Ridesharing: Convenience or An Accident Waiting to Happen?

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What is Ridesharing?

Ridesharing claims multiple definitions. According to Dictionary.com, ridesharing is, “the sharing of rides or transportation or relating to a car service with which a person uses a smartphone app to arrange a ride in a usually privately owned vehicle.” However, according to Ridester.com, ridesharing is, “any means of transportation in which multiple people use the same vehicle to arrive a similar destinations.” Either way you look at it, ridesharing has become an increasingly popular way of travel, and it can be done at the tip of your fingers through the use of a smartphone.

Lyft and Uber Accidents: When Lawsuits Become Necessary

In May of 2017, a woman by the name of Jimena Martinez sued Uber for damages, including pain and suffering. Why? According to the El Paso County District Court case of Martinez v. Uber Technologies, Martinez’s Uber driver caused an accident by completely disregarding a red light while she was a passenger in the car.

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The lawsuit lists factors exhibiting driver and Uber liabilities. Most significantly, it names Uber for requiring drivers to utilize smartphones on their dashboard which contributes to distracted driving. Why is this relevant? Well, ridesharing services are becoming increasingly more popular as the years go by and major ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are not always well regulated. Regulations are left to local and state governments. With that being said, it is important to consider your rights as a passenger of a ridesharing service in the event that you are involved in an accident.

Two major competitors in the ridesharing service market in the United States are Uber and Lyft. However, metropolitan cities have smaller ridesharing services available. This may be a trend of convenience, but at what cost to you as a passenger?

Who is Liable if My Uber or Lyft Driver is in an Accident?

What should you do if you are injured in an accident while using a rideshare service?

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Who is liable in this situation? According to Avvo Stories, make sure that the driver reported the accident to the authorities and the respective company. If the accident is not reported, even if it is minor, you cannot receive compensation.

There are potentially three insurance carriers involved, including 1) the ridesharing driver’s personal insurance, 2) the ridesharing company’s insurance, and 3) the other driver’s insurance policy. The next action you should take is deciding whether or not the accident is the result of the driver or the company’s policies. As a passenger, make sure you get a copy of the police report, as well as both drivers’ contact and insurance information.

Avvo Stories also says that ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft have taken specific precautions in the event of an accident to protect themselves. This makes it harder for people to file a legal claim against the company. Most ridesharing drivers are independent contractors, not employees of the company. Most ridesharing companies carry specific insurance policies that cover up to a million dollars in compensation for accidents caused by their drivers. From the time the ride is purchased until the end of the ride, this insurance coverage is activated.

Ridesharing Passenger Safety is a Priority

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According to these ridesharing companies, the safety of everyone involved including the driver and passenger, is important. Vehicle crashes are not the only ways that passengers can be harmed through a ridesharing service. There are several cases of assault and physical violence. According to CNN, in April of 2018, 103 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assault or abuse. Uber provides a few helpful tips on their website to ensure the safest ride possible.

  1. Plan ahead and be aware of your destination location. There are safety features for riders available in the app.
  2. Request ride and wait in a safe location, preferably indoors.
  3. Get in the right car. Double check license plate, driver photo and name match the information on the app.
  4. Ride in the backseat if you are riding alone, allowing you the opportunity to safely exit on either side of the vehicle.
  5. Wear your seatbelt!
  6. Share your trip details with someone you trust. The Uber app has a “Share Status” feature which will allow you to instantly share your ride details.
  7. Don’t give out any of your personal information to your driver.
  8. Follow your gut. If you feel unsafe or if in an emergency situation, call 911 immediately.
  9. Be kind and respectful to your driver and his or her vehicle.
  10. Give feedback on your trip because it provides ridesharing companies with information to help improve rider experience.

There are many other helpful actions you can take to avoid being put in a dangerous situation with a ridesharing service including reading the driver’s reviews and riding with friends.

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Tips for the Ridesharing Drivers to Avoid Accidents

Uber shares safety tips and recommendations for their drivers to help avoid accidents or other dangerous situations. Passengers should also be aware of these tips to ensure the driver is following all safety precautions:

  1. Drivers should remain focused on driving and the road ahead of them.
  2. Watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. It is important to watch out for people walking and biking at all times, especially when you are dropping off and picking up passengers.
  3. Keep the drop-offs legal by dropping riders off in the correct zones or in safe locations.
  4. Encourage your passengers to ride in the backseat especially if they are riding solo. It makes for easier pick up and drop off.
  5. Make sure you and your passengers are buckled up for the entire duration of the ride.
  6. Be respectful to your passengers at all times.
  7. Finally, give feedback on your riders. Drivers are not the only ones that could be dangerous or cause a potentially dangerous situation, so reviews are helpful.

Filing a Legal Claim in a Ridesharing Uber Car Accident

Given the complexity of insurance coverage, ridesharing accidents need the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer who handles lyft and uber accidents for ridesharing clients. In the event that you or someone you know is injured in a ridesharing accident or incident, attorney Darryl Isaacs — The Hammer — and the entire team at Isaacs and Isaacs will review your case and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.

Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Law Firm is dedicated to protecting you from another’s negligence or wrongful act or for the safety and health of others. Our lawyers in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio have 275 collective years of legal experience and know the specifics of handling uber car accidents. Call 800-800-8888 for a free case review.