Lyft and Uber Accident Lawsuits
The Long Island Lyft and Uber accident attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye understand the new ride sharing accident liability laws inside and out. Our commercial vehicle accident lawyers guide plaintiffs through the process of filing Uber accident claims and help them pursue maximum compensation for their injuries and losses. Cases like the one below highlight the importance of rideshare insurance and understanding one’s legal rights.
On New Year’s Eve 2014, a six-year-old girl was struck and killed in a crosswalk in San Francisco. Her mother and brother were also injured in the accident. Driver Syed Muzzafar, who was working as an independent contractor for UberX, was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and a wrongful death lawsuit. Though he had been arrested for speeding at over 100 mph 10 years earlier, Uber’s background check service only looks back seven years. The tragedy led to complex questions about who assumes liability when an Uber crash occurs.
At first, Uber’s legal team argued that the driver did not have a fare at the time and was, therefore, on his own. However, the court determined that since he was logged into the Uber app and technically available to accept charges at the time, the company was liable. Uber settled with the Liu family for an undisclosed amount and increased the insurance protection for all drivers – covering them up to $100,000 in bodily injury coverage and $25,000 in property damage when they are logged into the app, and only after their personal insurance runs out.
Who is liable for a Lyft or Uber accident?
Naturally, one would presume the driver is responsible for any accident that occurs. That is a given. Yet, there may be a low limit to how much one can collect from personal insurance policies and estates. More and more, we’re seeing the courts hold the employer liable in Lyft and Uber accidents because they are responsible for conducting background checks and connecting riders with safe drivers. They are collecting a safe ride fee that is supposed to cover motor vehicle screenings and driver safety education on top of that. These rideshare companies have tried to dodge liability by saying they are not, technically, “employers” – more like facilitators, using technology to pair drivers with riders.
“Uber’s entire business model is setup to try to avoid liability in situations just like this,” legal expert Steven Clark told NBC Bay Area News. He added: “The court is going to have to decide whether this business model shields Uber cab from liability, but just calling your drivers independent contractors isn’t going to be enough.”
Recently, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that Uber and Lyft do owe a duty to passengers. Tighter regulations bring the rideshare service more in line with taxi drivers with increased vehicle inspections, tighter background checks (particularly for those certified to drive minors), mandatory proof of liability insurance, and increased transparency in revealing driver suspensions and deactivations.
Like any accident, there may be other parties involved – other drivers whose negligence or recklessness cause one’s rideshare driver to crash, for instance. The roadway design or condition may be unsafe for travel if the local municipality fails to adequately maintain the area during inclement weather, construction, or day to day use.
Uber insurance policy
On their safety page, Uber touts a “one million dollar insurance policy.” The reality is a bit more convoluted. Uber drivers and passengers are covered by a three-part insurance plan.
- If the driver is using the vehicle for personal reasons and is not logged into the app to pick up charges, he is covered by his own personal auto insurance.
- If the driver is available to pick up passengers and logged into the app but not transporting anyone at the time, the accident is first covered by his own insurance, and then covered by Uber’s insurance for an additional $50,000 per injury (up to $100,000) and up to $25,000 in property damage.
- If the driver is carrying an Uber passenger at the time, Uber’s one million dollar liability coverage applies. It will also kick in if one of their drivers is uninsured or underinsured – though this should never be necessary, with their background checks in place.
Do Uber drivers have insurance?
Uber drivers must carry the minimum state-mandated insurance coverage. However, some drivers may find that their providers cancel them if it is discovered they are offering undisclosed ridesharing services. Insurance providers like Allstate, Farmers, Geico, MetLife, Progressive and USAA offer special ridesharing insurance policies in some states. Uber drivers may also elect to buy a commercial insurance policy for maximum protection, although these policies may cost anywhere from $1,200 to $2,400 per year.
What about the Lyft insurance policy?
Like Uber, Lyft touts a “one million insurance policy,” with Lyft drivers required to carry their own insurance policies, but covered by the company’s default policy if they go above their limits or if they are logged into the app and transporting a charge at the time of the accident.
Is Uber safe?
