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Personal Injury Blog

The Responsibility and Liability of Uber Drivers

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Uber Accidents Los Angeles

If you use have an accident with a driver for shared ride services like Uber in California, how does the liability insurance work? Uber and other transportation network companies are required by California law to carry one million dollars in full coverage liability insurance. Dealing with car insurance companies can be difficult, even in commonly occurring accident situations between licensed drivers. When you have an accident involving companies like Uber, the issues can quickly become complicated. Uber has had a long history of issues regarding driver registration and regulation issues.

Uber is a Technology Company Not a Transportation Company.

Part of the trouble is that the private vehicles Uber uses for its on-call service are usually not registered as commercial vehicles. The drivers do not need commercial driver's licenses. Currently, in fact, the courts have been viewing Uber, not as a transportation company, but as a technology company that just provides software to drivers and the public so they can communicate to arrange carpools. This is a handy legal device for an industry that appears to be competing head-to-head with taxi services. Courts in the European Union have ruled the Uber is a transportation company but the issue is still contentious.

In 2015 the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued an "advisory" to ridesharing companies that drivers must have commercial license plates on their vehicles. This advisory strengthens the view that Uber is a transportation company in competition with licensed taxi companies. This advisory is expected to make recruiting drivers for Uber to be more difficult. An advisory has an ambiguous legal status and its effect may lead to ambiguity.

Uber Drivers Are Not Uber Employees.

There are many legal wrinkles in the insurance for Uber drivers. The procedure is that accident claims must first go through the driver's personal insurance. The personal insurance usually covers the claim for your damages. If the personal insurance company denies the claim, the driver can file a claim on Uber's supplementary policy. The courts are still working through the question of whether Uber drivers are employees. It may be settled in California, but those claims to Uber's supplementary policy are sometimes hard to recover because Uber does not list its drivers as employees, but independent contractors. Uber disclaims responsibility for the driver's accidents or issues. In accident situations, victims have had to resort to lawsuits and the issues around settlements are not clear.

Uber Offers Primary Liability Insurance and Contingent Collision/Comprehensive Insurance.

Ordinary auto insurance policies do not cover the kind of commercial use of vehicles that Uber operates. The company, Uber, itself provides a supplementary insurance policy to cover its drivers and passengers. When Uber drivers are just driving their cars, not for Uber, they are just covered by their own personal liability policies. Once the driver accepts a passenger, the supplementary policy kicks in to a value of $1 million from the time the driver goes en route to pick up the passenger until the ride is complete. Drivers are covered by the Uber Insurance Policy for liability. Uber describes this insurance as a "primary policy." In case of an accident Uber's policy is supposed to take effect before the driver's personal insurance does. Uber offers collision and comprehensive insurance to cover damage to the driver's vehicle. The insurance has a $1,000 deductible and is payable only after the driver's own policy rejected the claim. The amount of collision damage varies by state. In California, coverage is $30,000.

Uber / Lyft Accident Attorneys

If you have an accident with an Uber vehicle or that of any ride-sharing company, the status of the driver as an employee is not crystal clear. If you have an accident, you will be insured for liability, but the coverage may be unclear and may be hard to collect. Collection of claims for damage may be complicated. You should probably contact a lawyer to work through the issues with you.

Freeman & Freeman, LLP personal injury lawyers are based in Los Angeles but represent clients throughout Southern California. They have the resources and experience to help you pursue compensation after an injury caused by someone else's negligence.  Please contact us to learn more.


Can a Jaywalking Pedestrian Seek Compensation For an Accident?

Friday, February 15, 2019

If you live in California, you likely seek more than one jaywalker every day whether you are walking or driving. Chances are, if you are walking somewhere, you might be the one jaywalking because literally, everyone else seems to do it. If the roads seem clear, then making the extra effort to walk to the nearest crosswalk seems like a waste of effort and time when you can just cross right there. Unfortunately, there are laws against jaywalking specifically because of how unsafe it is for pedestrians. Yet, the question remains, if a pedestrian is struck by a driver while they are jaywalking, can they still get compensation for the accident?

The short and easy answer? Like usual, it is a maybe.

Duty of Care Required By Drivers and Pedestrians

By California law, both driver and pedestrian are required to exercise a certain duty of care that can be at play in these cases. Drivers are required to yield to the right of way of pedestrians at both marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections. They are expected to reduce speed when approaching an intersection with potential pedestrians and take caution for any crossings. Unfortunately, there are times when the driver can't spot a pedestrian, and this becomes more likely when a pedestrian is jaywalking.

Similarly, the pedestrian is expected to take the same duty of care by not leaving the curb and walking into oncoming traffic. Doing so not only puts their safety at risk but the safety of the driver as well. Having to make an unexpected stop even at a crosswalk is dangerous when driving with even light other traffic as the driver can cause other auto accidents trying to avoid the pedestrian.

