the legal, logistical, and financial impacts of the situation. For more personalized advice on your unique situation, please contact our office today. Our legal staff is ready to help.


Emergency doctor putting a cervical collar to a patient in the ambulance Emergency doctor putting a cervical collar to a patient in the ambulance

Rideshare Accidents in and Around Los Angeles

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rideshare Accidents in and Around Los Angeles

It's unfortunate but true. Ride-hailing companies continue to grow at an unprecedented rate, and for some, the convenient ride services are a godsend, but more cars on the roads around Los Angeles mean more accidents. What began as transportation availability in neighborhoods and communities where transit or taxis are underserving the population, is now raising the number of fatal accidents.

New Study on Rideshare Crashes

The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, in a new working paper, points out that up to 2 to 3 percent of the crashes in a given area may relate to the introduction of Uber, Lyft, and other ride companies, such as Fare, GetMe, Curb, and others. The study acknowledges that many rideshare customers call Lyft or Uber to take them home after a night of celebration. This idea, one might think, is prudent. But the business students say:

Rideshare drivers have riders in their vehicle only a short time. More often, they are driving from fare to fare, location to location to find viable prospects. This activity is called deadheading. Traffic congestion has increased because of this practice.

People who would have taken public transit are now, because of the lowering of Uber and Lyft prices, using the rideshares. They are not substituting a trip taken in their automobile.

Before Uber launched in California, traffic deaths fell to the lowest number since 1949. This decline in deaths stopped and reversed after ridesharing became popular. The writers cannot pinpoint whether the effect is a "short-term adjustment or a longer-term pattern."

One American city, New York City, introduced a cap on ridesharing in August of 2018.

Lyft and Uber drivers have an array of regulations and procedures they must accept for them to be drivers for the companies. But what is a passenger to do if there is a fatal accident or a severe injury while riding in a ride-hail vehicle?

Cases

  • A Lyft passenger died in Sacramento, CA in 2014, after the Lyft driver swerved to avoid a Kia that spun out into the middle lanes. The passenger sitting in the left-back seat died in the crash.
  • In May of 2014,  a six-year-old child was killed in San Francisco when an Uber driver struck her as she was walking across a street near the Civic Center.
  • Pennsylvania woman was jerked out of the rideshare vehicle when the driver became disgruntled over an argument concerning the address the lady had chosen. The Uber driver pulled the woman out of his car in an unfamiliar area, at night, while it was raining.
  • A Miami man died when flames erupted in the Uber SUV in which he was riding. The driver of a Toyota Corolla slammed into the Uber vehicle, which was making a left-hand turn in Miami, causing it to roll over and burst into flames.

How We Can Help

At Freeman & Freeman, we know that many accidents are due to Lyft and Uber driver's mistakes, such as:

  • An Uber or Lyft driver who is under the influence
  • A driver who was distracted by an electronic device
  • The Uber or Lyft company overlooking thorough background checks
  • Improper vetting of drivers' health, and many more

Automobile accidents can be complex. Ridesharing accidents are even more complicated.

Uber and Lyft Attorneys

If you suffer any distress in any way during a rideshare trip, contact an experienced and trustworthy personal injury attorney, who knows the ins and outs of the ridesharing laws in California. Personal injury attorneys, like those at Freeman & Freeman, can:

  • Walk you through the insurance minefields
  • Assist you in deciding when the best time to settle your case to get maximum compensation
  • Help you navigate the rules of the rideshare company

Freeman & Freeman represents personal injury clients only. Personal injury law is what we have done for the past 30 years. Contact us today and let us guide you into getting the compensation you deserve.

What Happens When an Off-Duty Lyft Driver Causes an Accident?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

When Lyft drivers cause accidents while actively transporting a passenger, you know how it works: you contact the insurance provided by Lyft while they are on the clock. That insurance then pays the fees associated with your accident: damage to your vehicle as well as your medical bills, lost time at work, and other expenses associated with the accident.

What if the Lyft driver doesn't have a passenger at the time of the accident? Does Lyft insurance still cover them?

Rideshare Driver Insurance: The Basics

Rideshare drivers, like other drivers, carry basic car insurance that covers them any time they're in the car. Most rideshare drivers don't just use their vehicles for rideshare driving. They also use them for personal uses: running their own errands, getting to and from work or school, or simply puttering around town. 

