Phoenix Rideshare Car Accident Attorneys
Ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have become commonplace. These transportation network companies use smartphone apps to connect drivers already on the road with people looking for a ride. You open the app, drop a pin on your location, and a nearby driver responds, picking you up and taking you where you need to go. These ridesharing services are really just taxi services with a technological twist. But unlike regular taxi companies, Uber and Lyft aren’t subject to employee regulations that help keep passengers safe.
In a city with a lot of traffic like Phoenix, more and more people are using these apps to get to where they’re going. But rideshare drivers aren't trained or licensed to carry passengers, so What happens when they get into accidents? Who is liable?
If you were a passenger, driver, or pedestrian who was injured in an accident caused by a rideshare driver, contact The Husband & Wife Law Team, the best car accident attorneys in Phoenix, by calling (602) 457-6222 for a FREE consultation.
To understand the risks associated with ridesharing, you should know the difference between them and traditional taxi services.
Someone who needs a ride uses the Uber or Lyft mobile app and contacts an independent driver who is nearby. The driver picks the person up and takes them to their destination. After the person gets dropped off, drivers log the trip into the app. The fare is handled completely through the app, with the driver usually getting 80% of the fare.
When you call for a regular taxicab, the driver is an employee of a licensed company that's fully insured in case of an accident. Rideshare companies hire drivers on an independent-contractor basis. Drivers are responsible for providing the car and use their own personal auto insurance coverage while waiting for a ride request through the app.
By working this way, Uber and Lyft are able to keep overhead costs low and be successful. Unfortunately, this system leaves passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians sharing the road with these rideshare drivers in a tough spot if there's an accident.
Taxi drivers are known for driving aggressively on Phoenix’s roads. They want to get where they’re going quickly so they can turn over more fares and make more profits. Taxi drivers can also be overconfident. They drive every day for a living, so they believe they can react to any situation safely – but this isn’t always the case.
People expect a professional service when they enter a cab, whether it is their preferred method of transportation on a daily basis, or they’ve just had a few too many cocktails one evening and they need a ride home. In a taxi collision, passengers are not in control of the vehicle and have no control over taxi driver. Even the loudest and most boisterous passengers are unlikely to be found negligent in causing an accident. If they’re making it difficult for a driver to focus on the road, the driver retains the right to pull over and ask them to get out of the cab.
Instead, liability will fall either on the taxi driver or another driver. In the event of a collision, either of these drivers’ insurance companies would be responsible for providing accident benefits to anyone injured during the crash. In Arizona, all taxis are required to carry insurance policies of at least $300,000. This must include personal liability, property damage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Therefore, seeking accident benefits as a taxi passenger is similar to seeking benefits from an at-fault driver’s insurance in a car-on-car wreck. Even if a third-party driver didn’t have insurance, injured passengers should still be able to go through the insurance of the taxi company. But rideshare accidents are a bit trickier.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a rideshare driver in Phoenix, your personal injury attorney will investigate the accident to determine negligence and get you the best possible settlement to cover the cost of your medical care. The type of compensation available depends on the driver’s status under the rideshare app at the time of the accident.
- If you were the driver of another vehicle, a passenger, or a pedestrian who was struck by a rideshare driver who did not have the rideshare app turned in, Arizona laws still requires drivers to maintain at least $250,000 in liability coverage.
- If an accident occurs when the driver is awaiting notification for a new passenger on the app, Uber or Lyft liability is only $50,000 per person and $100,000 per incident. In these cases, your attorney could seek damages from the rideshare service as well as the driver’s personal insurance policy.
- If an accident happens after the driver accepts a ride request, while they are on their way to pick up the rider, or while the rider is in their car, the rideshare company's contingent liability coverage will cover damages up to $1 million.
If you're in an accident with a rideshare vehicle that is driving a client, you're eligible to get financial compensation from the rideshare company's commercial insurance. If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle and you are in an accident, you are eligible to receive compensation from the commercial policy as well.
If you're involved in accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, you can get financial compensation for your damages. It’s the same with a taxi driver. Victims of accidents can get paid for the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses (present and future)
- Physical therapy expenses
- Property damage
- Loss of income
- Loss of future earning capacity in case of a disability
- Pain and suffering and emotional trauma
Unlike regular taxicab drivers, Uber and Lyft driver are independent contractors, not employees. Although both major rideshare companies require a basic background check for their drivers that includes a review of their driving record, there is no special training required to work for a rideshare company.
When a company hires an employee, they are subject to the company’s Human Resources guidelines and policies in terms of how they act while on the job. Businesses provide regular training to their employees about issues like discrimination and sexual harassment to maintain a safe and productive work environment. By designating their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, Uber and Lyft avoid the type of safety and training obligations they would need to fulfill if their drivers were regular employees.
Another major difference between rideshare drivers and drivers working for a traditional taxi company is that Uber and Lyft drivers are not directly monitored by their employers. At a regular taxi company, a supervisor sees their drivers at the beginning and end of each shift, making it easier to tell if the drivers are in the right frame of mind to be operating a motor vehicle. There is no supervisor around to monitor Uber and Lyft drivers and check to see if they are fatigued from working more than on job, or if they are working under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
People may think the riskiest thing about getting into an Uber or Lyft is the possibility of a crash, but there are other physical risks. You are, after all, getting into a stranger’s vehicle. There is often a false sense of safety with ridesharing vehicles. Several news stories over the years have shown just how dangerous this can be.
In 2018, a woman in San Diego called for an Uber after becoming intoxicated. She was drunk, so she had asked the driver to stop so she could vomit. She passed out momentarily and awoke to the driver attempting to rape her. She escaped and called 911. The police found videos on the driver’s phone of his rape attempt on her, along with the abuse and rape of a number of other women and young teenagers. According to CNN, it was one of 103 cases of sexual assault or abuse by Uber drivers from the years 2014 to 2018.
Unfortunately, it’s not only passengers who have something to fear in an Uber or Lyft. In 2015, a female Uber driver was driving two intoxicated male passengers to a hotel from a bar. When dropping them off, both men attempted to sexually assault her and even told her she’d be going back to the hotel with them. She was able to escape, but suffered severe injuries to her ribs, neck, shoulder, and teeth.
Sadly, these are just a few of the stories that have made news surrounding the physical dangers of Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies. Anyone who is physically assaulted in a rideshare vehicle has options for holding these parties liable. Not only can you press criminal charges, you can also file a personal injury claim for your injuries, including emotional distress.
After any type of automobile accident, it’s essential to take certain steps to protect your health and record what happened. This means calling the police out to the scene. They can then file a police report, which can be helpful in the future if you want to make a claim for injuries you sustained during the accident. In addition, you should write down as much as you can remember about the wreck, as insurance companies will want to hear from injured passengers, as well. Also, take pictures of the scene, showing any property damage, skid marks, and anything else that could be used as evidence as to how the accident occurred.
It’s also important to remain at the scene and to collect information from all parties. This means writing down all names, contact information, and insurance information of any driver involved in the collision.
Get medical attention for your injuries, even if they seem minor. A doctor will give you a full examination and ensure there are no hidden injuries, such as internal bleeding. You will also want to save your records of all medical expenses incurred as a result of the crash.
Passengers, pedestrians, and anyone who is injured while driving in a vehicle struck by a rideshare driver will want to speak with an experienced Phoenix rideshare accident attorney as soon as possible. When it comes to getting a fair settlement, there are complex legal issues involved, and it isn’t easy going up against large corporations like Uber and Lyft. The Husband & Wife Law Team is up to the task. Call (602) 457-6222 for your FREE consultation today.
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