Filing a Lawsuit After an Uber or Lyft Car Accident?

Posted on June 28, 2023 in Car Accidents

Ridesharing provides an important convenience for people who can’t get around on their own, but unfortunately, it also comes with the added risk of accidents. More cars and more drivers hustling to get to the next destination could amount to more crashes. Reach out to a Uber or Lyft car accident lawyer.

If a rideshare accident hurt you, you could recover compensation from the at-fault party. Find out what you need to know about filing a lawsuit after an Uber or Lyft car accident below.

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Will I Have to File a Lawsuit to Recover Compensation After a Rideshare Accident?

Filing a Lawsuit After an Uber or Lyft Car Accident?Just like with any other car accident, you can recover compensation for your losses and injuries. Generally, that means either filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for the crash. A lawsuit does not have to be the only recourse for you to recover compensation. In fact, in many car accident cases, a lawsuit is the backup plan.

Claim Vs. Lawsuit

Filing an insurance claim involves dealing solely and directly with the person/company responsible for the accident and their insurer. The insurance company representing them is the final decision-maker on whether your claim is approved and you receive compensation.

On the other hand, filing a lawsuit requires you to make a civil complaint in court to get the money you deserve. A judge or jury will ultimately decide if you should receive compensation for your injuries.

When to File an Uber or Lyft Car Accident Lawsuit

Most car accident cases start off as injury claims and move into a lawsuit if negotiations with the insurance company do not progress as you had hoped. Other times, if the driver who caused the accident does not have insurance, you may have to file a lawsuit to recover damages from them. Be aware that they may not have the means to pay up.

Filing a lawsuit after an Uber or Lyft accident may or may not be an option, depending on the circumstances of your case, namely who is at fault for the crash. Your rideshare accident attorney can advise you on whether a lawsuit is a viable option in your case.

Who Bears Liability for My Uber or Lyft Car Accident Damages?

The liable party in an Uber or Lyft car accident depends on who caused or contributed to the crash. Sometimes this is the Uber or Lyft driver. In other instances, it is a third party.

Potentially liable parties in a rideshare accident include:

  • Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing companies. In certain cases, you may hold the rideshare company for your damages. One scenario is if their driver caused the crash and was covered under an insurance policy that the transportation network company (TNC) provided. Another is if the rideshare company was directly responsible for the crash through negligence.
  • The rideshare driver. The Uber or Lyft driver may have to pay your damages if they caused the crash. The driver may have their own insurance policy that covers the accident. If not, they may be personally liable to pay out-of-pocket.
  • A third-party vehicle driver. The rideshare driver is not always at fault for a crash involving a rideshare vehicle. Sometimes, a third-party driver is to blame. If another driver was distracted, followed too closely, or ran a red light, for instance, that driver would be liable for your damages in the event you suffered injuries. That means you may have to file a claim against that driver or their insurer to recover financial compensation.
  • The car manufacturing company. The car company may be liable for the accident if there was a defect with the vehicle that contributed to the Uber or Lyft crash.
  • Tire company. Defective tires play a role in more car accidents than you may know. For example, tread separation is a common tire issue that causes car crashes.
  • Local government. It’s possible that the municipal government in charge of maintaining roads, traffic lights, signs, and some construction work zones could have contributed to the ridesharing car accident.

Can I Sue Uber or Lyft for My Rideshare Crash?

In most states, you cannot sue Uber or Lyft for a car accident unless the TNC is directly responsible for causing the accident. Generally, this means the company was negligent in some way, and its negligence led to the accident. Only certain situations will fit that bill.

You may sue the rideshare company for:

General Negligence

TNCs like Uber and Lyft have a duty to ensure the safety of their passengers. They must ensure their drivers’ cars receive inspection and meet certain standards. If the company didn’t ensure the vehicles used to transport passengers were up to standard, the TNC may be responsible for the crash.

Negligent Hiring

Uber and Lyft must perform background checks on each driver and review their driving record and criminal history. A failure to do so would constitute hiring negligence. For example, if it turns out that an Uber driver has caused an accident and has a history of DUIs that the company overlooked, Uber would be responsible for the crash, and you could sue.

Negligent Retention

A driver may have been hired justly but, over time, began to exhibit signs that they were no longer fit to drive for a rideshare company. Perhaps since they started driving for the TNC, they began having multiple car accidents. Alternatively, passengers could have started leaving complaints about the driver’s conduct when operating a vehicle, indicating they drove unsafely.

