There is no doubt about it: companies like Uber and Lyft make getting a ride incredibly easy. Instead of having to call a cab company and make arrangements for a pick-up, you can get a car with just a few taps on your smartphone. It isn’t surprising that Uber reports 124 million users each month – or that Lyft has 20.3 million active users.
This convenience comes with a cost, however. Rideshare drivers have minimal to no training and are independent contractors instead of employees. If you are in an Uber or Lyft accident, it can be difficult to know what your rights are. A Virginia Beach rideshare accident attorney can help you understand your legal options and work with you to get maximum compensation for your injuries.
At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we put our substantial litigation experience to work on behalf of injury victims throughout Virginia. We are fierce advocates for our clients, fighting to get them top dollar for their claims. Reach out to our law office to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Who Is Financially Responsible for Uber or Lyft Accidents?
In a typical automobile accident case, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy covers any losses. If the at-fault driver is working when the crash happens, their employer is typically liable for any injuries. However, Lyft and Uber accidents are unique because the drivers are operating their personal vehicles and are independent contractors rather than employees. This makes financial responsibility a more complicated issue.
Uber and Lyft drivers may be covered by the corporations’ commercial insurance policy, but only in certain situations. Here is how it works:
- If the driver is not currently working or using the app when the accident happens, then their personal automobile insurance policy covers the accident.
- If the driver is working but is waiting for a customer, then a smaller commercial liability policy will be applied.
- If the driver is en route to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in the vehicle, then a larger commercial policy is responsible for any damages.
The question of which insurance policy applies is an important one, because a personal car insurance policy – or the smaller commercial policy – may not be sufficient to cover your losses.
In Virginia, drivers are only required to carry a minimal amount of car insurance. For policies issued after January 1, 2022, these minimums are $30,000 for bodily injury (one person), $60,000 for bodily injury (two or more people), and $20,000 for property damage. If your losses exceed this 30/60/20 minimum coverage, then you may not be able to recover enough money to cover your losses.
For example, consider a situation where an Uber driver runs a red light and t-bones your car. You suffer a spinal cord injury in the wreck, and your car is totaled. To date, your medical bills are over $100,000 and the cost to replace your car is more than $30,000. If the Uber driver only carried the minimum required insurance – and was not working at the time of the accident – then you may not be able to recover compensation for the full extent of your losses.
Uber and Lyft also carry two different commercial insurance policies to cover drivers who are working. The smaller policy is a 50/100/25 liability policy – up to $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $100,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident. As with the personal insurance policy, more than this smaller commercial policy may be required to cover your losses.
However, if the rideshare driver was either on their way to pick up a passenger or transporting a passenger at the time of the accident, then Uber or Lyft’s $1,000,000 commercial liability policy applies. This large policy is often far bigger than what most people carry in personal insurance coverage, which increases the likelihood of getting maximum compensation for your injuries.
Uber and Lyft are massive corporations and have policies through major insurance companies. Taking on these Goliaths can be daunting. A seasoned Virginia Beach rideshare accident lawyer can advocate for you throughout the process, from filing an initial accident report to negotiating a settlement to taking the case to trial when necessary.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
After a rideshare accident, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster or a representative from Uber or Lyft. Whether you were a passenger in the rideshare vehicle, a driver or passenger in another car, or even a pedestrian, they may ask you to give a statement, sign paperwork, or even offer you a settlement, You should never talk to the adjuster or to the rideshare company without first consulting with a personal injury attorney.
Uber, Lyft, and their insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They will use every trick in the book to try to deny your claim outright or to pay as little as possible in a settlement. This is particularly true in Virginia, where the strict contributory negligence rule means that you could be barred from ANY recovery if a court determines that you were even 1% at fault for the accident.
The best way to get the money that you deserve for your losses is to work with an experienced Virginia Beach rideshare accident attorney. They will start by investigating the underlying facts of your accident to determine exactly what happened. At the same time, they will perform legal research to support your claim. Throughout the process, they will handle all communications with the insurance company so that you can focus on your well-being.
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to money for your:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatment
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced or lost earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or trauma
- Decreased quality of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
In some cases, such as a drunk driving rideshare accident, you may even be able to recover punitive damages.
Studies show that people represented by counsel recover an average of 40% more than those who represent themselves in personal injury claims. This means that it is generally a smart financial decision to hire a lawyer – particularly given that you won’t have to pay anything upfront, and will only pay a fee if you recover money through a settlement or verdict at trial.
With so much on the line, it is critical that you have a smart, experienced advocate on your side. In Virginia Beach and the surrounding areas, reach out to our law office to schedule a free initial consultation.
Hurt in an Uber or Lyft Accident? Give Our Law Firm a Call.
If you have been injured in a crash with an Uber or Lyft, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The amount of money that you receive will be based in part on which insurance policy applies to your claim. Our law firm will advocate for your right to full compensation for a rideshare accident.
At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we are dedicated to helping injury victims achieve the best possible outcome for their cases. We offer free initial consultations and never charge a fee in personal injury cases unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a Virginia Beach rideshare accident lawyer, give us a call at 757-499-1841 or fill out our online contact form.