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Personal Injury Blog

The Uber Safety Report - What Isn't In It

Thursday, March 05, 2020

In March of 2018, a woman was killed when a self-driving Uber vehicle ran over her as she was crossing the street one night in Tempe, Arizona. Uber had foreseen the dangers of self-driving vehicles, and installed a "safety driver" in case of sudden emergencies; but on this night, the safety driver was busy streaming a show on her cellphone.

Because of this, and many other incidents involving Uber drivers—including thefts, alleged assaults, and overlong treks around cities—Uber launched a program called "RideCheck" in 2018. RideCheck is a GPS based program, which is intended to provide real-time tracking of Uber vehicles.

Did It Work?

At the end of 2019, Uber released the first of its US Safety Reports, summarizing the data gathered by its RideCheck program, detailing the number of deaths, accidents, assaults, robberies, and "non-consensual sexual contacts" that took place in Uber vehicles over the past two years. However, since this is the first such report, it is difficult to assess whether or not Uber has successfully reduced the number of such incidents in their vehicles since the inception of the program.

Some Concerns

Besides the mere accidents, where a Uber driver hit something (another vehicle, a fixed object) and injured a passenger, other disturbing findings include:

  • Substandard driving. Complaints about hard braking, swerving, abrupt lane changes.
  • Physical assault. This included yelling, assault, battery, and refusing to take the fare to the destination.
  • Sexual assault. Uber considered a sexual assault to include either an assault that happened during an Uber ride; or between two parties who met one another during an Uber ride. The assault itself could consist of everything from non-consensual kissing to rape.

What Isn't There

Uber's report did not include statistics on theft, robbery, non-fatal accidents; substance abuse or DUI among the drivers; mechanical failure or damage to the drivers' cars; reports of fraud; and other complaints that may be getting lost in the background of Uber use.

Uber is not, of course, a taxi company, but a transportation app. Their position had initially been that they provide a way to bring together people who want to drive and people who need a ride, and after that, the parties are on their own as to what happens next.  However, court cases in 2017 and 2018 made it clear that Uber drivers are employees, and Uber can be held liable for failing to screen out known felons and sex offenders, and for failing to terminate individuals who have displayed certain acts on the job—like watching live stream videos instead of watching the road.

So What Do I Do?

If you use Uber or Lyft and become the victim of a crime—any crime—or are involved in an accident, the first thing to do is contact the authorities. If you are injured, and the driver has not called 911, you should go at once to the emergency room. This will ensure that the insurance companies will pay for your treatment. If you have been the victim of any sort of crime, or even if you aren't really sure, call the police. Make sure a written report with the date and time of the incident exists.

Then call an attorney. Because of Uber's lackadaisical attitude until recently, the number of awful acts committed by their drivers is sadly high—and the number of attorneys handling them is not great. However, be sure you are in the correct jurisdiction. If you are in Los Angeles, or if the event took place in L.A., you will need an L.A. Uber accident attorney. Just because you're reading this in Des Moines doesn't mean you won't need the services of Freeman & Freeman if the Uber accident happened on your way out of LAX.


Convenience vs Safety: Uber and Lyft Accidents

Friday, February 21, 2020

As the 21st century is nearing the end of its second decade, the demand for ridesharing services is growing quickly. Meanwhile, the safety of hiring such "non-taxis" is becoming more and more questionable.

Uber has been around for 10 years. It has turned the life of people in many countries around. Cheaper rides with high accessibility upped the convenience tremendously. Some people have given up their vehicles in favor of such services. As Lyft and Uber made their way to the market, more and more users left taxis behind.

However, as the convenience of using rideshare over regular taxi services has become obvious, the safety and legal responsibility seem to be lurking in a grey area. What happens if there is an accident? Who is responsible?

Uber and Lyft Aren't Taxis 

When you book a taxi ride, you are entering an agreement with a taxi service provider. In case an accident occurs, the company's insurance covers the expenses.

When you get into an accident while using Uber or Lyft, you are covered by either the driver's insurance or the company's insurance. That's where it could get tricky. None of the companies is happy with covering your accident-related expenses, especially if a serious injury is involved. Most likely, you would need to hire an attorney to have your expenses settled timely and properly.