When they drive completely off the clock--that is, they are not working for Lyft in any capacity--drivers use their personal car insurance to cover them in the event of an accident. Personal liability insurance will pay for the damage to your vehicle, up to the limits of their policy, as well as offering some coverage to help with your medical expenses or to cover your missed time at work because of an accident. Comprehensive insurance or collision insurance will provide coverage for their vehicle along with yours. 

When a driver is working for Lyft directly--that is, they have a passenger in the car--they are covered by Lyft's comprehensive insurance policy. This policy offers coverage regardless of who is at fault for the accident and will help cover injuries to any Lyft passengers, your injuries, and damages to your vehicle. 

If the Lyft driver is running their app but has not accepted a passenger, they are still covered by Lyft insurance. The contingent collision policy, according to Lyft, provides coverage "when the app is in driver mode before you've received a ride request in the event your personal insurance does not respond." In this case, the driver still has coverage (even if they don't have personal insurance), and you have options for ensuring that the accident is paid for. 

How Should You Proceed After an Accident with a Lyft Driver?

After an accident with a Lyft driver, regardless of whether they had a passenger at the time of the accident, start by collecting the same information you would collect from any other driver: license information, contact information, and insurance information. The Lyft driver may not carry a little card in their wallet that lets you know what coverage they have on their Lyft insurance policy; instead, they may need to give you a screenshot from the app with their policy number, driver number, and other relevant information. Store this information on your phone or in another location where you won't lose it since it will help you obtain coverage. 

If you suffered only minor injuries in the collision, contact your insurance company. Provide them with access to that information. You may need to make a statement about the accident, which you should write down as soon as possible before those events become scattered in your mind. 

If you suffered serious injuries, on the other hand, you may need a lawyer who specializes in Lyft accidents to help navigate the claims process. A lawyer can often increase the compensation you're able to receive from the accident and make it easier for you to collect evidence or prove the extent of your injuries. 

Did you suffer injuries in a crash with a Lyft driver, either on or off the clock? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.


Getting into a Car Accident Without Insurance

Thursday, August 08, 2019

In most of the United States, it is illegal to drive a car without proper insurance. There are consequences for being caught without insurance that vary depending on where you are. Some states charge first-time offenders a fee of at least $100, while other states may sentence first-time offenders up to 90 days in jail. Not having coverage will also cost you more for the damages you caused and will restrict the claims you can make. 

If you have car insurance but do not have proof of it with you during the time of the accident, you may get a citation for not having the paperwork with you. The citation may be dismissed if you are able to provide proof of insurance in court. In some states, you can show proof of insurance on your smartphone. 

As a precautionary measure, you should keep your policy ID card in your car at all times. 

 

What Happens if You Get Into a Car Accident Without Insurance

If You are Responsible for the Car Accident

If you are the driver responsible for the accident, you may be sued by the victim of the accident to cover the damages, medical expenses, as well as any emotional distress. You will also have to pay for any damages caused to your vehicle out of pocket.

Generally, an insurance provider would cover these costs and raise your minimum monthly payment for a period of time in exchange. However, that wouldn't be an option in this case. 

Depending on the severity of the accident, you may also have to report the accident to your state's DMV. 

 

If You are the Victim of a Car Accident

If you are the victim of a car accident, what you are allowed to sue the driver responsible for will be limited. You would go through with filing a third-party claim to the other driver's insurance. In the event that the other driver is also uninsured, they would be personally responsible for fulfilling the claims.

Again, the laws vary from state to state. Some states have what is known as the "no pay, no play" law. 

"No pay, no play" laws prevent victims without car insurance to sue for damages that aren't quantified with a dollar amount. For example, physical pain and emotional distress would not be something an uninsured victim could sue the other driver for. 

Additionally, uninsured drivers in "no pay, no play" states may also be charged with a large deductible towards repairs to their vehicle before they can go forward with suing the driver responsible for the accident. 

States with "no pay, no play" laws:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon

 

Being in a car accident without insurance, regardless of whether you were responsible or the victim, will also raise the rates if you are to apply for coverage in the future. 

Car insurance could save you thousands of dollars in an accident. It would cover the cost of damages and legal fees, however, your rate could still rise after being in an accident. Without proper coverage, you could have to sacrifice your assets if you aren't able to pay for the damages and additional fees out of pocket. 

Head on over to our blog for more free legal advice about personal injuries, including car accidents. If you are interested in learning more information about Freeman & Freeman or scheduling a free evaluation, please contact us. You deserve to know your rights and receive proper protection and we are here dedicated to assisting you every single step of the way.



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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.