In truth, this duty of care still extends to jaywalking by both parties. However, as the pedestrian was jaywalking, it often limits their ability to get compensation for the accident. Though, the pedestrian is not without options. If the driver was also behaving badly, compensation can still be recovered.

Jaywalking pedestrians can still recover compensation if the driver was:

  • Speeding

  • Intoxicated

  • Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, all of the above can occasionally be difficult to prove without the help of a skilled lawyer.

California Comparative Negligence

As a comparative negligence state, the portion that the jaywalking pedestrian can be placed at fault will be deducted from the compensation they can receive. For example, if a pedestrian who was jaywalking was deemed to be about 50 percent at fault for an accident with a driver that was speeding, they can only recover 50 percent of the damages awarded by the court.

This does mean that even if you were jaywalking, you can still recover some compensation if you were hit by a motorist. However, it also means that you might not recover all the compensation that you need to cover your medical bills. For this reason, it is really best if you just make the effort to walk to the nearest crossing. Being hit by a car is pretty traumatic, but if you have to be hit by a car, you should at least be able to recover full compensation for it because you were both following the law and exercising your duty of care as a pedestrian.

Need Help?

Were you one of California's many jaywalking pedestrians that just, unfortunately, happened to be struck by a car? As you were doing something illegal, you may think your options for recovering compensation simply don't exist. However, that isn't true at all. Contact us today so we can look over your case. Come see how the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you get the compensation that you deserve from a traumatic pedestrian accident.

Can a Car With In-Vehicle Tech Be Used to Prove Distracted Driving?

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Distracted Driving

Car accidents are traumatic, and more so when they literally come out of nowhere and completely derail an otherwise average day. You could be driving down the road one minute and suddenly a driver in the other lane swerves into you for some unknown reason. However, in a large number of accidents, distracted driving can be at play. When it is, you can use distracted driving as a cause for the accident in your personal injury case to prove negligence and make sure all your medical and repair bills will be paid in full for something that wasn't your fault.

When the term "distracted driving" is brought up, the mind still drifts to the old standard. You know, a person talking on a cell phone or trying to do their make up while eating a bowl of cereal. However, with many states adopting anti-distracted driving laws, cell phones aren't really as much of a worry as they once were. Unfortunately, there is a new menace on the road, and it is being increasingly pushed out by almost all car manufacturers - in-vehicle technology.

In-Vehicle Technology

In-vehicle technology can be everything from your navigation system to touch screens and even voice activation systems. It was meant to actually cut down on distracted driving, but new studies have found that it has had quite the opposite effect. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that these new systems often take away driver attention for an average of 40 seconds. That is terrifying news considering that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chance for an accident.

Of course, the problem with distracted driving as a cause for an accident is proving it. Certainly, with cell phone records, you could track the times of calls and texts to the time before the accident. If they were using the wireless devices in their car at the time, this is still a valid route in pursue. However, it can be more difficult if the driver was doing something less easy to prove like messing with their navigation, an act that has been found to be one of the biggest distractions one can do while driving.

In these sort of accidents, you will want to trust in the ability of the police to investigate. Be very clear on the circumstances of the accident, and bring up that you may suspect that distracted driving was at play. You may also want to see if you can find any witnesses to the accident that may have seen suspicious activity such as swerving or a random increase or decrease in speed before the accident, as this heavily suggests distraction.

Once you made sure that the police filed a report for the accident, unfortunately, much of the rest of gathering evidence lies with you and your chosen lawyer. Your personal injury lawyer will have a number of different resources at their disposal, so if you suspect distracted driving as a cause, be sure to let them know it. If a driver can be proven to be distracted and that caused your accident, this can be a huge boon to your case to make sure that you get the compensation that you require.

Your Biggest Weapon

Have you been in an accident on the road? Even if distracted driving is probably not the cause of your accident, we can help you. A lawyer is your biggest weapon in personal injury cases, and you need to make use of it to get the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can do to help you get your justice for your injury.


Liability in Weather-Related Car Accidents

Thursday, January 17, 2019

There are a lot of factors that can cause a car accident. It could be because a driver was texting. It could because a driver was drunk. It could even be because the driver was thinking so hard and got caught up in their own thoughts. However, on occasion, it could be because the driver couldn't see because it was literally raining sideways or some other weather-related incident was taking place. When the weather causes a car accident, it can be a difficult situation when it comes to placing the blame so that those involved can get compensation.

Is It Your Fault When You Drive in Bad Weather?