Ridesharing Services Increased the Number of Accidents 

According to a study done by researchers from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, the rise of ride-sharing services increased traffic-related deaths by 2% to 3% in the United States.

Other problems associated with the overwhelming use of rideshare are higher congestion and decreased exploitation of public transport. Both lead to harming the environment and making life inconvenient for busy city dwellers.

Some cities have already started to conquer the problem. For example, NYC introduced a cap on ridesharing services in 2018 and extended it for one more year in August 2019.

Top Reasons For Rideshare Accidents 

The convenience of using rideshare services is starting to be offset by dangers. The top reasons for rideshare accidents include:

Speeding

While rideshare drivers may be careful about maintaining speed limits when carrying a passenger to get 5-star reviews, they are likely to speed to get to the next client.

Lack of experience

When you hire a taxi, you are likelier to enjoy a ride with an experienced driver than when riding with Uber or Lyft. Drivers only need one year of experience to offer ridesharing services.  

Drowsy driving

In the race to earn more money, rideshare drivers tend to overwork. As a result, you may face a sleepy driver behind the wheel, thus increasing the chances of getting into an accident substantially.

Distraction

As rideshare drivers are taking you to your destination, they can get distracted by the rideshare app to take a new order. Drivers often look at their smartphones to secure a new client faster than the competition, thus pulling the attention away from the road.

Improper vehicle maintenance

Rideshare drivers often fail to maintain their vehicles properly due to the lack of time and financing. As a result, many passengers are injured when tires blow, brakes stop working or airbags don't open.

Final Thoughts 

While such rideshare companies as Uber and Lyft are highly convenient, they don't offer taxi services, which complicates the insurance payment process. As the number of rideshare-accidents is growing, more and more passengers are sucked into the black hole of unfulfilled claims. In some cases, proper expense coverage is impossible without legal assistance.

For more information about rideshare-related accident claims in Los Angeles and beyond, please contact us today.


What Happens if My Uber or Lyft Driver is Uninsured?

Thursday, February 06, 2020

In a recent Fox news story out of St. Petersburg, Florida, a passenger was injured during a Lyft ride -- and says that the Lyft driver was uninsured at the time of the accident. Cameron Decker, the Lyft passenger, is now looking to Lyft for answers after he discovered post-accident that his driver did not have up-to-date insurance. Decker suffered a severe neck injury, with multiple herniated discs and disc bulges in his neck and lower back, which has prevented him from returning to his usual day job as a trained saxophonist. What's more, Decker says his medical bills have been piling up, and he isn't sure when -- or if -- Lyft will take responsibility for this unfortunate accident. 

 

Who is Responsible After A Rideshare Accident?

 

Stories like this have been flooding news outlets lately, with injured passengers taking issue with the way that big rideshare companies, such as Lyft and Uber, are handling accident claims and incidents where the driver was uninsured. Riders in big cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Los Angeles often rely on rideshare companies to get to and from work, important appointments, and fun nights out on the town. Nobody expects to be left in a position like Cameron Decker was, earlier this year, stranded at the scene of an accident by his Lyft driver. 

"Decker's attorney says the driver had the correct policy when he started driving for the company, but at some point stopped paying the premiums and kept driving for the ride-sharing service." "How does this even happen?" Decker wanted to know, "Does Lyft not check in on their drivers monthly to make sure they are carrying the proper insurance?!"

Fox 13 reached out to Lyft to ask how often they check to see if drivers are continuing to carry the required coverage. 

According to Lyft, they fired the driver responsible, who also refused to exchange information with Decker before leaving him at the scene. They also said they were "working on getting an answer" to the question of checking insurance, but "wanted to reiterate all Lyft drivers are required to demonstrate proof of insurance when they are first hired." 

This answer does not seem to properly address Cameron Decker's situation, a situation that many other rideshare users find themselves in when they discover, after an accident, that their driver was not properly insured. This leads many Uber or Lyft passengers to take matters into their own hands by hiring a personal accident attorney. 

