Who is Liable after an Uber or Lyft Accident in Florida?
The aftermath of a serious car accident can be confusing. When an Uber or Lyft vehicle is involved, the whole process becomes even more complex and difficult to navigate. After you have been hurt in a ridesharing accident, you don’t have to deal with the insurance companies on your own. You can – and should – hire your own attorney to represent you in settlement negotiations and any potential legal action you may take. Miami Uber accident lawyer Prosper Shaked will be able to provide guidance for any issues that arise from a rideshare vehicle’s involvement in your accident.
Car Accident Liability Basics
Every driver – including rideshare drivers – has a legal obligation to operate his or her vehicle with due care. That care equates to what a reasonably prudent driver would do in similar conditions. If a driver breaches this duty and causes an accident, he or she is legally responsible (liable) for any damages that occur as a result of the breach. This means that negligent drivers have a legal obligation to compensate injury victims for the losses, pain, and suffering the victims endure as a result of an accident. Every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry liability insurance for this very reason.
In order to determine whose negligence caused the accident, the insurance companies of all involved drivers conduct their own investigations. If a company determines that its driver was at fault, it will begin negotiating the value of each victim’s personal injury claim. Sometimes liability is very clear (such as in rear-end accidents). In other cases, the insurance companies may dispute liability and refuse to acknowledge that their driver was at fault for the accident. In cases such as these, your Miami car accident lawyer may have to file a lawsuit in order to establish liability and recover damages.
Common Examples of Driver Negligence in Florida Uber + Lyft Accidents
There are a number of bad choices a driver can make that constitute negligence. Such choices include:
With navigational aids, in-vehicle entertainment systems, and the constant presence of smartphones, it is far too easy for a driver to become distracted behind the wheel. Distracted driving accidents are responsible for thousands of injuries across the United States every year. It is important to hold distracted drivers accountable for the damage they cause. This accountability encourages safer driving habits in the future and discourages other drivers from allowing themselves to become distracted.
Distracted driving is a particular problem for rideshare drivers, as your driver will be active in the Uber or Lyft app during your ride. In most cases, the driver is able to leave the program open without his or her attention being pulled to the phone. Some drivers, however, become distracted by the app. Even worse, drivers will send texts or make calls while they are on the road. This can put your life in danger. If your rideshare driver is distracted during your ride, be sure to report him or her to the rideshare service. It could save lives.
The phrase “impaired driving” leads many people to think of drunk driving. This is due, in part, to the highly effective media campaign against drunk driving. Groups like MADD have spent millions of dollars over decades to warn Americans about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. Our laws are stronger, our teen drivers better educated, and the roads of America safer because of these campaigns.
Unfortunately, many drivers are less aware of the dangers of other types of impairment. Opioids, a kind of drug that has claimed many lives throughout the United States, can impair a driver and lead to a fatal car accident, but impaired driving laws have not yet been able to quantify a specific level of opioids that impair a person’s ability to drive. Instead, prosecutors are left to use generic “impairment” statutes and rely on expert testimony to convince the jury that this particular defendant’s level of impairment was a crime. Other medications can also lead to impairment. Here, too, prosecutors must rely on generic “impairment” language in the statutes. Even if a driver is not convicted of a crime, he or she can still be found liable in a civil court, and required to compensate injury victims. It is important to report any type of suspected impairment to a rideshare driver’s employer. Other passengers and road users are all placed in danger if an impaired driver is on the road and behind the wheel.
Failure to Control Speed
Excessive speed is a contributing factor in many fatal collisions. Drivers must adjust their speed to current conditions. If a driver fails to do so, he or she could be found negligent – even if the speed did not exceed the posted speed limit.
Red Light Violations
Red light accidents are responsible for many serious accidents here in Florida. There are different ways a person can cause a collision at an intersection besides simply running a red light or trying to beat a yellow light. A driver might make a right turn on red when there is a sign prohibiting such an action. An inexperienced driver might attempt to make a left onto a one-way street during a red light. This is a tricky maneuver, and drivers who are not experienced can cause collisions.
Uber + Lyft Insurance Policies
Fortunately for victims of ridesharing accidents, both Uber and Lyft carry substantial insurance policies, providing up to $1,000,000 in third-party liability coverage in some situations. Whether these policies apply depends upon what a rideshare driver is doing at the time of the Uber or Lyft accident, however:
- If the driver does not have the app active and is not functioning as a rideshare driver, his or her own insurance is the only coverage available
- If the driver has the app active and is waiting to connect with a passenger, both companies generally provide coverage in the amount of $50,000 in bodily injury per person, $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 in property damage if the driver’s personal insurance does not respond. However, this number seems to change regularly as Uber and Lyft adjust their insurance contracts.
- When a driver is on his or her way to pick up a passenger or providing a ride, Uber and Lyft both provide $1,000,000 in primary third-party liability coverage
As an accident victim, it’s important to understand that insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible on every claim they receive. So, while one million dollars in coverage sounds good, that doesn’t mean that Uber and Lyft’s insurance companies are happily sending out checks to victims. Insurance companies have a number of tactics they use to settle cases for as little as possible, so it’s highly advisable for you to retain an attorney to protect your rights and handle your claim.
Experienced Miami Personal Injury Attorney Prosper Shaked Represents Victims of Rideshare Accidents
Attorney Prosper Shaked is an experienced Miami personal injury lawyer who can help protect your legal right to be compensated for injuries sustained in any type of rideshare accident. Call (305) 723-9240 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.