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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 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.


You Have a Strong Case, But A Lawyer Won't Take It

Thursday, January 03, 2019

You don't have to be educated in the law to know what makes a strong accident case. If you were in an accident that was not your fault with your vehicle totaled, it looks like you have a pretty solid case. However, when you take it to a personal injury attorney to get your injuries and other damages covered, they turn you down. For most lawyers, they will explain why they won't take your case. However, sometimes that answer isn't really enough to satisfy you. 

So why isn't a personal injury lawyer taking your case?

In some instances, a law firm may simply be too busy to take your case. In fact, if you don't get a yes, this is the answer you want. No one wants a law firm that is technically too busy to try and take their case. It won't get the attention that it deserves.

However, aside from that very reasonable excuse not to take on your case, the main reason is that your case isn't as strong as you think it is. Even if you know that it is not your fault, legal cases are all about being able to prove it. The biggest reason that a law firm won't take your case is that they don't think they can prove it, or it would be too much of a challenge to do so.

The law firm would be responsible for presenting evidence that supports the fact that the accident was both not your fault and caused your injuries. For most accident cases, this isn't as hard. They will gather witness statements, examine police reports, and often evidence can be gathered from simply examining the scene of the crime.

Another big issue comes with proving how much you were hurt. If you were in an accident other than an auto accident, compensation comes from covering your injuries. However, they will need to prove the extent of those injuries. This is where problems can come from. Certain injuries, such as spine or head injuries, can be very tricky to prove. Furthermore, they can be worse than anyone imagines, so it is difficult to prove and get adequate compensation for them.

What does all this have to do with a lawyer not wanting your case? 

 The reason is simple: they don't want to lose. Some lawyers get paid only if they win, so if they don't win then that case has been nothing but a waste of time. Even if a lawyer does get paid for their time even if they lose, fighting a case that is extremely difficult may not be worth their time either. It means they have less time for other cases and it is a detriment to their firm.

If you have had your case denied by a law firm, it is not the end of the world. However, if you have had your case denied by several law firms, there is usually a reason for it. It is too difficult to prove and too difficult to win. However, in these cases, it may be tempting to give up. Yet, for those in an accident, giving up on their case may not be an option. You need that compensation for expensive medical bills and you need a lawyer that will help you fight for it.

If you have been in an accident in the greater Los Angeles area and need a lawyer that is willing to fight for your case, contact us today. The Law Office of Freeman & Freeman is ready to help you go over your case as well as to point out any specific problem areas that may occur.


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.

When is an Injury Serious Enough for an Lawyer?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

soft tissue injury hospital bill

If you were hurt in any kind of accident, your injuries will need treatment. Many believe that they should only get lawyers involved if they are laid up in a full body cast and unable to work, but the truth is that minor injuries can often rack up huge expenses too. If the injury was not your fault, why should you be stuck paying for your medical bills even if they are for something small? If someone else's negligence caused an injury, even if it is a minor one, you shouldn't be stuck with the bill.

Seeking Compensation for Soft Tissue Injuries

By insurance companies, relatively minor injuries are labeled as "soft tissue" injuries. While they are small, they still merit representation by a skilled personal injury attorney in order to receive compensation. Soft tissue injuries include:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Injuries like whiplash
  • Torn ligaments

The above injuries might be something that people feel they can just walk off or that seeking compensation is not worth the effort. However, the problem with soft tissue injuries is that they can often turn into something more. Everything from a strain to a torn ligament can potentially become worse and lead to permanent damage. Unfortunately, if you only decided to seek compensation after it gets worse, often you will find yourself outside the statute of limitations to file for a personal injury case. This is why it is important to file even for small injuries, not only in order to not pay for an injury that wasn't your fault, but to be able to get future compensation if complications occur.

Unfortunately, those who think that pursuing compensation for soft tissue injuries will be somehow easier, but they would be wrong. Insurance companies are unwilling to pay out any sort of money, even if it is a relatively small amount, without a fight. This is why it is so crucial to invest in a personal injury attorney for any injury. Going it alone will allow insurance companies to try to trip you up in order to try to give you less compensation than your injuries deserve.

When to Talk to a Lawyer

When injured, you shouldn't wait to contact an attorney if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim. One of the first benefits is that even during your initial consultation, a lawyer will evaluate the specific details of your case in order to make sure it is a legitimate claim. The evidence will be analyzed, the details will be looked over, and if the other party involved was truly negligent then your lawyer will meet with the insurance company with you to get compensation.

If you decide to meet with insurance adjusters first without a lawyer, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Alongside not wanting to pay you, insurance adjusters will also work hard to make sure you don't reach out to an attorney. They make try to make you feel very comfortable and seem upstanding, but it is every insurance adjuster's job to keep costs low. The best way that they can do that is to keep you in the dark about the process as much as possible, and that means keeping you from feeling like you need a lawyer.

If you were hurt in Greater Los Angeles area, even if it was just a minor injury, you deserve compensation. Contact us today so the great legal minds at Freeman & Freeman can go over your case and represent you. Don't just let the injuries caused by another negligent party go, you don't deserve to have to pay for injuries that weren't your fault.


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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.