The ease, cost and reliability of ridesharing has turned top companies like Uber and Lyft into household names.
Using a ridesharing application, you can open up your smartphone and have a vehicle dispatched directly to your location with a few simple swipes of the finger.
More and more consumers are entering the ridesharing market. In fact, Uber recently reported that the company has now given more than one billion rides.
Of course, with that many trips being taken, serious accidents become inevitable. Recently, The Chicago Tribune reported that three women from the city were killed in a heartbreaking Uber accident that occurred while the group was visiting Milwaukee.
Incidents like this one have added to questions about the safety of ridesharing. Many cities have enacted local ridesharing regulations to reduce the risks.
For example, to protect the safety of passengers, the Chicago Ridesharing Substitute Ordinance requires extensive backgrounds checks and the fingerprinting of ridesharing drivers.
Many questions also arise concerning liability for Uber and Lyft auto accidents. The unique nature of these ridesharing services can create some complex legal issues.
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, you need to know your rights and responsibilities.
Ridesharing accident liability is especially complicated because of the interconnected web of insurance policies and local regulations.
However, these insurance policies fail to cover every situation. For those involved in a Chicago rideshare accident, these exclusions can create major confusion.
In some cases, the companies may deny that they have any responsibility for an accident at all. This is primarily because ridesharing drivers typically use their own personal automobiles.
In other words, an Uber driver typically uses the same vehicle to pick up passengers as the driver uses to go get groceries.
Ultimately, those involved in a serious ridesharing accident need to be able to understand which insurance policies will bear liability for the damages.
Determining this requires an examination of the exact circumstances of the accident. For example, Uber’s accident policy will depend on which of the three “stages” an Uber driver is in at the moment of the accident.
An Uber driver is considered to be “off the clock” when the “driver app” is not turned on. At this time, a driver would not have any passengers nor would the driver be waiting for any passengers. A driver on the road while the app is turned off is not considered to be working for Uber. Thus, the driver’s personal liability insurance would bear responsibility for covering the damages caused in an accident.
The second stage of driving for Uber can be more confusing. During this time, a driver’s app will be “on.” However, the driver will not yet have any passengers in the car. The driver also will not yet have any passengers assigned to him or her. Instead, the driver will simply be waiting for the next call to go pick someone up. During this time, Uber’s $100,000 contingent liability policy may cover the damages in an accident.
Finally, when a driver is going to pick up a specifically assigned Uber passenger, or when the driver has a passenger already within the vehicle, the driver is considered to be in stage three. In other words, the car is now a commercial vehicle. If an accident occurs during this time, Uber’s $1 million commercial insurance policy will apply.
Here are four essential steps you should take if you are involved in an Uber or Lyft crash:
If you were injured in an accident, you need to seek immediate medical attention. This is true even if you feel like your injuries are not that bad. Often, car accident injuries are far worse than they initially seem. Many common car accident injuries such as concussions, back injuries and soft tissue damage come with a delayed onset.
Additionally, seeing a doctor is also necessary for legal reasons. If you are going to file a personal injury claim in the future, you will need official medical documentation that proves your injuries. Without this documentation, you will not be able to move forward with your claim.
Car accidents must be reported to the local police department. In Illinois, this is primarily the legal responsibility of the drivers involved in the accident. Still, as a ridesharing passenger, you have an interest in making sure the police are contacted. You should give a statement in the official police report so that you can set the record straight regarding the facts of the crash.
After things settle down, your ridesharing accident should be promptly reported to the responsible company. Both Uber and Lyft have accident claim forms available on their website or through the apps themselves. Please report your accident as soon as possible. If you fail to do so, it may impair your ability to bring an injury claim. If you have any trouble getting the company to accept your accident report, please call a lawyer immediately.
Finally, as with any serious accident, you should always consult with an experienced Chicago auto accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash.
This is even more important in serious ridesharing accident cases because these claims include complex insurance situations.
Remember: Insurance companies are rarely willing to offer you full and fair compensation. As an Uber car accident passenger, your legal rights and financial interests must be protected.
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our compassionate car accident lawyers have extensive experience handling Illinois car accident claims, including ridesharing accident claims.
If you have been injured in accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, please contact our office today to set up your free case evaluation. Our firm has an office in Chicago and in Waukegan and we serve communities throughout the region.