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Personal Injury Blog

How to Be Safer When Using an Uber

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Uber is supposed to be the safer option: better, for example, than attempting to drive drunk in an unfamiliar city. Unfortunately, many people are skeptical about Uber rides--and with good reason. Fake drivers are out there--and they know how to convince you that they are, in fact, your Uber driver and that they're there to pick you up. Try some of these strategies to stay safer. 

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Driver

Before you get into the Uber, double check to make sure that you have the driver that the app says is coming to get you. The app provides a lot of information about your driver's vehicle, including the make, model, and license plate number of their car. The driver won't be offended if you walk around the car or check them out before you get in. You're just keeping yourself and everyone in your party safer!

2. Buckle Up

Any time you get into a moving vehicle, you need to be buckled in. Uber vehicles are no different from other passenger vehicles: they provide no extra protection against an accident, nor does the driver receive extra training about avoiding accidents or keeping their passengers safe. Buckle up as soon as you get in the car. 

3. Pay Attention

You've paid the Uber driver to get you safely to your destination. To many passengers, this means you can simply turn your attention to your phone or your friends. After all, your driver has GPS and knows the area. They don't need your input to get there. 

Paying attention, however, can let you know if any red flags are being raised. Is the driver taking the wrong route or headed toward a place you don't recognize? Is the ride taking far longer than it should have? Is the driver displaying signs of erratic behavior? By paying attention, you can increase the odds that you'll notice a problem before it leads to serious danger. 

4. Know When to End the Ride

If you call for an Uber, you always have the right to cancel or end the ride--even in the middle of it. You can end your ride early for any reason. If you feel unsafe, the driver is behaving erratically, or your gut is telling you to get out of the car, trust your instincts. This is particularly true if you notice your driver speeding, driving distracted, or ignoring traffic laws. If you end the ride, you can request another driver to take you the rest of the way to your destination or use an alternate form of transportation to get there. It may take a little longer, but if you feel unsafe, it's not worth taking the risk.

5. Leave Reviews

Did you get in an Uber with a driver who did not behave safely behind the wheel? Did they drive distracted, appear to be drunk, ignore traffic laws, or do something that made you uncomfortable? Leave a review! Not only does Uber seriously consider these reviews and check over them on a regular basis--in some cases, leading to the removal of drivers from their pool--your review can also help other riders decide when to avoid a driver who could cause a danger to them. While those reviews can't always prevent accidents or ensure safety, they can help prevent someone else from having a bad experience. 

Did you suffer injuries from an Uber driver, in spite of your best efforts to be safe? Do you need legal help to get the compensation you deserve after an accident? Contact us today to learn how we can help.


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.

Who is Responsible for Accidents with Student Drivers?

Thursday, January 04, 2018

At one point, every single driver that travels the road was a learning student. They learned the rules of the road and then began to put them into practice under the instruction and supervision of a driving instructor. While an instructor's job is to make sure a student learns to drive safely, it is also part of their job to make sure they don't get into any accidents. Unfortunately, the thing about accidents is that no matter how hard you try to prevent them, they still happen. However, an accident with a student driver is tricky business. As they are not yet fully-fledged drivers and don't have insurance, does that automatically make you, the adult driver, responsible for covering the damage?

Negligence in Student Driver Accidents

If you, the adult driver, were the negligent party in an accident with the student driver, then it would work very much the same as a regular auto accident. Your insurance may be held on the hook for damages to both vehicles. However, if it can be proven that the student driver was the negligent one, then things will happen a little differently. Instead of the student being held responsible, since they have no insurance, instead the instructor will be held responsible.

If the instructor is part of a driving school, typically they have top-notch auto insurance and there is very little to worry about. However, quality of auto insurance can vary if the instructor comes as part a high school driver's education program, yet that doesn't change their liability. Similarly, if you got into an accident with a learning student while they were logging driving practice hours on their learner's permit with a parent, it will be the parent's auto insurance that will be used to cover your damages.

It is also important to remember that it is a driving instructor's job to intervene in dangerous situations to prevent accidents. In these cases, you may be able to hold the instructor as well as the driving school responsible for any injuries you sustained if they did not take enough precaution to prevent the accident. If the student was speeding or conditions on the road were not safe for driving, it is the instructor's duty to intervene in order to prevent accidents. If accidents happened as a result of that, then the instructor's skills can be called into question and the driving school can be pursued for negligent hiring practices.

However, this route should only be pursued if you were grievously injured in an accident. Otherwise, it will not result in much other than just ruining someone's life for a simple accident.

What to Do After an Accident with a Student Driver?

