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San Diego Uber, Lyft, and Rideshare Accident Lawyers

Rideshares are all the rage in San Diego and beyond, with passengers viewing this mode of transportation as a safe and relatively inexpensive way to get around town. However, for many passengers, the rideshare experience has been anything but safe. Furthermore, the additional insurance considerations of a rideshare accident often confuse those wishing to pursue compensation for the injuries they suffered.

If you were hurt in a rideshare accident in San Diego, the experienced Uber and Lyft lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you understand the legal process and help you seek compensation. Call a San Diego Based injury attorney today to see how we can help you.

Who Is Responsible for Providing the Driver’s Insurance?

Uber and Lyft both require drivers who wish to contract with them to produce proof of current personal automobile insurance and to keep copies of their insurance cards. In addition, both companies carry an insurance policy of up to a million dollars for their riders. However, how much of that policy is available in the event of an accident depends on when the accident takes place.

Both companies offer tiered insurance that essentially goes like this:

  • If the driver does not have his or her app turned on and the car is being used for personal reasons, the driver’s personal insurance will come into play in the accident, but Uber’s will not.
  • If the driver has his or her app on and is waiting for a ride, there is limited liability and bodily injury insurance provided.
  • If the driver is either en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in the car, then the insurance coverage is up to $1 million for injuries and property damage caused by the accident.

What Other Risks Involve Ridesharing?

In addition to the potential of being involved in a motor vehicle accident or a physical assault taking place, in one recent year more than 3,000 sexual assaults took place involving Uber drivers and their passengers. Other risks to rideshare drivers and passengers include:

For Passengers

  • Driver impersonation. Riders should always be sure that the car and the individual who pick them up match the photo and description on the app. In 2019, a University of South Carolina student was murdered by someone who pretended to be her Uber driver.
  • Less stringent background checks, when compared to the background check required for taxi cab drivers.
  • Low-rated drivers. The passenger/driver rating system is in place to ensure that people don’t get rides with difficult or dangerous drivers and drivers aren’t matched with difficult or dangerous passengers. However, it takes a while for the rating system to do its work through consistently low ratings.

For Drivers

  • Unpredictable passengers, particularly at night when many Uber passengers are intoxicated and may be aggressive.
  • The insurance gap. If you are in an accident while you have your app on but you don’t have a passenger in the car, your personal insurance likely won’t cover you as your car was being used for commercial purposes. However, Uber’s coverage is liability only and limited in this tier. You run the risk of having no coverage for your own injuries and property damage at times. One way to prevent this is by purchasing a rideshare policy from your insurance provider or having a rideshare endorsement on your policy.

Do Ridesharing Companies Have Any Liability if Something Goes Wrong?

Uber and Lyft attempt to shield themselves from much of the legal responsibility for incidents occurring between riders and passengers simply in the way that they word their agreement with drivers. Uber stated multiple times in a deposition that they have “zero” drivers. Instead, Uber contends that the drivers who apply for affiliation with the company are third-party transportation providers, driver-partners, or independent contractors. This not only reduces the liability that these companies have for accidents caused by drivers, but also helps the company avoid costly items such as minimum wage for workers and benefits.

Some states are seeking to change the way rideshare companies classify drivers. California’s AB5 went into effect but was immediately met with legal battles. The law not only targets the rideshare industry, but also other gig economy jobs such as freelance writing. Uber and Lyft have both joined the effort to either overturn the law or get an exception to its requirements. A proposed federal law would also target the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. New York State is also looking at ways to change the way rideshare companies classify their drivers.

If, either through lawmakers or courts, Uber and Lyft are determined to be employers for their drivers, it will likely lead to added liability when accidents and incidents occur involving drivers and their passengers.

Besides Uber or Lyft, the potentially liable parties in car accidents involving rideshares include:

  • The Uber or Lyft driver, if his or her negligence contributed to the accident.
  • The driver of another vehicle, if that driver caused the accident with your rideshare vehicle.
  • The entity responsible for maintaining the street, if the accident was a result of a poorly maintained roadway or an obstacle that obscured vision at the intersection.
  • The manufacturer or distributor of vehicle parts if it is discovered that a defective auto part led to the crash.

For a party to be liable for the accident that caused your injuries, you must be able to demonstrate that:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty owed to you depends on the party’s role in the accident. For example, an at-fault driver’s duty of care would be to obey traffic laws and drive safely.
  • There was a breach in that duty of care.
  • The breach in the duty of care resulted in an accident, which caused you to become injured.

What Is Ridesharing?

In 2008, two men were visiting Paris. They wanted to go out, but couldn’t find a cab. It was this experience that led, a few years later, to the advent of Uber, the first rideshare service of its kind. Before long, Uber was catching on. People were taking rides regularly and the service was expanded from San Francisco to various cities throughout the nation and the world.

