What Are Your Rights After a Rideshare Accident?
Oct. 20, 2022
Since the start, rideshare services Uber and Lyft have made it convenient to get a ride when you need one. Using an app on your phone, you simply enter your destination, and the Uber or Lyft app will display the costs, different drivers/vehicles available, and the wait time. This is perfect for going places where parking is costly and tight when you don't feel like driving or perhaps have no designated driver available.
The challenge is that the app contains terms and conditions that limit the rideshare company’s liability. If you’re injured riding in an Uber, or Lyft or struck by a driver of a rideshare vehicle, the parent company will argue that the driver was an independent contractor and not an employee; therefore, they are not liable. Also, the terms and conditions you agree to by using the app force you to accept arbitration rather than file a lawsuit against the rideshare company.
This does not leave the independently contracting driver completely to pay for injured passengers or injuries to other vehicles’ drivers or passengers. Both companies provide various levels of supporting insurance depending on the status of the driver at the time of the accident – off duty, waiting for passengers, picking up passengers, or actually transporting the passengers.
In other words, filing a claim for an injury you sustained while a passenger in a rideshare vehicle or caused by a rideshare driver striking your vehicle can be complicated and confusing. If you’re injured riding in or hit by a rideshare vehicle in or around Odessa, Texas, contact the personal injury attorney at The Law Office of Steve Brannan. We have experience in helping resolve rideshare-based claims and fighting for fair compensation due you.
The Law Office of Steve Brannan also proudly serves clients in Midland, Big Spring, Pecos, Andrews, and throughout the communities of West Texas.
Determining Your Rights and the Issue of Liability
You can suffer injuries as a passenger in a rideshare vehicle or as the driver or passenger in another vehicle struck by a rideshare driver. If you are riding in a rideshare vehicle, the liability for the injuries you sustained could rest with the driver of the vehicle you’re in or with the driver of the other vehicle, whoever is at fault.
If the driver of the rideshare vehicle is at fault for the accident and injuries, that person is the liable party. You can try making a claim against the driver’s personal insurance, but once a person uses their vehicle for commercial purposes, their auto insurance suspends coverage. On the other hand, if the other driver is at fault, you can certainly file a claim against their insurance.
If your driver is at fault, your logical course of action is to file a claim through Uber or Lyft. Both of these companies’ apps have features where you can report the basics of the accident, but you will need the guidance and help of an experienced car accident/personal injury attorney to carry your claim forward.
Since 2016, Texas has required both Uber and Lyft to carry liability insurance to back up claims against their drivers. Both companies now have similar policies for providing this insurance. The availability and amount of insurance offered hinges on the operational status of the driver when the accident/injuries occur:
DRIVER HAS THE RIDESHARE APP TURNED OFF: The driver and their insurance are completely responsible for any injuries or property damage.
APP IS ON, AND DRIVER IS WAITING FOR A RIDE REQUEST: The rideshare company offers third-party liability insurance of $50,000 for bodily injuries to one person, $100,000 for injuries to all involved, and $25,000 for property damage.
EN ROUTE TO PICK UP RIDERS OR DURING A TRIP: $1 million in third-party liability insurance, plus uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury and/or first-party injury insurance.
If your vehicle is struck by an Uber or Lyft driver, and your vehicle sustains property damage, or you or a passenger suffer injuries, you can make a claim against that driver’s insurance if they are at fault. If the driver at the time was engaged in rideshare activities – even waiting for or on the way to pick up a passenger – then the above company-provided liability insurance may be your only source of recovery.
Can You Sue Uber or Lyft?
As mentioned earlier, the terms and conditions you agree to by using these companies’ rideshare apps require you to waive your right to a lawsuit and force you into arbitration.
In Texas, when injured parties press claims or lawsuits against Uber or Lyft, the companies will argue that their drivers are all independent contractors, and thus the parent company is not responsible. They often prevail in the Lone Star State with this argument, so you need to have an experienced legal representative going to bat for you to counter their arguments.
This brings up the interesting situation of a passenger being injured who is not the one who used the app to request the ride but is with someone who did. If you, a non-ride-requesting passenger, decide to sue, you should not be bound by the terms and conditions stated on the app.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
If you’re injured as a passenger in a rideshare accident or suffer injuries because of the fault of a rideshare driver who runs into your vehicle, you should follow the same procedures you would after any vehicular accident – with one big addition, that of reporting the event to Uber or Lyft.
Call 911 to seek medical aid and report the accident to law enforcement, who may choose to come to the scene and investigate. You, of course, will need to obtain all necessary insurance and contact information from the drivers of both vehicles.
If there are witnesses, try to get their statements and contact information. Use your phone to take pictures of the scene – injuries, property damage, and the road to show its condition or any roadside traffic signs that were ignored. As soon as you can, write down the specifics of everything that happened. Have solid documentation for pressing your claim.
Most important, seek the counsel and guidance of an experienced rideshare accident attorney and let that person handle all claims going forward. You can rest assured that Uber and Lyft will have a battery of attorneys ready to challenge your claim. You need an attorney on your side as well.
Look to Comprehensive Legal Support
As you can see, additional layers of complications are inherent in a claim arising from a rideshare incident. Do not face these challenges alone.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a rideshare-related accident anywhere in West Texas, reach out immediately to The Law Office of Steve Brannan. We will press your claim with all the resources, experience, and knowledge accumulated over three decades of helping injured individuals seek the just compensation they deserve. Our team proudly serves clients in Odessa, Midland, Big Spring, Pecos, Andrews, and throughout the communities of West Texas.