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What Should You Do After a Rideshare Accident?

March 25, 2020

With the advent of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft comes the considerable legal question: In the event of an accident, who is liable for any resulting injuries or legal claims? The answer to these questions isn’t always clear, and if you’ve been involved in an accident with a ridesharing vehicle in California, you may wish to call a Los Angeles accident lawyer who can help you navigate this complex situation. Your attorney will help you understand whether the rideshare company provides insurance, when your claim may not be covered, and what to do to move forward and ensure you’re covered for your economic and non-economic losses. 

Understanding Ridesharing

As the state of origin for some of the largest ridesharing companies working today, California was the first state to legalize ridesharing, otherwise known as transportation network companies. Having officially entered the mainstream as one of the most useful modes of public transportation in otherwise congested cities, ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have completely revolutionized how people get around. A rideshare occurs when a passenger travels in a private driver’s personal vehicle for a one-time ride they purchased through the ridesharing app. The driver charges the rider through the app, and the rideshare company keeps a percentage of the profits. 

In order to operate as a rideshare driver, TNCs will generally require a background check and proof that your driver’s license is up to date. Drivers are not, however, required to have a taxi driver’s license.

What’s the Difference Between a Taxi Driver and a Rideshare Driver?

Taxis are usually owned, inspected and maintained by a taxi company and leased by a driver. The driver pays the company a certain amount per month to operate the vehicle, in exchange for keeping the profits from his service. A city or county usually has strict regulations on taxis and drivers, and a taxi driver is required to have a specific type of driver’s license. 

The way you might hail a taxi is also quite different from a rideshare app, as taxis generally roam the street making themselves available to passengers who may need a ride. There are certain locations, like airports, hotels, and train stations, where taxi drivers are queuing and awaiting new passengers. Cash used to be the accepted mode of payment with taxis, but recently most have installed credit card machines in an effort to better serve their customers.

Rideshares work quite differently. When someone needs a ride, they would open their app and mark their current location, which allows the app’s algorithm to locate a driver nearby. You would additionally enter other specifics, such as how many people are in your party, and where you are planning to go. Before your ride begins, the app advises how much you can expect to pay for the ride, and advises if the roads are particularly busy and causing prices to ‘surge.’ Your credit card is also kept on file within the app, so you are billed directly each time you complete a ride. After the ride, the app will prompt both you and the driver to leave a review about the experience.

Whether you’re riding in a taxi, a rideshare or your own vehicle, there are certainly the same types of risks involved on the road. While rideshare and taxi drivers are certainly held to higher standards, accidents can still occur. If you’ve been involved in a car accident while taking a rideshare, a Los Angeles accident lawyer can illuminate your next steps.

Understanding the Types of Rideshare Car Accidents

There are four main categories of ridesharing accidents, and the type of accident you’re involved in will very much determine your ability to recover damages for your losses. These accidents include:

  • Scenario 1: A passenger was injured in a ridesharing vehicle during a ride
  • Scenario 2: The rideshare driver was injured while picking up, driving, or dropping off passengers
  • Scenario 3: A driver of another vehicle was injured in an accident with a vehicle performing ridesharing services
  • Scenario 4: Passengers were injured in a crash with a rideshare vehicle as the rideshare driver was on its way to pick up a passenger 

In the last scenario, it’s important to note that drivers can be held liable for negligence if they were engaging with the ridesharing app instead of paying attention to the road. Given what we know about ridesharing apps and how they operate, would a driver be held liable for an accident, or would the ridesharing company have to foot the bill?

When are Drivers (Instead of the Company) Liable?

Rideshare drivers are classified as independent contractors, which means they work under a contract and not as an employee of the company. They are required to maintain their vehicles themselves, and are generally not covered under an employer’s worker’s compensation program. Under this framework, the driver would be responsible for their own general liability insurance coverage; however, the state of California requires rideshare companies to provide additional insurance for drivers. There are a variety of different policies and coverage available, depending on the severity of the accident. 

As such, if it’s shown that a driver was wholly responsible for causing an accident, it’s likely the rideshare company that will ultimately cover the driver’s liability through their insurance policy if the damages are extensive.

What Steps Should You Take After a Rideshare Accident?

If you are a passenger involved in a rideshare accident, then your actionable steps should mirror those you would take after a normal car accident. After calling emergency services and ensuring your health is intact, call law enforcement immediately so they can begin gathering evidence around the facts of the accident. The rideshare company will have a record of your driver’s pertinent information and the location where the accident occurred. You will also need to ensure that you’ve gathered the driver’s insurance information, because that will be the first option for the driver when attempting to settle any claims. Also make sure you obtain their full name, license number, and license plate number for your records.

Hire a Los Angeles Accident Lawyer Today

Bear in mind that settling these claims will likely be much more complicated than your standard accident because they involve so many different parties. As such, you will likely want to consider hiring an attorney who can expertly guide you through the complexity of these claims.

© 2020 Banafshe Law Firm, PC.