Rideshare services in Wilmington, NC, like Lyft and Uber, have changed the face of transportation in a very short time. These services solve a lot of problems for people who couldn’t otherwise afford on-demand transportation that is available at a moment’s notice. Because of the fast growth of these companies, it has been difficult for lawmakers to apply much-needed regulatory legislation to the operations of ridesharing. Furthermore, as they act to apply more regulations to these services, the laws governing rideshare-related accidents can change frequently. Regulatory safety standards, such as limiting the number of hours a driver can work in a row or within a 24-hour period, don’t yet exist, which puts everyone on the roads in danger.
Drivers of Uber and Lyft are independent contractors who transport riders, much like taxis. However, taxis are regulated by certain laws and operate under detailed standards. Conversely, rideshare drivers are not put through standard training, nor do they have any type of certification, and the vehicles are not tested or inspected on a regular basis or at all. Rideshare drivers do undergo background checks, but these don’t typically paint a full picture of an individual’s driving record or accident history. This contributes to the roughly 100 fatal car accidents that occur each year involving rideshare vehicles.
Uber and Lyft drivers gave about 7.4 billion rides in 2022 in the U.S., a number that has steadily increased by about 20% each year. With so many rideshare trips occurring, the chances of these cars being involved in accidents are high. While there aren’t many regulatory laws that preside over these accidents, a vetted rideshare accident attorney can interpret existing laws in the interest of their client when necessary.
Christina Rivenbark & Associates has experience with ridesharing accidents and has represented many Uber and Lyft riders. We have also represented drivers and passengers who were hit by a rideshare driver as personal injury attorneys. A seasoned rideshare attorney from Christina Rivenbark & Associates can advise those involved in these accidents on the optimal strategy for winning their unique rideshare accident case.
A rideshare attorney who is up to date on current laws and regulations can provide victims of ridesharing accidents with the most current advice regarding their rideshare accident case. Because there are few laws to refer to, these cases are easily dismissed in court, especially when they go up against a high-profile legal team representing large companies.
The truth is that both Lyft and Uber provide insurance coverage for riders, as well as nonriders, involved in accidents with ridesharing vehicles. To negotiate a top-paying settlement, it is essential to have a reputable personal injury attorney by your side. Furthermore, North Carolina does not allow anyone involved in an accident to receive partial-fault compensation. This means that, if you are found to be a little at fault, you are not entitled to a settlement. However, an experienced rideshare attorney can be an advantage in many of these cases.
It is also important to consider that an insurance adjuster assigned to a rideshare accident case is likely one of the better adjusters the company has. These people are trained to do one job: minimize the payments for victims’ claims. Knowing that their first offer is the lowest offer that they hope they can get away with is one key to optimizing a settlement. If the insurance company cannot avoid paying a claim, they are going to minimize all injury payments.
This is where an aggressive rideshare lawyer who is an experienced negotiator can be helpful in your case. Furthermore, many rideshare and injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that their fee is contingent on the settlement. Therefore, they are going to go after the most money possible from the insurance company, as both they and their client will benefit.
Many individuals who go into these types of claims cases without legal representation find that, between the minimal regulation from state law and the confusion in the fine print across the insurance coverages, it’s just too much for them to deal with. They realize they should have called an attorney before it got to that point. However, it’s never too late to hire an attorney to step in and take over, filling in the gaps and working on your behalf with the insurance and rideshare companies to deliver the information and the damages you need to recover your life before your rideshare accident.
To preliminarily regulate the rideshare industry, a bill was passed in North Carolina that states that service begins when a driver accepts a request for a ride from a potential passenger via the online, enabled rideshare company app platform. This is important to insurance coverage because coverage changes based on the point at which an accident occurs, whether it was while the driver:
For example, the insurance coverage for a Lyft driver at each of the previously listed phases of a ride is broken down below.
