If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ve probably seen a lot of the bad press rideshare companies have been getting. First off, there are the assaults, and attacks on riders. Then you have the risky practices and poor background checking procedures. Some sources have begun compiling lists of scandals. But for most everyday folks, we don’t care so much about the overall scandals; we’re worried about our safety when we use Uber, Lyft, and other similar options. Unlike a traditional taxi, which is registered with a city and driven by an independent contractor – or sometimes an employee – rideshare apps have allowed everyday folks like us to drive around picking up other members of our community and driving them for a fee. And while this has revolutionized the taxi industry, it has come with some drawbacks. It’s important to get legal help immediately after a rideshare accident, so here are some considerations you may want to remember in case it happens to you or someone you love.
What is a Rideshare? The most popular companies are Uber and Lyft, both of which operate basically in the same manner. An ordinary driver downloads an app, uploads their personal information and insurance card, and within hours they are on the road picking up passengers. The app allows people to request rides and, depending on who is available nearby, a driver will select the ride and go pick up the passenger. These companies collect a large share of the money and drivers collect a percentage.
Are Rideshare Drivers Employees or Contractors? While this has been a source of much legal debate in recent years, as a general rule, drivers are regarded as independent contractors. This is because they are free to work for other companies, drive the vehicle of their choice, pick their hours, and dictate a lot of the independence needed to perform the job. That said, there have been challenges to this in courts around the company.
How are Rideshare drivers insured? This is pretty complicated and would require a much longer answer than is appropriate here, but again, in general, rideshare drivers carry their own auto insurance. This personal insurance covers them at all times when not operating on the clock as a rideshare driver. Once the driver turns on the clock and starts accepting rides, Uber and Lyft each have their own insurance carriers that provide a much higher limit of coverage to pay for property damages and injuries that may occur while operating as a rideshare driver. Of course, this can sometimes present a sticky situation, because there may be disputes about whether the driver was driving for personal or work reasons at the time of an accident. This is one important reason to always hire a lawyer as early as possible.
Who can be Compensated After a Rideshare Accident? The short answer is anyone or everyone. If you’re a rideshare driver and someone else causes an accident that harms you, then you can file a claim against the at-fault driver. Of course, you may also have claims you can file with the rideshare company’s insurance carrier. If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, you also may be able to seek compensation from anyone who caused the accident, whether that is someone else or your rideshare driver. Finally, if you are a driver or passenger of another vehicle on the road and a rideshare vehicle hits you, then you too may be entitled to compensation.
There are final considerations when dealing with Uber and Lyft. For instance, in border towns like Edwardsville, Belleville, and Collinsville, many rideshare drivers may be coming from St. Louis, Missouri. This means that after an accident, there may be parties from 2 different states involved. This can lead to jurisdictional issues in claims handling. You have very little time to make a decision about retaining a lawyer, so it’s important to choose someone local who knows the local rules and procedures for our court system. It’s also important to get quality medical care as soon as possible. If you or a loved one need help after a rideshare injury, don’t hesitate to call a few lawyers. At Crossroad Legal, someone is available 24/7 to take your call, or you can message us online. We offer completely free consultations, and you never pay unless we win money for you.
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