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, and without the regulations to make sure passengers are 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? Questions like this can only be answered by the best car accident attorneys in Phoenix: The Husband and Wife Law Team.
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. The important part here is the words "independent driver." When you call for a cab, the driver is an employee of a licensed taxi 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. 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.
Both Uber and Lyft check out the driving history of all applicants, but they don’t monitor their drivers much beyond that. Both companies carry an insurance policy of $1 million, which covers the driver from the time they accept the ride request to when they drop off the rider. Despite how much rideshare companies try to hire safe drivers, accidents still happen.
- If an accident happens when the driver’s mobile app is on and they’re waiting for a ride request, only the driver's personal auto insurance is responsible. The rideshare company won't cover any damages that happen during this period.
- If an accident happens after the driver accepts a ride request, while they are on their way to pick up the rider, and while the rider is in their car, the rideshare company's contingent liability coverage will cover damages.
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
While most people 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 so drunk 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.
Passengers should do whatever they would do after getting into an accident in their own vehicle. 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 accident, 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 accident.
As soon as possible, get medical attention for your injuries, even if the injuries seem minor. A doctor will give you a full examination and ensure there are no hidden injuries, such as internal bleeding. Not only will seeking medical care get you back on the road to good health, it can also protect a future personal injury claim.
Whether you use a service like Uber or Lyft, or an actual taxi company, your driver and that company have a duty to keep you safe. If they don't live up to that duty and you're injured in an accident, it only makes sense that you file a claim to hold them responsible. To learn more about how we can help if you or someone you love has been in an accident, contact Breyer Law Offices, P.C., today. The Phoenix rideshare car accident attorneys at The Husband and Wife Law Team are ready to answer all your questions.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer