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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.

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.


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.

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.


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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.