Miami Rideshare (Uber, Lyft) Accidents Attorneys
As rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber have gained popularity in recent years, they’ve often made headlines for all the wrong reasons, including lack of driver oversight, violent incidents, and vehicle crashes.
If you’ve suffered an injury because of the actions of an Uber or Lyft driver, it’s important to work with an attorney that understands the many legal issues related to ridesharing services. You may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and other financial costs. However, fighting Uber on your own can be difficult.
What do you need to know about working with rideshare accident attorneys?
Rideshare Drivers Receive Limited Oversight
Uber, Lyft and other rideshare companies say they perform background checks on applicants, who then use their own vehicles and the company’s app to pick up passengers. For every ride, the rideshare company receives a portion of the fare.
Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber typically provide little or no training to drivers, and Uber in particular has developed a reputation for distancing itself from drivers who have caused accidents or become violent toward passengers.
Insurance May not Cover You
Insurance coverage has been a point of contention from critics of Uber and other rideshare services. The companies themselves provide some coverage and stipulate that drivers must have car insurance — as required in most states.
However, accident victims have learned the hard way that rideshare coverage sometimes falls short.
Some private vehicle insurers will not cover accidents that occur when the car is in use for a commercial purpose. Following some accidents, insurers have refused to pay benefits when drivers were on call.
Insurance issues related to rideshare services continue to be worked out in the courts. Your attorney can explain how the latest legal developments may affect your specific case.
Is the Increase in Accidents related to Uber drivers?
A team composed of three researchers from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, John Barrios, Yael Hochber and Livia Hanyi Yi, released details from a draft paper they wrote. The goal of this paper is to show the direct correlation between the increase of traffic accidents and fatalities and the introduction of Uber and Lyft.
Their research shows that in 2010, shortly before Uber and Lyft came into play, the total number of traffic fatalities was at the lowest it’s been since 1949 (only 32,885 nationwide). Along with the convenience of a ridesharing app came an increase of 2-3% in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities.
The team looked into Uber and Lyft’s services in every city in the United States with a population of at least 10,000. They then took data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and noted the change in number of collisions before versus after Uber and Lyft was introduced into that specific city. They noted that fatal traffic collisions quickly increased following Uber and Lyft being implemented.
Both Uber and Lyft have already spoken out and severely pushed back on these findings, claiming they are ‘deeply flawed’ and stating they take their safety very seriously.
The paper is in the preliminary stages of publication, but once released the public will be able to decide for themselves the validity of their research findings.
Safety has always been a concern amongst passengers using these ride sharing apps. There are no drive time limitations for these drivers, so they are able do so all day and evening if they would like. Most drivers also have day jobs and choose to drive in the evening/late night for extra money creating the potential concern of sleep deprived drivers.
Uber drivers Independent Contractors
The ultimate question is whether the drivers are in fact, “their” drivers (employees) or independent contractors. If they are employees, then the ride sharing programs could be held vicariously liable for accidents caused by the operators. Alternatively, if they are independent contractors, then there would be no liability for said negligence. Uber has stated they want their drivers to be independent contractors.
Florida uses a “right of control” test to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Florida courts have adopted a number of criteria to aid in making this determination.
Right of Control Factors
- The extent of the right of control by the employer over the details of the work;
- Whether the person employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business;
- The kind of occupation involved, and whether the work is done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision;
- The skill required in the particular occupation;
- Whether the employer supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place of work;
- The length of time the person is employed, and
- Whether the work is a part of the regular business of the employer.
Looking at the factors – What do you think?
The National Relations Board recently decided Uber drivers are independent contractors. Thus, the companies cannot be held vicariously liable (responsible) for the drivers negligence. However, the story might not end there. The companies could still be responsible for their active negligence. For example, the companies work off a cell phone platform the drivers receive pick up instructions on their phone, and communicate with whomever they are picking up by phone. A jury can conclude that this constitutes a negligent mode of operation.
Passengers May Encounter Problems
Passengers in rideshare vehicles should be covered by the company’s insurance policies in the event of an accident. However, Uber has denied liability for accidents caused by its drivers because they contend that the drivers are independent contractors rather than employees. We disagree!
If you’re in an accident as an Uber passenger and your driver is under the influence of alcohol, distracted — including by the Uber app — or simply reckless, you are entitled to compensation from Uber. An experienced Uber accident attorney can assist you in pursuing a liability claim against Uber or another rideshare company.
Proving Negligence Is Necessary After an Accident
If you’re in an accident caused by a rideshare driver, your first line of action is filing a claim with the insurance company of the driver and the rideshare company. If the insurers reject your claims, you may have to file a lawsuit to receive compensation.
The court will require that you prove who was at fault in the accident and demonstrate how — and to what extent — you suffered injuries as a result.
To succeed, you’ll need to prove that the rideshare driver was negligent in some way, and that the company was negligent. As previously noted the company can be held liable for the acts of their drivers or by the nature of their platform that requires drivers to use their phones while driving. This is the very definition of distracted driving. In addition, by working with a rideshare accident attorney, you can present evidence that the selection process and training for the driver was insufficient and that the company was negligent in allowing the driver to operate.
How Can a Rideshare Accident Attorney Help You?
Lyft, Uber and other rideshare companies offer a valuable service to consumers: a convenient, quick and cost-effective mode of transportation. But as these companies rapidly expand, are they taking enough care to ensure that passengers, other motorists on the roads, pedestrians and cyclists are protected?
Over the past few years, legal actions against rideshare companies have raised important questions, including:
- Are drivers adequately screened?
- Do they need more training?
- Is insurance coverage sufficient?
- Should companies implement safeguards against drivers who are impaired, distracted or violent?
- Is the platform that requires drivers to use their phones for navigation and accepting fares safe?
If you’ve been injured by the actions of a rideshare driver — either as a passenger, as a cyclist or pedestrian, or in your own vehicle — it’s important to seek help from an attorney experienced in issues related to these services. Insurance claims can be complex and involve multiple parties, and proving negligence by the driver or the company is essential to winning a claim. In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement with the driver, the insurers or the rideshare company.
The attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, can assist you if you have been injured in a rideshare accident. We work closely with you to understand all the details of the accident and to help you receive the compensation to which you’re entitled. For a personal consultation, please contact us.