 

What Should I Do if My Lyft or Uber Driver is Uninsured?  

 

Uber and Lyft instruct their drivers to call 911 and ensure their passengers receive any necessary medical attention in the case of an accident. If your Uber or Lyft driver doesn't follow this protocol, make sure that you take these steps to make sure everybody involved is okay. 

After these essential steps, Uber and Lyft do not make it clear what happens in the case of an accident. Their websites enable riders to reach out to the company if an accident occurs, but the companies are not transparent about what happens after that. It is highly recommended to bring your case to an attorney in the case of a rideshare accident because you're up against big businesses that must protect their drivers and reputation. 

In any case, you should demand the following information from anyone involved in the accident: 

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Role in the accident (driver, passenger, rideshare passenger, etc.) 
  • Personal insurance information 
  • Lyft/Uber's insurance information 
  • Vehicle information (make, model, registration number, and license plate number) 

In addition, you should attempt to get the accounts of any witnesses as well as their information for follow-up. You should also take detailed pictures of the scene of the crash, including any damage to vehicles, properties, or persons. 

Because you may ultimately be dealing with multiple insurance agencies (your own, the other driver's, and Lyft or Uber's), it is extremely beneficial to get as much information as you can on the front-end. All of this information will prove useful to your attorney when making your case as strong and sound as possible. 

If you or a loved one is injured in a rideshare accident in the Los Angeles area, reach out to our offices today. We are experienced in dealing with complicated rideshare cases, so we'll know what to do to get your bills paid and to put your mind at ease.


4 Ways to be Safe when Using Uber & Lyft Rideshare Companies

Thursday, December 12, 2019

It sounds like a great idea. Use your smartphone, wherever you may be, and get a ride to wherever you want to go. But many individuals have concluded that "all that glitters is not gold." What started as a fresh idea for getting a ride when you need it, has now gone sour for many.  The "ease factor" is excellent. The downsides can be downright dangerous.

1. Be Extra-Safe when you Drive

In Seattle, 90,000 Uber or Lyft rides a day take place, which is more than the number of people that are transported by Seattle's light rail system. At the University of California Los Angeles, 11,000 Uber or Lyft trips occur within the boundaries of the university's boundaries. Walking seems no longer in fashion.

Of the cities with the highest Uber, Lyft, and rideshare users, driving has risen approximately 3 percent compared to cities that have a lower rate of Uber and Lyft usage. The overall effect is that more vehicles are on the roads that have too many vehicles already. Over-crowded streets set the perfect scene for accidents. This fact means when you are driving your personally-owned car, you must remain aware, cautious, and sensible.

2. Be Cognizant that Uber and Lyft Drivers may be Stressed or Anxious

Edward Escobar, a Denver Lyft and Uber driver, is the founder of the Alliance for Independent Workers. Escobar noted, in an interview this year, that:

The ride-hailing companies "are squeezing drivers into poverty, despair, suicide," Escobar said, pointing to a reported suicide by a Lyft driver in New York City last week, the ninth known suicide of a taxi or ride-hailing driver there since 2017.

Drivers are disturbed by the manner and amount they receive as payment. Escobar says he is making 80 percent less than he made last year.

Stressed drivers can make for bad drivers. If the driver of a vehicle is distracted or having anxiety-based difficulties, it is best to exit the car quickly.

3. Know that Not all Uber and Lyft Drivers are Who they Say they Are

In 2019, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old South Carolina student, was kidnapped and killed by a man impersonating an Uber driver. In the past, there have been up to two dozen such attacks. This type of crime includes driver suspects who have attacked multiple women. In Connecticut, Chicago, South Carolina, and other cities, these rare, but nightmarish crimes have occurred. From this particularly heinous crime comes a measure of hope. South Carolina has proposed a law that would require all Uber, rideshare, or Lyft drivers to display a lighted sign from their company.

The University of South Carolina started a new safety campaign that urges riders to ask the driver, "What is my name?" The valid driver will know his party's name due to his or her electronic mail sent to hail the driver.

