Uber, Lyft, and Other Ridesharing Car Accidents
Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft have changed the way we travel. While these services can provide valuable transportation alternatives, they remain largely unregulated. Uber and Lyft operate in numerous markets in Louisiana, the greater New Orleans area as well as Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Proposed regulations on the ridesharing companies failed in 2017 and 2018 in the state.
What Happens If You Are in an Accident While Riding in a Lyft or Uber Vehicle?
If you’re injured while riding as a passenger injured in a car accident, you may have multiple potential liability claims to recover compensation for your damages. You may have claims against the driver of the vehicle in which you are riding, as well as against any other drivers or parties who may be legally responsible for the collision. Since it’s unlikely that you are at fault for an accident as a passenger, the difficulty lies in determining who is responsible for paying for your injuries and medical treatment and pursuing these numerous claims. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you properly sort through your claims and recover what you deserve from all the responsible parties.
Ridesharing Insurance Claims
Most states and some cities require taxi cab companies to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage on their drivers. Passengers who are injured in taxi accidents typically fall under this insurance coverage and can recover at least some damages under these policies, although they may be inadequate for catastrophic accidents. In those cases, it may be possible to pursue claims against the taxicab companies under a theory of vicarious liability.
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as “independent contractors” rather than employees (who would be agents of the company for liability purposes). In their terms and conditions, they hold themselves out as “technology services” that merely connect potential riders with independent, private drivers. However, both companies carry insurance policies that cover their drivers when they are transporting a paying customer. Both Uber and Lyft state that their insurance policy limits are at least $1 million per accident. If a driver carries a separate, additional auto insurance policy on the vehicle, the company coverage is “stacked” onto the individual limits, enabling additional coverage.
Potential Tort Liability for Ridesharing Auto Accidents
Numerous lawsuits around the country have claimed that Uber and Lyft should be held responsible for their passengers’ safety and required to take measures like conducting thorough background checks on all their drivers. Louisiana has not yet passed any statewide regulations requiring specific actions like background checks, however, some cities and parishes have passed regulations regarding ridesharing applications. If drivers are accepted by the companies despite failing to meet minimum licensing requirements, having serious traffic violations, or facing other charges that should prevent them from accepting passengers, it may be possible to hold the companies accountable.
What Damages Can You Recover?
An experienced auto accident lawyer can help you file a claim under the applicable insurance policy or policies and seek compensation for past and future damages related to your personal injuries – and to pursue litigation for damages above and beyond policy limits. You may be able to recover:
- Expenses for medical treatment, including prospective future treatment/care.
- Loss of income due to incapacity or medical treatment.
- Lost earning capacity (temporary or permanent loss of the ability to work at the same level before you were injured).
- Other injury-related expenses, like travel to medical visits, additional child care or home help costs, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Disability (temporary or permanent limitations) you experience as a result of an accident.
- Compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering.
In Louisiana, punitive damages may also be pursued in cases where alcohol is a factor.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing or taxicab service, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorneys at the Lamothe Law Firm understand personal injury and auto accident claims in this new frontier of litigation. We’ll help you figure out the best course of action to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.