Uber and Lyft perform annual driver checks and maintain that they run background checks regularly to check for offenses. If the TNC was aware of the driver’s conduct (or should have been aware of the driver’s conduct) and failed to remove them from the roster, you could file a lawsuit against the rideshare company for negligent retention if that driver caused a crash.

Why You May Not File a Lawsuit Against Uber or Lyft for a Car Accident

Employers generally have a responsibility to cover any damages their employees cause while on duty through vicarious liability. However, rideshare drivers are not employees. They are independent contractors. Since drivers are not legally considered employees, transportation network companies are not responsible for their actions the way they might otherwise be.

The end result is that you cannot sue Uber or Lyft for the actions of one of their drivers. You can, however, file a claim against the rideshare driver’s insurance policy, which Uber and Lyft may or may not provide.

How Car Insurance Works in Rideshare Accidents

At this point, most states have laws in place that require Uber and Lyft drivers to carry liability insurance in case of accidents, but coverage is only active at set periods of time. If the rideshare driver caused your car accident, Uber or Lyft insurance may cover your damages only if their policy was active at the time of the crash. Here’s how insurance works for ridesharing drivers:

When Drivers Are Not on Duty

While rideshare drivers are on the road but are not logged into a ridesharing app, drivers must carry their own insurance policy to cover any accidents they cause. This is your typical auto insurance. Since drivers are not using the Uber or Lyft app at the time, they are not on duty.

When Drivers Are Logged on to the App and Waiting for Ride Requests

Drivers logged on to the ridesharing platform and waiting for users to request a ride are officially on duty.

During this time, Uber and Lyft provide liability insurance in the amount of:

  • $50,000 for bodily injury for one person
  • $100,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

When Drivers Are Carrying Passengers or En Route to Pick Passengers Up

Drivers that are picking up or transporting riders have the highest liability coverage.

Uber and Lyft both provide:

  • $1,000,000 in third-party liability insurance coverage for injury and property damage for the entire accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection as mandated by the state in which the driver works
  • First-party coverage such as Med Pay or PIP as required by the state in which the driver is operating

Recoverable Damages in an Uber or Lyft Car Accident Lawsuit or Injury Claim

Victims of rideshare car accidents can seek compensation for their economic and non-economic damages in most states. Economic damages are money awarded to cover financial losses you have experienced due to the crash.

Non-economic damages cover non-financial losses. They are things that you cannot easily quantify and have no intrinsic monetary value. Your loss of  mobility due to a shoulder injury and the emotional trauma of the crash are just two examples of non-economic damages.

Your Uber or Lyft accident lawyer can tell you the specific damages you deserve, but in general, you could recover compensation for:

  • Present and future medical bills
  • Lost income and work benefits
  • Diminished earning ability
  • Personal property damage
  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Transportation costs or travel accommodations related to or resulting from your injury or accident
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Serious bodily injury
  • Emotional distress (depression, anxiety, insomnia, grief, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.)
  • Wrongful death damages if you lost a loved one from their related injuries

Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit After a Rideshare Car Accident

Each state has a statute of limitations for injury lawsuits. The majority of them provide victims two or three years from the date of the accident or the date the injuries are discovered. It’s important to know the exact date your statute of limitations starts to avoid missing the legal deadline. If you miss the deadline, you run the risk of losing the right to recover compensation for your injuries under the law.

After the statute of limitations expires, the liable party no longer has a legal obligation to pay your damages. A judge may throw out your case if you attempt to file after the fact. There are exceptions to the statute of limitations in every state, but you may need to speak with an attorney to find out what they are and whether they apply to your Uber or Lyft accident case.

A Lawyer Can Assist You with An Uber or Lyft Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit

Hire a rideshare accident lawyer to recover compensation for your injuries and losses. Rideshare accident injury claims can be difficult to navigate on your own, and liability can be complex to sort out. Without knowing the proper party to pursue, you won’t seek all the damages you deserve.

The legalities of an injury claim increase when you file a Uber or Lyft car accident lawsuit. Many injury victims prefer to have a personal injury lawyer representing their interests to insurance companies. If you retain their services, they can manage communications with the rideshare company, their insurer, and the other parties involved in your accident.

Moreover, they have the resources to investigate the accident, pull evidence from various sources, and see your case through a trial if a lawsuit is necessary.

Many Injury Lawyers Don’t Take Payment Upfront for Your Rideshare Accident Case

Robert W. Boatman, Rideshare Accident Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ 

Do not go through a complicated Uber or Lyft car crash case alone. Rideshare accident lawyers typically don’t charge you for their service unless they win your case, so find an attorney and initiate your claim without financial risk or delay. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.