4. Bring Your Car Seat

If an infant or toddler is riding with you, you must ensure the young one has a proper car seat for his or her age. It is not the driver's responsibility to have this equipment. Along with that, Lyft and Uber require that a parent accompanies children under the age of 18.  Drivers can get in trouble for allowing children to ride with no accompaniment. Parents need to be vigilant and never let a child call a Lyft or an Uber on his or her own.

Uber, Lyft, and Rideshare Safety

Here at Freeman and Freeman, we are delighted when accidents do not take place and our community remains safe. But call us if you need help with any issues that may arise due to the negligence of Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare business. Contact us at our Los Angeles offices today.


Will the Rideshare Million-Dollar Insurance Policy Cover My Uber or Lyft Accident?

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Much has been said about the one-million-dollar insurance policies carried by the leading rideshare companies of Uber and Lyft. These million-dollar policies are extended to protect every vehicle working on the clock for these ridesharing giants and the insurance coverage is even mandatory in several states. While a million-dollar policy sounds pretty extravagant, it's also absolutely necessary.

The insurance policy is how ridesharing brands take responsibility for their driver's actions, attention, and even intoxication. If a driver is on the clock, they and anyone who might be injured in a wreck with them is covered by the policy. Of course, there are also some pretty strict rules. Today, we're here to highlight just what the million-dollar policy covers in a real-world context. As an experienced rideshare attorney's office, we're here to help.

 

When is the Million-Dollar Rideshare Insurance Policy Active?

The Moment a Driver Accepts the Assignment

The million-dollar insurance policy is not covering all Uber or Lyft drivers all the time. Rather, it only covers drivers when they are officially on the job. Hanging around waiting for jobs does not count. This means that there is a specific moment when the insurance policy does become active. That moment is when the driver accepts the assignment to pick someone up. If they are hit or if they hit someone on the way to the pick-up, that incident is covered. And if an accident occurs involving the rideshare vehicle while ferrying the client, the damages to all will potentially be covered.

 

Who Does The Insurance Policy Cover?

The Passengers, and Any Additional Injured Parties, and Sometimes the Driver

Uber and Lyft's main goals with the insurance policy are to cover liability and damages for passengers and anyone who might be damaged by their drivers. This means that once your trip is accepted and you are on the policy, you are covered, Other drivers on the road are also covered if the accident is deemed the Uber driver's fault. An Uber or Lyft driver may make a claim on the company policy, but first, their claim has to be rejected by their personal policy with rideshare commercial endorsement.

So again: If you are a rideshare passenger or if you are in another vehicle hit by a rideshare driver, then the Uber or Lyft policies will cover injuries and damages if a strong claim is made. Drivers, however, must jump through hoops to have their injuries or vehicle damages covered by the policy.

 

My Uber/Lyft Got Into an Accident. Am I Covered by Their Insurance Policy?

Yes, Most Likely

You may be wondering what happens if you sign up for an Uber or Lyft ride, climb into the backseat, and then the vehicle experiences an accident. Are you covered? As mentioned above, the answer is most likely, yes. You are covered by the million-dollar insurance policy and able to make a claim against the rideshare company's insurance rather than against the driver themselves. You may have no problem with your driver and, in fact, it might not even be their fault.

 

My Uber/Lyft Driver was Not At Fault. Can I Still Claim my Injuries on the Million-Dollar Insurance Policy?

Yes, They Have Under-insured and Un-insured driver coverage.

Speaking of it not being the driver's fault, there are plenty of instances where a rideshare vehicle is severely damaged in a crash, not of their own doing. They may fail to slow down too fast or get slammed into by another vehicle.

If you have been injured in a rideshare accident where the injuries were not the fault of your driver, can you still make a serious claim against the insurance? Yes. You can and should. The rideshare million-dollar policy includes coverage for uninsured and overinsured drivers so that passengers can get the settlements they need even when the drivers at fault cannot pay.

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Have you been injured in a rideshare accident, or do you know someone who has? If so, contact our office today. We would be proud to help you tackle the complex process of making your rightful claim on that million-dollar insurance policy in order to get the treatment and damages payments you deserve.



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