The unfortunate reality is that when you go out on the road, you are expected to take "reasonable care" of your own safety. This means if road conditions were too unsafe to drive, they can place fault of an accident with you because you made the conscious choice to drive on them. You should have known that it was too unsafe to drive and should have gotten off the road. This is such an unfair thing to hear, but if your accident was caused by weather, you should get ready to hear it. So if you couldn't see because it was raining, if you swerved and hit another driver, you would be at fault for that accident without question. It was you that caused it, and not so much the weather.

While that seems rather unfair, you are burdened with the decision to get off the road or continue driving. By making the choice to just soldier on, you must deal with the consequences. Furthermore, if the weather was a known event and not unexpected, this further supports the fact that you chose to go and drive in it instead of staying off the road until it stopped.

Shared Fault in Weather Accidents

In weather accidents, often both parties can contribute to the crash. While the driver at fault will still probably be held liable, others can share some fault too. When the weather gets bad, drivers are expected to:

  • Drive at a reasonable speed, even if it is below the posted limit
  • Follow other vehicles at a safe distance
  • Take action to avoid accidents

If a driver was riding your bumper and you had to stop suddenly, your stopping technically causes the accident, but they were also not giving you a fair amount of space. As such, they share the fault for the accident. In fact, in that situation, they may be held fully at fault for it.

When a Driver is Not at Fault in Weather

While rare, there are some situations in which the driver that actually caused the crash is not at fault. Say, for example, that a giant wave came over a coastal road and pushed your car into the other lane. This caused a multi-car wreck. However, this situation would be considered an act of god, something that no one could have anticipated. This frees the driver from liability for causing the crash.

Need Help?

If there is one thing to take away from a weather-related car accident, it is that the person who caused the crash is likely the one to be held liable. Unfortunately, you cannot get compensation from the weather, so holding them to blame does nothing for anybody involved.

If you have been in an auto accident in the Los Angeles area, whether it was weather-related or not, contact us today. We can help you get the compensation that you deserve as well as help to limit your own liability if necessary.

Bus Injuries As a Result From Sudden Acceleration

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Not all injuries on a bus occur from a random accident. In fact, bus travel is a relatively safe form of travel where accidents are either fairly minor to those inside or very rare altogether. However, an accident is not the only way to get hurt on a bus. Often the biggest cause of bus-related accidents comes in the form of accidents between the passenger and just riding on the bus. One of the most common includes accidents from rapid acceleration by the bus driver.

Rapid Acceleration: Driver or Passenger Fault?

For those who ride on the bus every day, they might not be altogether unfamiliar with the rapid acceleration of the bus by its driver. You get on the bus and while looking for a seat, the bus suddenly jolts forward as the driver eagerly pushes towards their next stop. Bus drivers are trained so that this acceleration should be rather gentle, but they still should wait until all passengers are safely sat down before moving.

So if this rapid acceleration did occur, whose fault is it? It seems fairly straightforward that it would be the driver's fault for not waiting for all passengers to be secure, but that is not always the case. The driver can't always control the passengers or other outside factors on the road. If they need to accelerate to change lanes or avoid hazards, they need to do so. If this time coincides with a passenger fooling around and not sitting safely, then the fault doesn't actually lie with the driver, but with the passenger.

However, while a bus may be full of many witnesses, usually it is not the witness testimony that is relied upon to prove fault. Instead, many buses come with surveillance that helps determine the liability in the accident. If passenger surveillance determines that the passenger was misbehaving in an unsafe manner, they may be barred from compensation from the accident.

Types of Injuries That Can Occur From Sudden Acceleration

When it comes to the rapid or sudden acceleration of a bus, the most common type of accident is a fall. This can manifest a number of serious injuries. However, while a fall on a public bus may be embarrassing, it is important to remember that you must have sustained sufficient harm in order to pursue a lawsuit. A scrape or a scratch, in most cases, it is not enough to pursue what will be an expensive lawsuit.

In bus accidents, it is usually only worth pursuing a lawsuit if your injuries forced you to go to the hospital. The sudden acceleration could be breaking your arm after a fall or serious head trauma after hitting something on the bus like the edge of a seat. Both these injuries, and many others, will likely result in your hospitalization after the accident. If you have medical bills that resulted from an accident, this is always a case for litigation. However, you will find that if you only suffered minor injuries, a lawsuit seeking punitive compensation will likely be unsuccessful even if the driver is completely at fault. The world looks down on frivolous lawsuits that are solely meant to punish, and they have a much higher chance of being unsuccessful these days.

Need Help?

For most, the only bus accident they fear is a serious auto accident that will be blamed on traffic. However, injuries can happen on a bus without an actual crash. If you have been the victim of a sudden acceleration bus injury, and need help getting compensation to cover your medical bills, contact us today. Let the Freeman & Freeman Law Firm come to your aid.


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