In today’s world, rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft crowd freeways and side streets with a never-ending fleet of cars. With more and more motorists choosing these transportation alternatives, the chance of one of them getting involved in an accident has risen tremendously. Drivers and motorists should be aware of their legal rights after getting into an accident. Contact our personal injury lawyer today.
What Is Ridesharing?
Ridesharing is a form of transportation where a consumer orders a vehicle, using their smartphone, to pick them up at a pre-determined location for a fee. Ridesharing became through Uber in 2010 and its competitor, Lyft. Ridesharing is a great option for users without means of transportation, enjoying intoxicating substances like alcohol, or looking for quick transportation.
Rideshare companies use privately owned vehicles and their operators to generate their fleet of vehicles. Although the applications for ridesharing are endless and are great to reduce drunk drivers on the road, their massive growth has added an expectational rise of additional riders on the road, causing massive issues for motorists.
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Rideshare Companies by the Numbers
The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business recently conducted a study detailing the increasing number of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities due to the presence of ridesharing companies:
- Roadway deaths have increased from 32,885 in 2010 to 37,400 in 2016.
- Rideshare companies have accounted for a 3% rise in overall traffic fatalities since 2010.
- The overall cost of fatalities due to ridesharing companies has resulted in approximately $10 billion in damages.
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Understanding Rideshare Company Liability After an Accident
What makes pursuing rideshare claims so difficult is the relationship the injured party has with the rideshare company and the status of the rideshare driver. It can be extraordinarily complicated for everyone involved, which makes an experienced Marion, AR Uber & Lyft accident lawyer invaluable.
Pursuing a legal claim against a rideshare company can be difficult because rideshare companies fought tooth and nail to take on the liability of their drivers. In other commercial enterprises (truck-driving, taxicab services, etc.), the employer (principal) of the driver takes on the responsibility for the employee’s (agent) actions. Only when the agent has dramatically deviated from the scope of their employment or acted criminally can the principal deny liability.
However, in most states, rideshare drivers are not considered typical employees, but independent contractors, which means many of their actions as rideshare drivers will not adhere to liability to the rideshare company. A rideshare company almost never be liable for the actions of their drivers when the driver has not activated their mobile application on their phone and is accepting rides.
Rideshare Insurance Policies
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft normally have large million-dollar insurance policies for their drivers, which means if a driver is found liable for giving a person a ride, the insurance policy will cover up to a million dollars in damages for each accident. These policies normally activate in two circumstances:
- If a driver has activated the app and is seeking rides but has not been matched with a ride, then the driver’s independent insurance carrier will be used for the damages, and the rideshare insurance policy may be used as a supplement; or
- If a driver has accepted a ride or is transporting a passenger when the injury occurred, then the rideshare company’s insurance policy will be used for the damages.
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Filing a Car Accident Claim
Although getting into an accident with a rideshare company adds an extra layer of complexity to any legal claim, addressing the accident itself is no different than any other accident. A Marion, AR Uber & Lyft fatal accident attorney will still have to conduct an investigation, review relevant documentation, negotiate with the opposing counsel, file the lawsuit, and litigate the case. However, below are some aspects to consider when getting in an accident.
At the Scene
Parties to an accident should always take safety first. From fender benders to high-speed collisions, parties should always contact emergency services for medical assistance. Once medical issues have been addressed, parties should trade contact and insurance information, notify their respective insurance companies, and never admit fault at the scene.
Note: for rideshare accidents, the other party should always ask for company documentation and any appropriate company personnel to contact.
Like many states, Arkansas has an established test to determine whether a party acted negligently. In those cases, a defendant:
- Owed the plaintiff a duty of care (similar to other reasonable drivers on the road).
- Breached that duty of care by their actions.
- Caused injury to the plaintiff.
- Prompted the plaintiff to seek damages from the defendant for their injuries.
Arkansas also adheres to the theory of “comparative negligence.” Under the comparative negligence theory, more than one party may be liable for the actions that caused an accident. Thus, a party may be at fault, but a court or jury may find the defendant was only 75% at fault for the accident, which means a plaintiff’s awarded damages will be reduced by 25% based on their negligence.
Statute of Limitations
Under Arkansas state law, typically, car accident cases have a three-year statute of limitations—meaning the plaintiff must file a claim against the defendant within three years or forfeit any claim for damages. However, certain circumstances may extend the statute of limitations. It is best to provide an Uber & Lyft accident attorney in Marion, AR all the information associated with a rideshare accident case to determine the proper place and time to file a lawsuit.
When an attorney says that a party may be entitled to damages, they mean any and all financial compensation allowed under the law. Damages take many forms, including:
- Medical expenses for surgery, rehabilitation, occupational therapy, counseling, and medication and medical devices
- Damage to property, including automobiles, real property, and certain valuables
- Consortium loss: inability of a spouse or parent to show affection in their marriage or childrearing
- Pain and suffering: a subject standard based on a plaintiff’s physical discomfort or emotional distress
- Punitive damages: only used in rare instances when a defendant acted with malice, reckless indifference, or whose conduct was intentional
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Contact an Uber & Lyft Accident Lawyer in Marion, AR Today
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a car accident with a rideshare driver from a company like Uber or Lyft, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC’s experienced rideshare accident attorneys for a free consultation today.