The issue of insurance coverage often comes up in these accidents. Before victims and their attorneys can act, they must determine which type of auto insurance coverage applied at the time of the coverage. Thus, it is necessary to determine if the driver was on or off duty at the time of the accident, which will have to be confirmed through the rideshare company. The police report will likely indicate the driver’s personal insurance information, but you can’t go by this information.
North Carolina auto insurance policies explicitly state that liability coverage for the individual does not apply when:
The rideshare company’s liability insurance does apply, though, if the driver is logged into the rideshare app. The process can get complicated and convoluted quickly when trying to determine insurance liability. This is when an attorney can really benefit victims of rideshare accidents, as they can collect the necessary information to answer the essential questions and move the case forward.
It can be difficult enough to determine if the driver’s personal insurance or the rideshare company’s insurance applies to an accident involving rideshare vehicles. However, you must then determine and prove liability as well. If someone is injured in a rideshare accident, establishing liability is a crucial first step. A personal injury attorney can assist in collecting evidence to prove driver error and determine who is responsible, or liable, for the damage caused by the accident. This evidence can come from multiple sources, such as:
They can also use any other evidence that can explain what factors contributed to the collision.
Technically, rideshare drivers for companies like Lyft and Uber are not employees but rather independent contractors. Therefore, as a business entity, the rideshare company is free of legal liability for the errors of the drivers. However, these companies still provide insurance to protect their customers, the passengers.
For a victim of a rideshare accident to hold the rideshare company responsible and liable for a collision, they must prove the driver’s liability and prove that the driver’s independent negligence was the cause of the accident. While this is possible with the help of an experienced rideshare attorney, it’s very rare that these cases result in large settlements due to the power these companies hold in avoiding liability.
They also often use the legal claim that, because they do not provide company vehicles, they don’t hold liability. This is why a well-versed lawyer who thoroughly understands the relevant laws can be an advantageous tool in getting the rideshare companies to admit fault. They know that they have an obligation to their customers to protect them in the event they are injured while using their services, so it’s just a matter of proving they are, in fact, liable. If they are at fault, it may seem like a difficult task to actually prove it, but it’s not impossible with the right attorney.
It is important to know some common causes of rideshare crashes so that riders and other drivers can recognize negligence on the part of Uber or Lyft drivers. Many of these careless behaviors occur before the rider is picked up, as the driver tries to arrive faster and ultimately complete more rides. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of rideshare accidents because the nature of the job requires the use of a mobile device. Other common reasons why rideshare drivers get into accidents include:
Here are some other common causes of rideshare accidents:
The statute of limitations for a rideshare crash is three years. This means that the victims of rideshare accidents have three years to file a claim to receive compensation for their losses. Filing after three years following the date of the accident can result in a dismissed case, and you will not be able to pursue the opportunity to recover damages.
You can file a personal injury claim against a rideshare driver if you believe that they were at fault for an accident in which you suffered damages or injuries. The party you can pursue compensation from will depend on whether they were logged onto the rideshare app. That will determine if you file with their personal insurance carrier or with the insurance of the rideshare company.
It may not be necessary to file a formal claim against an insurance company, and of those that are filed, many don’t typically go to trial. If a formal claim is not filed through the courts, once the insurance company receives a demand package that details the medical bills, income loss, and additional accident-related costs related to the claim, it is usually settled within six to 14 months.
State law requires insurance claims to be paid within 30 days after the insurance company receives them. If the insurance company requests further information from the claimant, the claim must be paid within 30 days of receiving the information. The claimant has 90 days to submit the requested information. If the information is not received within 90 days, the insurer can deny the claim and close the case.
If you were in an accident involving an at-fault rideshare driver, whether they were on duty or not, and you suffered injuries and damages, you should consult an attorney to discuss your case. Christina Rivenbark & Associates is a qualified and caring law firm ready to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and represent you in your rideshare accident case. Contact Christina Rivenbark & Associates today to schedule a consultation.