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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

10 Steps to Handle an Out-of-State Uber or Lyft Accident - Pt 2

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Welcome back to the second half of this two-part article on Uber and Lyft accident aftermath. Last time, we covered what to do in the vehicle right after the accident. Along with taking care of medical needs and contacting the police to help clean up. Join us again today as we pick up where we left off. 

The Usual Accident Aftermath - Cont.


Collect Evidence & Witnesses

If you can, gather contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident. When combined with GPS and cellphone data, often witnesses are the best way to clarify exactly what happened on the road for legal and insurance purposes later on. Having contact with your witnesses allows you to get in touch later and take advantage of their third-party knowledge of the scene.

Get Safely to Your Hotel

Once the accident is cleaned up, please get yourself safely to your hotel. Don't let shakiness or stress after the accident put you in greater danger. Call another ride or take public transport to get somewhere you can shower and sleep off the incident. This way, you can plan your next steps from the comfort and safety of a hotel room.

Criminal or Civil Court Cases

The most difficult part of an out-of-state accident is dealing with court dates. If there is a criminal case brought up by the DA of the accident state, you may be called upon as a witness to speak for or against the charged driver. And if you choose to raise a civil case, you will likely need to file it in the county where the accident happened, not in your local court.

Court Occurs in the State of the Accident

It's important to understand that where the accident happens influences which court presides over cases. Both civil and criminal cases will be presided over by a local judge, and the local traffic laws will be what determines the outcome.

Research the Relevant Laws of the Accident State

To this end, you'll want to be aware of any relevant laws that are different from Minnesota standards. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case, for example, or different statutes for safe driving laws. Do a little personal research and confer with an experienced lawyer to find out what you need to know about a court in another state.

Work With an Experienced Lawyer

Speaking of legal counsel; you may need some. Now is the time to get in touch with an experienced rideshare accident lawyer who can help you handle the aftermath of out-of-state Uber or Lyft accident. Speak about the details of your case and then discuss your options for insurance claims and civil suits.

Be Prepared for Out-of-State Court Dates

Finally, be prepared to do a little extra traveling. Working with your lawyer and the court, you may be able to get a few remote participation accommodations. But eventually, there's a good chance you'll need to be personally present in the courtroom despite the fact that you live out of state. Be prepared for this. Know where the presiding courthouse is, find an affordable hotel nearby, and work with the court to lock down a workable set of dates for you to be available. Your lawyer can help you hammer out a plan that doesn't take you away from work for too long.

 

Dealing with Uber or Lyft

Other than legal proceedings, you may also need to deal with the rideshare company involved. Whether you were working with Uber, Lyft, or a local contemporary, it's important to keep on top of the situation because theirs is the insurance that may need to pay for your injuries. And like all insurance, claims can be denied for. Be prepared to work with a lawyer to define and defend your claim on Uber or Lyft's million-dollar-policy for incidents such as yours.

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If you or someone you know has recently been in an Uber or Lyft accident, especially if it was out of state, you will need legal assistance to navigate the future ahead. Always make sure that your injuries and the medical needs of others are taken care of first. Then consider the legal, logistical, and financial impacts of the situation. For more personalized advice on your unique situation, please contact our office today. Our legal staff is ready to help.


Emergency doctor putting a cervical collar to a patient in the ambulance Emergency doctor putting a cervical collar to a patient in the ambulance

How to Handle an Out-of-State Uber or Lyft Accident - Pt 1

Friday, September 20, 2019

Taking an Uber or Lyft ride should be easy, but Car accidents are devastating no matter what state they occur in. But an accident in your own state close to home is much easier to deal with than one that occurs outside the laws and customs you're used to. Especially if you're in an unfamiliar Uber or Lift at the time of the accident.

Experiencing an accident out of state, you'll need to tread carefully both to navigate the accident aftermath and to deal with legal concerns of getting involved in the inevitable insurance battle ahead. Not to mention, of course, making sure you get full treatment for any injuries you may have suffered. If you've been involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, be sure to take care of yourself and seek help when necessary.

A Passenger in the Aftermath

As an Uber or Lyft passenger outside your home state, it can feel like your options are severely limited, but they aren't. If you are uninjured and able, it's best to take charge of your situation and handle the aftermath as sanely and effectively as possible. Or at least make sure that someone else is on that job already.

Stay At the Scene

Do not let your Uber driver leave the scene and do not call another ride until you have spoken to the police. It is necessary to stay at the scene and make a report in every state. You also need to remain in control of the situation.

Unlike a car accident without rideshare, it's important to take a few extra steps or precautions during the aftermath. 

End the Ride

Do not let your "meter run" during the aftermath of an accident. Instead of trying to cancel the ride, simply 'end' it through the app. Mark it as complete. Most likely, you will get a refund from Uber or Lyft after you report the incident. 

