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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

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.


Auto Accidents on California’s Interstate System

Thursday, August 01, 2019

When you get behind the wheel in California, you're surrounded by many beautiful environments, including mountains, beaches, and deserts. Life feels good, and it's easy to get lost in disbelief that such a paradise exists. However, there are many types of drivers about when you're traveling the roads, and, quite frankly, some are just not paying attention. Using the national highway system in the Los Angeles metro, which includes Interstates 5, 10, and 15, means you could be stuck hours in traffic and risking your life due to the carelessness of other drivers. If you get in a car accident, you could be seriously injured or killed and there could be a devastating effect on your family. It's important to learn about your rights as a crash victim if you've been involved in one of these auto accidents on California’s interstate system to determine if you should pursue a personal injury claim against the defendants in your case.

The Background

California drivers and tourists who visit throughout the year due to the warm climate and popular Hollywood attractions often expect that all motorists on the Interstates will follow the speed limit, which is typically 70 miles per hour. In a perfect world, drivers are always paying attention because they're ignoring frequent distractions from their cell phones, passengers and pets traveling in their vehicle, and events happening on the highway. These statistics about driving on our Interstates might surprise you:    

  • One report found that Interstate 5 was the fourth-deadliest highway in the U.S. 
  • A 2015 report from the Insurance Information Institute found 15 percent of California drivers were uninsured, which is 11 percent lower than the worst state (Florida). 

Tips for Driving Safely on the Interstate 

Using the Interstate system does not have to claim the lives of you or your loved ones. It's possible to use these highways for efficient commuting by remembering these safety tips:

  • Talk to your boss about changing your work shift. This could enable you to use the Interstate system at non-peak times. For example, starting at 7:00 am instead of 8:00 am could get you off the Interstate before most commuters are using it. Then, you could leave work and get home before rush hour in the afternoon.
  • Watch your GPS for alerts on accidents and construction zones. Most sections of the Interstate have an alternate route. A serious accident could shut down the highway for hours, especially to accommodate onlooker delays.
  • Pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks. Then, you can stop at rest areas and minimize stops on the exits.
  • Schedule sections of your trip when you're likely to be tired for non-peak hours. You need all of your wits about you on the road.
  • Avoid driving late at night and during inclement weather. If you must drive at night, travel with at least one other person. This person can talk to you and help you stay awake when the road is dark and less traveled. 
  • Keep your gas level above half a tank. If there is a long traffic delay, worrying about running out of gas could distract you.
  • Stop and rest your eyes. Take a walk. Relieve the stress of being on the road.

For more information about filing a claim for injuries sustained in a California car accident, contact us at Freeman & Freeman and schedule a free consultation. We help clients in the Los Angeles metro and nearby communities. There is a statute of limitations, which is a time limit on when you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a car crash case. Typically, you have only two years to pursue a claim for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will determine if our dedicated legal team can aggressively pursue your rights under the law. 



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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.