Since New Orleans first allowed ridesharing services to operate in 2015, companies like Uber and Lyft have seen explosive growth. In fact, during the first six months of 2016, passengers took 2,342,673 Uber/Lyft trips in the city according to the New Orleans Department of Safety & Permits. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to 1.5 billion miles in Uber/Lyft rides taken worldwide in the last five years according to some estimates.
With that many cars, that many rides, and that many miles, there are inevitably going to be injury-causing automobile accidents involving Uber or Lyft drivers. If you are involved in one of those accidents while riding in an Uber/Lyft or are hit by a ridesharing vehicle, who pays for your injuries?
The Relationship Between Drivers and Ridesharing Companies
The drivers who operate under the Uber or Lyft banners are private individuals who use their own cars to pick up, transport, and drop off passengers. Both the driver and the passenger use the ridesharing company’s phone app to request and respond to requests for a ride.
For years, both Uber and Lyft have tried to shield themselves from liability for injuries and accidents their drivers cause. Both companies assert that their drivers are independent contractors and not employees and as such the companies are not responsible for the drivers’ negligence. Uber and Lyft argue that all they do is provide the app that connects drivers with riders and allows them to pay for rides.
The problem with this position, which has been attacked by regulators and lawmakers, was that injury victims would often be left trying to recover compensation from the driver, who may be underinsured or not insured at all.
Ridesharing Company Liability Insurance Requirements in New Orleans
That is why many jurisdictions, including New Orleans, mandate that ridesharing companies carry liability insurance to cover injuries to passengers, drivers or occupants of other vehicles, or pedestrians.
In New Orleans, Uber and Lyft drivers must be covered under the ridesharing company’s primary insurance policy from “app on” (the time at which a driver activates the app and is ready to pick up riders) to “app off” (when the driver is no longer accepting ride requests).
You Still Must Prove Fault
If you’re injured in an Uber/Lyft accident, you can make a claim against the driver as well as the ridesharing company. However, as in any car accident, who you can recover compensation from or whether you can obtain any compensation at all depends on your ability to prove who was at fault. Just because Uber and Lyft and their drivers carry insurance doesn’t mean their insurance companies will happily open their checkbooks if you make a claim against them.
Never forget that car insurance companies, including those which cover ridesharing companies and drivers, are in the business of making money. Every dollar they pay out on claims against their insureds is a dollar they lose in profits. That is why they will try to put the fault on the other driver or anyone and anything other than their insured, often denying liability altogether.
The insurer’s efforts to minimize their liability may also involve reaching out to an injured claimant with an offer to settle the claim. But that offer is likely to be significantly less than what the victim deserves or what they could obtain in a personal injury lawsuit. Insurers know that injury victims need the money, with medical bills and lost wages making them vulnerable to an offer of immediate cash, no matter how lowball the offer may be. They also count on claimants not knowing or understanding their rights. That’s why they want to settle quickly, before the injured person has a chance to speak with an experienced New Orleans car accident lawyer.
Louisiana Uber and Lyft Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been hurt in a New Orleans ridesharing accident, don’t allow yourself to get taken advantage of by insurance companies or put your right to recover compensation at risk. Please contact Lamothe Law Firm to arrange for a free initial consultation to discuss your ridesharing accident claim.