 

Report the Incident

In the app, leave a comment about your ride mentioning the crash. Then, through the 'Help' section, go through the correct channels to report the accident to the corporate office. You may have time to do this while you wait for the cops and paramedics to arrive.

Uber and Lyft Insurance

The Million-Dollar-Policy is not a myth. Both Uber and Lyft have insurance policies that will cover your injuries and other collateral damage if you are involved in a rideshare accident. But, like all insurance claims, you may need assistance getting the settlement you need.

 

The Usual Accident Aftermath

After two cars collide in the US, the is almost always the same. The police must be notified, injuries must be treated, and the scene must be cleaned up so that normal traffic flow can resume. This doesn't change when one car is an Uber or Lyft vehicle on the job. You are a key witness to the accident and may also need immediate medical assistance. Many people don't realize how badly they are hurt right after a car accident, and the police will want to speak to you about the events immediately leading up to the accident.

Call the Police

First, whoever is most capable should call the police. Even if you're late for something. Even if your Uber driver wants to leave the scene to finish  Give no spin or detailed story to how the accident happened, that's up for the police and insurance companies to determine on their own. Instead, focus on the severity of the crash, whether anyone is hurt, and whether traffic is being blocked. The police will arrive shortly on the scene to provide assistance.

Once the police arrive, you can ask them about any legal details you need to be concerned about as an out-of-state Minnesotan. The police should be able to give you a few out-of-state pointers.

Address Medical Needs

Next, make sure that everyone who was in the Uber or Lyft accident is looked at by a doctor. Take care of your own injuries and those of your companions and driver first. Then, if you can, investigate to see of others near the crash need help. Get yourself checked out even if you feel completely fine and uninjured. Often, car accident internal injuries may not show symptoms until a few hours or days later. Including whiplash, which is a real condition that occurs when a person's velocity changes suddenly as in a car accident.

 

Take Away

Being in an Uber or Lyft accident can be scary, especially if you're out of state. Remember to take care of yourself and your companions as your first priority. Then the police, and finally Uber or Lyft. Join us next time for the second half of this article and further aftermath tips. Contact us today for a consultation on your Uber or Lyft accident.


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.


Rideshare Accidents - When you or a Loved One Suffers an Injury

Friday, June 21, 2019

Many residents of Los Angeles prefer not to drive when they are joining friends for the evening, commuting to work, or simply running errands. In fact, a dissertation published by Anne Elizabeth Brown for her Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning (awarded) degree at University of California, Los Angeles shows that "between September and November 2016, riders made over 6.34 million Lyft trips to, from, and within Los Angeles County". That's a staggering amount of usage. But sometimes, things go tragically wrong when using a rideshare.

Accidents Resulting in Injury and Death

Those who are dependent on ridesharing are trusting their safety to others. Even though rideshare drivers are screened carefully and required to undergo background checks, this does not mean they are not going to be involved in an accident when you are a passenger in their vehicle.

Recently, there was a serious accident in San Diego involving a Lyft driver who was carrying two passengers and a second vehicle carrying a drunk driver. One of the Lyft passengers was ejected from the vehicle and died as a result of the accident while the Lyft driver and the other passenger suffered serious injuries. While this is outside of Los Angeles, the potential for this type of accident exists everywhere. Let's face it, the potential of being involved in an accident on Los Angeles roadways is great with the sheer number of vehicles on the roadways and the number of miles traveled on average. So, what happens when you're a passenger in a Lyft when an accident occurs?

Lyft Passengers Safety and Security

California takes insurance coverage seriously, even for rideshare services. When an accident does occur, the rideshare driver, as well as Lyft, the company they are contracted to can be held liable for your injuries or the loss of a loved one. Lyft is required to have $1 million in insurance coverage in the event an accident results in personal injury, property damage, or the death of a passenger. Assuming the driver has accepted you, or your loved one as a passenger, you are considered covered by this insurance.

Holding Lyft Accountable for Injuries

One of the challenges you may face as a victim of an accident involving a Lyft driver, or if you have lost a loved one in an accident involving a Lyft driver is understanding your rights and the obligations Lyft has to you and your family. You have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit, but you may not know where to turn, and you may not know your rights under California law. That is when we can help.

Contacting a Rideshare Accident Attorney

One of the most important things you can do after being involved in an accident as a passenger in a Lyft vehicle is to contact a Lyft accident attorney. This is important for numerous reasons but most importantly so you can understand what rights you have.

A rideshare accident lawyer can help you obtain the necessary accident reports, speak with insurance companies on your behalf and take other steps to preserve your rights. The right attorney can also help you if you have suffered the loss of a loved one in a Lyft accident. Contact Freeman & Freeman LLP at 818-992-2919 if you are involved in an accident while a passenger in a Lyft. We offer a free consultation to victims and their families in the greater Los Angeles area including North Hollywood, Encino, Van Nuys, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oak, and the San Fernando Valley as well as in Los Angeles.



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