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Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

Monday, June 22, 2020

Injured Rideshare Drivers: Who Is Responsible?

Americans are increasingly relying on drivers for rideshare companies like Uber or Lyft to get them to their destination. While these drivers serve an important function, they also put themselves at high risk of injury. In 2018, there were over 3,000 fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes in California.

The results of a rideshare accident can be devastating to the driver. Injuries will mean lost wages, and damage to a vehicle could take away their only means of providing support for themselves or family. Rideshare drivers need to understand their rights for recovery if they are injured while driving for a company like Uber or Lyft.

Determining Fault

When there is a car accident, a party is considered at fault if they acted negligently in a way that caused injury to another person or property. Common actions that can lead to a finding of fault include any violation of a traffic ordinance, such as speeding or running a red light. If a driver received a traffic citation from the police, this is compelling evidence that they acted negligently.

Insurance companies will also use fault as a basis for determining which driver's insurance should pay any claims. In order to limit coverage obligations, insurance companies are strongly incentivized to demonstrate that their insured was not at fault.

To make sure you can establish a strong case against the other party, be sure to secure a police report, document the scene of the accident, and secure contact information for any witnesses.

Seeking Recovery

Rideshare drivers face a complicated web or responsibility when determining how to recover for their injuries after an accident. While the driver might feel that they are employed by Uber or Lyft, they will considered an independent contractor.

Independent Contractors

Whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor is a determination made by analyzing the relationship between the individual and the company for which they are providing services. The following factors indicate that an individual is an independent contractor rather than an employee:

  • They control the work that is performed and how it is done;
  • They manage the business components of their job;
  • They do not receive any employee benefits; and
  • There is no formal employee contract

The National Labor Relations Board has advised that rideshare drivers are independent contractors. This finding excludes Uber and Lyft drivers from pursuing a workers' compensation claim. This finding, however, could be up for debate in California where recent legislation looks to limit the use of independent contractors in the state's gig economy.

Because an independent contractor cannot recover under workers' compensation, they will need to depend on insurance providers to compensate them for their injuries.

Navigating Insurance Policies

There are several insurance policies that might come into play after a rideshare accident:

  • The driver's personal policy;
  • The rideshare company's insurance policy; and
  • The policy of the other driver

Your first step should be to review the rideshare company's protocol when an accident occurs. Both Uber and Lyft require drivers to submit a report to access the company's insurance policies. The Uber crash report is here, and the Lyft crash report is here. If it is unclear whether you were operating in the course of your duties at the time of the accident, this will serve to complicate recovery even further and may require you to involve your personal insurance company.

If you are a rideshare driver who has been involved in an accident, you may be overwhelmed with the stress of managing injuries while considering the financial impacts. Navigating the complexities of determining fault and contacting insurance companies is an unnecessary additional stress.  Contact our firm today to understand the strength of your case and your options for recovery.

Brain-Injured Rideshare Passengers Battle Uber for Justice

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Passengers expect their Uber and Lyft trips to be safe and problem-free. Of course, the reality is rideshare drivers have accidents too. It is difficult to determine how often passengers are injured while using a ride-hailing service. Although Uber recently released a safety report, the company did not include data on their accidents that resulted in non-fatal injuries. Yet, ride-hailing services have this data. They just don't make it public.

Each year transportation network companies, which is what the state of California calls ride-hailing services, must provide accident data to the state via the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The ride-hailing companies have asked the state to keep this safety data confidential. Thus far, the CPUC has honored their requests. A California politician is trying to get this critical information released to the public.

In the meantime, it's clear that rideshare passengers are being injured in collisions all over the country. The following cases show rideshare passengers have sustained serious brain injuries during their trips. These cases also demonstrate an injured rideshare passenger needs a strong Rideshare accident attorney to hold the responsible parties accountable. 

Uber Denies Hurt Passenger Has Right to Sue

Jillian Kemenosh is entangled in litigation with Uber. The basic facts of the case do not appear to be in question. In 2018, Kemenosh was using the service to get home. The Uber driver ran a red light and crashed into a vehicle. The accident left Kemenosh with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered spine.

When she sued Uber, the company claimed she had no right to sue. The company's argument is Kemenosh agreed to the company's terms of service, which requires her to settle legal disputes through binding arbitration instead of a jury trial.

Kemenosh countered that reading or agreeing to the terms of service was not required when she downloaded the app in 2013. A judge recently agreed with her according to media reports. The case is ongoing. It looks like Kemenosh may get the jury trial she desires.

Uber Rejects Responsibility for Passenger's Injuries

An Associated Press report indicates that ride-hailing service passenger Lokeshwaran Narayanasamy experienced a traumatic brain injury during an Uber ride from the airport. The driver hit a vehicle that had been abandoned on the road. In response to the 2017 lawsuit that Narayanasamy filed against Uber, the company said it wasn't responsible for his injuries because the driver is not employed by the ride-hailing service. 

In 2020, a federal judge ruled that a jury has to decide whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor. Narayanasamy's attorney is optimistic that a jury will classify the driver as an employee, which would mean the transportation service could be held accountable for Narayanasamy's injuries.

Passenger Sues Two Ride-Hailing Companies for Accident

The injuries that Sheila Hawkins received while taking Lyft to an appointment are similar to Jillian Kemenosh's injuries. Hawkins has brain and spinal injuries stemming from the highway crash. She alleges that her driver was distracted when he ran into a tractor-trailer because he had the Lyft app and the Uber app open to receive new rideshare requests. Hawkins contends these apps should be designed so that drivers cannot access them when their vehicles are traveling at high speeds. 

Los Angeles Uber Accident Lawyer

Have you been injured in an accident while you were traveling in a rideshare car? Did an Uber driver crash into your vehicle? We've helped hundreds of people in these situations. Contact us to have an experienced personal injury attorney help you navigate the complex process of getting everything you deserve. 



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