Miami Personal Injury Lawyers Representing the Rights of Individuals Hurt in Ride Sharing Accidents
Uber, Lyft, and other companies that offer ride-sharing services have caused a revolution in the personal transportation industry. There are quite a few app-based ride-sharing services that let riders use their smartphones to order up a ride. They tap an icon, enter some information, and a car comes to get them. While Uber remains the largest ride-share company in the U.S., Lyft is not far behind, and there are many others, such as Curb, Wingz, and Via, that offer essentially the same service. Many of the smaller services are not as widespread as Uber and Lyft, but people in any metropolitan area have multiple options to choose from when it comes to ordering a ride-share car.
Ride-share services offer advantages in cost and convenience. Ride-share services are widely available, even in smaller cities and semi-rural areas. They are often less expensive than taxis and go places that rail, buses, and other means of public transportation don’t go. And in places where there is no rail, bus, or other public transportation options, you often can find a ride-sharing service. The services are popular. Roughly 20 percent of people in the U.S. have reported using a ride-sharing service. Many of them live in urban areas, but ride-sharing services are widely available, and many people use them at least occasionally.
Are Ride-Sharing Services Safe?
Are you more or less likely to be involved in a car accident when you take a trip in a ride-sharing vehicle? The driver is a professional – you’re paying for the ride, after all, and the driver is being paid – but that doesn’t mean the driver is a better driver than you. The driver likely has no specialized training or ability. Ride-share services check the driving records of the people they hire, so that provides some reassurance. You can be reasonably confident your driver doesn’t have a bad driving record. The same is true for cab drivers. So are ride-share services safer than taxis?
The truth is, there seems to be no way of knowing. No federal, state, or even local agency keeps statistics on ride-share accidents. A major newspaper in Chicago attempted to find information on injuries and deaths incurred using ride-share services, and couldn’t. While it seems likely the ride-share companies keep such statistics, they don’t release them. As the Chicago paper found out, it appears that no government agency collects such statistics. Unlike taxis, ride-share drivers aren’t registered with any government agency, making them almost impossible to track. When the police arrive at an accident scene, there is nothing to tell them that a driver works for a ride-share service, or is on duty at that moment. As a result, statistics on ride-share services’ involvement in accidents appear to be non-existent, at least in the public sphere.
Major Ride-Share Services Insure Their Drivers While on Duty
Even if you can’t get information on ride-share service accidents – including information on deaths and injuries – you can be confident that you aren’t giving up your right to compensation if you are injured in a ride-share accident. Uber and Lyft provide liability insurance of up to $1 million when the driver’s app is active and the driver is carrying a passenger. The ride-share services also cover their drivers with another $1 million in liability insurance in the event of accidents with at-fault uninsured drivers. Uber and Lyft offer this coverage, which covers injuries caused by their drivers in all 50 states. Curb, which actually gives riders an app-based method of hailing a taxi rather than a pure ride-share service, provides insurance as required by local regulations for taxis. Wingz has a deal with an insurance company to insure its drivers, but the insurance is not available everywhere Wingz operates, nor does Wingz actually purchase the insurance. Via, which only operates in a few cities and offers only multiple-passenger rides, requires its drivers to carry liability insurance that varies in coverage depending upon local regulations.
For the major ride-share services, Lyft and Uber, the liability coverage is pretty good, although not necessarily sufficient in all accident scenarios. Smaller services generally require less insurance for their drivers and do not themselves provide that coverage. All of these coverage situations leave open the possibility that the insurance available, either from the ride-share service or the driver, will not be sufficient to cover your injuries should you be hurt in an accident while you are taking a ride-share trip.
Ride-share Accident Injuries Are No Different from Other Traffic Accident Injuries
Ride-share services might be really convenient and less expensive than many other public-transportation options, but the injuries you can suffer in an accident while taking a ride-share trip are the same as in any other traffic accident. Those injuries common in traffic accidents include:
- Brain and head injuries, which can be among the most severe traffic injuries, involving expensive and ongoing treatment, as severe brain injuries can involve lifelong care.
- Neck injuries, which can be minor or result in paralysis and require life-long care.
- Spinal cord injuries, which can result in paralysis or other loss of function, causing lifelong disabilities.
- Back injuries can be severely debilitating over a long period of time, requiring long-term, expensive treatment.
Major ride-sharing companies provide their drivers with generous liability coverage, while smaller ride-share companies require their drivers to buy liability insurance. Passengers can file claims against these policies if they are injured in a ride-share accident, but if they suffer severe injuries, the coverage might be insufficient. However, Uber and Lyft contend that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees, leaving the ride-share companies with no liability for their drivers’ actions. That leaves the driver’s insurance coverage as the only path of recovery for injured passengers. Court decisions have backed this position, potentially limiting your ability to successfully file suit against a ride-share company in an effort to recover damages exceeding the scope of the insurance provided or required by the ride-sharing service.
If You Have Been Injured in an Accident Caused by a Ride-Sharing Driver, Contact a Miami Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been hurt in a ride-sharing accident in the Miami area, you should speak to an accident lawyer as soon as you can. You may be able to recover compensation for your accident-related losses, including your medical bills and lost quality of life. To schedule a free consultation with a lawyer, call Flagler Personal Injury Group today at (305) 424-8445 or contact us online.