Actions taken after an auto accident with a student driver are actually very similar to any other auto accident. After the accident has occurred, you should:

  • Gather Information - Get the name of the student, the driving instructor, and the driving school as well as any insurance information. You may also want to gather witness statements, if possible, to verify how the accident happened and who appeared to be at fault.
  • Call the Police - It is crucial to call the police after an accident so they can create a police report. This is excellent evidence for your claim.
  • Take Photos - Be sure to snap as many photos as need be to document the damage to both vehicles, the scene of the accident, and any injuries that were the result of the accident.

Have you been in an accident with a student driver in the Los Angeles area only to find that the instructor is pushing back against covering the damage? Contact us today so the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman can help you.

Truck Accidents: Jackknifing Is A Major Concern As The Weather Turns And Roads Get Wetter

Thursday, December 29, 2016

With winter weather coming, you can expect the highways to get slicker and harder to navigate. You can also expect to see something else: more jackknifed 18-wheelers leaving injured people in their wake. Learn more about why this specific problem happens and what you should do if you become a victim of someone's carelessness.

What are the dangers of a jackknifed truck?

When an articulated vehicle has a cab attached to a trailer in the back by a jointed hitch, a driver that loses control of the truck can end up with the trailer folded up at a right angle from the cab, like a partially open jackknife. This can end up causing chain reaction accidents among vehicles anywhere in the truck's wake. The truck can even force smaller vehicles off the road or smash into other vehicles in its path.

What causes a truck to jackknife?

Most of the time, jackknifing is caused by nothing more than wet roads and driver error. A driver who isn't prepared to hit a slick spot on the road will put the brakes down on the drive axles too hard and too fast. The drive wheels will lock, stopping the cab, while the back end of the truck continues rolling forward.

A careful driver can prevent jackknifing by staying conscious of the weather as he or she moves through different areas and watching the road ahead. He or she can also prevent the problem through basic safety measures:

  • not tailgating and generally maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, especially in wet or snowy weather
  • breaking slowly and carefully to avoid locking the drive axles 
  • slowing down in advance of turns, bends, ramps, and curves in the road, all of which require careful deceleration of the vehicle 

In addition, an experienced driver who realizes that his or her vehicle is swinging out of control should know to aim for the burn of the road, away from other vehicles, in order to minimize the potential injuries to others.

Why should you consider talking to an attorney?

Inexperienced drivers and negligence are the primary causes of jackknifing, which means that the truck driver and trucking company failed to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of others on the road. Other causes can include mechanical failure, which may indicate that the trucking company hasn't been properly caring for its vehicles, and loads that are improperly packed, which shift suddenly or provide too little traction on the back half of the truck.

If you're injured due to a truck that jackknifed, you may be suffering from serious injuries that can take a long time to heal or alter your life forever. In order to receive fair compensation, talk to an attorney who is familiar with the complexities of truck accidents and their causes. You may have to press a lawsuit against more than one person or company in order to be fairly compensated in the end.

Injury Toll Linked to Takata Airbags Increases

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New updated statistics released by Japanese auto parts company Takata show that the number of injuries now linked to the company’s defective airbags, is now at 105. Additionally, six deaths are confirmed linked to the defective airbags.

One thing is clear-the investigation into the defective Takata airbags is ongoing, and as the investigation progresses, we are more likely to come across even more reports of injuries linked to the defective airbags. Already, more than 20 million cars have been recalled for injury risks to customers from the malfunctioning airbags. Those injury risks involve pieces of debris flying out from airbags that can inflate with ferocious force. The fragments or debris can fly in to the faces of the occupants, posing a serious risk of catastrophic injury.

There is a serious risk of eye injuries, or even vision loss. Additionally, occupants may be at risk of puncture wounds, lacerations, abrasions, and all types of other injuries. The excessive force can cause trauma, eye injury, head injuries and neck injuries. These airbags are meant to save lives. However, when these malfunctioning airbag inflators, they can either kill the occupant, or leave him with severe injuries or disability.

What makes the problem even worse is that even after the recalls were announced, Takata has been very slow to repair the recalled car. It plans to replace the airbag inflators in these cars. However, it has admitted that it has been having a problem manufacturing enough numbers of airbag inflators to fix the recalled malfunctioning vehicles. Takata has announced that it will soon significantly increase production of replacement airbags. The federal administration has also been very critical about the company’s slowness in announcing the recall, and also its tardiness in providing the information that the federal administration needs in order to complete the investigation.

If you were injured in an accident that you believe was caused by a defective airbag, talk immediately with an injury lawyer in Burbank to explore your legal options.


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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.