Ten years later, more than 600 cities had Uber drivers available and ready to pick up passengers. As with all intriguing ideas, Uber soon faced competition in the form of Lyft, who operated with essentially the same concept. While other rideshare companies have come and gone since then, Uber and Lyft hold the bulk of the market share for this type of service, though Lyft focuses only on ridesharing in North America, while Uber’s efforts are global.

Both Uber and Lyft provide different services within their overall business model, including larger cars for larger groups, luxury cars, and less expensive programs for riders who don’t mind sharing their rideshare with another passenger who is traveling to the same area. Passengers using either Uber or Lyft can schedule their rides in advance, can rate their drivers (and drivers can rate them, as well), and can share their location with family and friends who are concerned about whether they get home safe.

Around 36 percent of the U.S. population has now utilized a ridesharing service. Around 95 million people use Uber’s services each month worldwide, while Lyft has a monthly ridership of around 32 million in North America. About a quarter of the people in the U.S. use ridesharing services at least once a month, often when they are going to or coming home from dinner or a party. Passengers are most often drawn to the rideshare app because of the convenience it provides.

The concept is simple, and it involves a smartphone app on which people can order and pay for one-way trips from individuals who are accepted by the rideshare company as independent contractor drivers. These drivers, who are required to meet certain criteria set by the company, accept the passenger on the same app and are provided with details about where the passenger needs to be picked up and dropped off. Payment for the ride is handled through the app so that no money needs to be exchanged between the driver and the passenger.

Despite the simple concept, concerns have risen along with the popularity of ridesharing. Read on for more information about those concerns.

How Many Accidents Have Involved an Uber or Lyft Vehicle?

A rideshare passenger in San Diego was killed and three other people were injured after a suspected drunk driver rear-ended a Lyft car in the early morning hours. The accident occurred on State Route 163, near the Uptown area. A 21-year-old woman driving a Lexus struck the rear end of a Mazda sedan. The accident caused both vehicles to drift off the freeway and into a ditch. A backseat passenger in the Mazda—which was the Lyft vehicle—was seated on the left side of the vehicle and wearing a seat belt. He died at the scene and emergency workers had to remove part of the vehicle’s roof to get him out of the car.

Another backseat Lyft passenger was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. He suffered major injuries. The 27-year-old Lyft driver was wearing his seat belt and suffered moderate injuries. The driver of the Lexus suffered major injuries in the crash. All of the injured individuals were transported to the hospital.

Accidents like this are unfortunately far too common.

Both Uber and Lyft have been resistant to releasing data to the public that would shed light on exactly how many accidents their drivers are involved in each year. That said, Uber did release a safety report for its U.S. rideshare operations that provided the following information:

  • In one recent year, 97 fatal accidents involved Uber drivers, resulting in 107 fatalities.
  • The Uber-related motor vehicle fatality rate in the U.S. during those years was 0.59 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2017 and 0.57 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2018.
  • 90 percent of Uber-related fatal crashes occurred in urban areas.
  • 21 percent of the fatalities were the Uber drivers, 21 percent were Uber passengers, and the rest were third parties.
  • Eight of the drivers and passengers who were killed were struck by another vehicle while outside of the Uber vehicle. In reporting statistics, these fatalities would be considered pedestrians, not vehicle occupants.
  • 30 percent of the fatal Uber crashes involved a pedestrian. A quarter of those were the Uber driver or passenger.
  • Bicyclists were fatally injured in less than 2 percent of the fatal Uber-related crashes.

Uber also shared some statistics on fatal physical assaults that occurred during Uber rides:

  • There were 19 deceased parties as a result of fatal Uber-related physical assaults. Of those, 8 were riders, 7 were drivers, and 4 were third parties.
  • A fatal physical assault occurred in one out of every 122 million trips.

Uber logged 1.3 billion rides in one year.

A study from Rice University and the University of Chicago revealed that there is an uptick in fatal accidents in cities where rideshares operate. This increase coincides with an increase in vehicle miles traveled, which is likely due—in part—to “deadheading”. Deadheading is a term used for drivers who have dropped off a passenger and are driving around waiting for their next ride. The increase in fatal accidents is estimated at 2-3 percent. However, Uber and Lyft dispute the study’s findings.

Reach out to Our Rideshare Accident Lawyers Now

If you were injured in a rideshare accident, you deserve to have the legal information and guidance that you need to recover the compensation to pay for your recovery. Gomez Trial Attorneys is consistently ranked among the top law firms in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and we have obtained more than $500 million for our clients over the past 20 years.

Contact the experienced rideshare lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys online or at (619) 237-3490 today for a free consultation.

 

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