Convenient rideshare services have left traditional taxi companies in the dust. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have drastically changed the way many people in Waukegan and across Lake County travel. Anyone can access a ride with just a few taps on their smartphone, and they will be on their way in minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Unfortunately, if you are involved in an accident while in a rideshare, like Uber or Lyft, things can get complicated when it comes to recovering compensation for your injuries.
As with any type of car accident, passengers could possibly face serious injuries and the sizable medical expenses. There’s the cost of ambulance rides, hospital stays, doctors’ visits, surgeries, and physical rehabilitation. It can all quickly amount to an unmanageable sum. If you add the missed time from work to the financial burden of medical bills, your stress level can increase fast. It can put a lot of pressure on you and your family’s well-being.
With so many parties involved in a rideshare accident, it can be difficult to know the best path to recover compensation for your injury-related damages. Depending on the circumstances, the driver, rideshare company, or the driver of the other vehicle could be at-fault. In each one of these circumstances, the legal strategy for remediation may be different.
This is a critical reason for hiring an experienced rideshare accident injury attorney in Waukegan. Working with the attorneys at Abels & Annes can help to make sure that the liable parties are held responsible and that maximum compensation is obtained on your behalf.
Rideshare companies match customers with everyday people who are willing to drive a passenger to a predetermined destination using their own vehicle. It is important to note that it is an ongoing issue whether drivers are employees of Uber and Lyft. Rideshare companies argue they are independent contractors who use their own personal vehicles, that they are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep to their vehicles, and their pay differs from that of employees. This has been a loophole for these app companies who use the argument that “we are just a phone app” and therefore hold no responsibility. This is not an argument that’s accepted by accident attorneys.
Personal injury lawyers argue that the drivers are employees. The rideshare companies exert enough control over the drivers (by setting rules and handling fares, fees, etc.) that they are not independent contractors. This is an unresolved issue in the courts.
Rideshare drivers are required to carry their own personal vehicle insurance. However, most private insurance policies have clauses that expressly state that vehicles cannot be used for commercial purposes. As a result, Uber and Lyft carry additional insurance. How this insurance works depends upon the status of the driver at the time of an accident. There are three main statuses, or types of rideshare accidents:
- The rideshare app is off
- A driver has the app on but does not have a passenger
- The driver has the app on and either has a passenger or is heading to pick up a fare
Driver Has the App Off
If a driver has the rideshare app turned off, the vehicle use is considered personal rather than work-related. Uber and Lyft generally will have no liability. And their insurance policy will not kick in if the driver is involved in an accident.
One exception to this rule is if a rideshare is driving to pick up a regular customer and was planning to turn the app on upon arrival. If you're injured under these circumstances, your car accident attorney can help you attempt to recover compensation from the rideshare driver’s insurance company.
Driver Has the App On But Does Not Have A Passenger
If you’re hit by a rideshare driver without a passenger, the rideshare company may still be on the hook for your damages. If a driver’s app is online while he or she is waiting for a passenger to request a ride, then the rideshare company’s coverage is active. Technically, they are officially working in this circumstance.
Both Uber and Lyft have similar insurance coverage policies for these situations. This coverage includes $50,000 in injury liability per person with $100,000 total liability per accident. This means that even if 4 people are injured, $100,000 is the max coverage. Their policy also includes $25,000 in property damage coverage. A personal injury attorney can help you to recover damages and make sure that you are compensated properly.
Driver Has the App On And Has A Passenger Onboard
If the rideshare driver is transporting a customer or going to pick up a fare, the insurance coverage is $1 million when the rideshare driver is at-fault. This coverage also applies if the rideshare driver is enroute to the passenger after accepting a ride request. In these situations, Uber and Lyft’s insurance companies have the most to lose. If you’re injured while in a different vehicle, and you are hit by a rideshare driver that is on the way to a passenger or has a passenger onboard, they may be reluctant to share the details of a driver’s activity. It can be difficult to know where the rideshare driver was headed or whether the occupants were customers or the driver’s personal passengers. Your Waukegan personal injury attorney will be instrumental in investigating these details for you.
Additionally, Uber and Lyft both carry policies for situations in which the rideshare vehicle is struck by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. For example, UM/UIM coverage is currently $250,000 for Uber. This is helpful to know if you’re injured as a rideshare customer because of the negligent actions of another driver. If an uninsured or underinsured driver hits a rideshare car you’re travelling in, you and your lawyer can turn to the rideshare company’s insurance for compensation.
At the scene of the accident, document as much as you can. This includes drivers’ insurance and contact information, witness statements and contact information. Also be sure to file a police report to establish an official record of the incident.
Additionally, photos of the damage and surrounding area can help to demonstrate fault. If you are the rideshare passenger, screenshots and other records of the ride are also useful to save.
It’s critical that you receive medical treatment for injuries as soon as practicable after an accident. If you delay treatment, insurance companies will try to dismiss your injuries by using the argument “if you were really injured, you would have gone to the doctor immediately.”
There are many flaws in this argument. For example, shock can mask injuries. Nonetheless, their ‘delayed treatment’ argument is often effective in denying or defending insurance claims. Immediate treatment will also show that you took measures to prevent your injuries from getting worse and will ensure that your injuries are documented in medical records.
Finally, do not speak to any insurance company without the advice of a lawyer. And it is further recommended that you let your lawyer handle all communications with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. Insurance companies can be manipulative and try to unfairly limit their payout for your injuries and damages. For this reason, you should level the playing field by hiring a Waukegan car accident attorney to represent your best interests.
The insurance companies for the rideshare company will want to settle for as little as possible. That is why it is important to speak to a rideshare accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will consider several types of compensation when valuing your claim.
Damages from a rideshare accident include:
- Economic damages, such as past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
- Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Your attorney can help to secure the compensation you need for your expenses and losses, as well as any future damages you’ll suffer because of your injuries.
If you were involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, the Waukegan rideshare accident attorneys at Abels & Annes can help. Our attorneys have many years of experience in motor vehicle accident cases, including those involving rideshares like Uber and Lyft. We will work tirelessly to get you the maximum compensation you need to recover from your injuries. The initial consultation is always free, and you won’t pay a fee unless your case is successful. Call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.
Abels & Annes, P.C. (Waukegan Office)
404 W Water St Suite 100
Waukegan, IL 60085