Hard data is difficult to come by in the new, closely-guarded industry, but alarming tales have received media coverage:
- Woman Dies After Being Struck by Uber Driver in North Philadelphia (6/1/16)
- Florida Crash Victim’s Family Files Negligence Lawsuit Against Seminole County Deputy, Uber Driver (4/19/16)
- Uber Driver Shoots and Kills Six People and Wounded Two Others in Kalamazoo, Michigan (2/22/16)
- Pedestrian Struck By An Uber Driver in Connecticut Pronounced Dead at Hospital (2/22/16)
- Uber and Uber Driver Sued for Negligence After Collision Kills Passenger in Miami (1/14/16)
- Woman Dies After Being Run Over by the Rear Wheel of an Uber Vehicle in Columbus, OH (8/28/15)
- Manhattan Uber Driver Strikes and Kills Pedestrian (3/10/15)
- Uber Driver Accused of DUI, Resisting Arrest After Crashing into a Party Bus in San Diego (3/3/16)
- Uber Driver Arrested on Suspicion of DUI after New Year’s Day Crash in Los Angeles (1/4/16)
- Atlanta Uber Driver Accused of Hitting Passengers with Car (7/1/16)
In February 2016, Uber agreed to pay a $28.5 million settlement to some 25 million customers for the use of misleading language that implied they were offering a “ride safe guarantee.”
Is Lyft safe?
Similar incidents have taken place among Lyft rideshares:
- Lyft facing a wrongful death lawsuit after one of its drivers allegedly struck and killed Miami motorcyclist (11/19/15)
- Lyft’s First Fatality: Passenger Dies In Crash Near Sacramento (11/2/14)
More information on the most recent Uber and Lyft incidents can be found at http://www.whosdrivingyou.org/rideshare-incidents, a website run by the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association.
Can I file a Lyft or Uber lawsuit against the company or driver?
Plaintiffs may file a Lyft or Uber lawsuit against the driver or the company and the driver, depending on a myriad of factors, such as:
- Was the driver adequately insured?
- Was the driver logged into the app at the time?
- Did the driver have a past history of reckless driving or negligence?
What is the average Uber car accident settlement?
Uber car accident settlements are typically not disclosed to protect the privacy of the injured parties. Generally speaking, factors that influence the settlement amount include:
- The strength of evidence for injuries sustained in the rideshare accident
- The driver’s past history of accidents or conduct
- Whether the driver was speeding, intoxicated or distracted at the time of the crash
- The amount of insurance carried
- Whether appropriate background checks or vehicle maintenance was done
- If the victim played any role in causing the accident
Uber car accident lawyer
No one wants to be the next Uber car accident passenger and no one wants to find themselves having to negotiate an Uber accident settlement. Usually these cases involve exorbitant medical bills, ongoing therapy, emotional trauma like anxiety and PTSD, and in some cases the sudden death or disability of a loved one. On the surface, Rideshare companies publicly state they want to do the right thing in the event of an accident, but behind closed courtroom doors, they argue and fight against assuming any liability.
A free consultation with the Lyft and Uber car accident attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye assures plaintiffs the best opportunity for receiving just compensation for all pain, suffering and personal expense involved in a ridesharing accident.
Lyft and Uber car accident lawsuit resources
- The Verge – When an Uber driver kills someone, who is responsible http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/28/5350660/lawsuit-uber-accident-death-girl-liability-insurance
- The Verge – Uber Expands Driver Insurance Coverage After Girl’s Death http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/14/5508568/uber-expands-driver-insurance-coverage-after-girls-death
- NBC Bay Area – Uber Driver Arrested in San Francisco Crash That Killed Girl http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Uber-Driver-Arrested-in-San-Francisco-Crash-That-Killed-Girl-238491691.html
- HG.org, Legal Resources – Uber’s $1 Million Insurance Plan: What You Need to Know After an Uber Crash, https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=37714
- SF Examiner – State Approves Sweeping New Regulations For Uber and Lyft Drivers http://www.sfexaminer.com/state-approves-sweeping-new-regulations-uber-lyft-delays-rules-leased-vehicles/
- Nerdwallet – Ridesharing Insurance https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/ridesharing-insurance/
- How Does Lyft’s Liability Insurance Work? https://help.lyft.com/hc/en-us/articles/213584308-Insurance-Policy
- CNET – How Risky Is Your Ride? http://www.cnet.com/news/how-risky-is-your-uber-ride-maybe-more-than-you-think/
- Phys.org – Uber agrees to $28.5 mn settlement over safety claims http://phys.org/news/2016-02-uber-mn-settlement-safety.html