Uber & Lyft Accident Attorneys in Fairfax
Rideshare Accidents in Virginia & Washington, D.C.
More and more people are opting not to drive their own vehicles, or they have chosen not to purchase a car altogether due to the explosive growth of car-sharing and ridesharing services—convenient and affordable alternatives for getting around town. In fact, these services have become so popular here in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. that there are many avid users of Zipcar and Car2go (car-sharing services that are alternatives to standard rental cars), as well as Uber and Lyft (ridesharing services that are alternatives to taxis).
Like any other motorist, Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing drivers are not immune to accidents. When a collision occurs, passengers are susceptible to severe injuries. However, litigating these types of personal injury cases tends to be more complex than standard car accident claims, making it crucial to have an experienced Uber accident attorney on your side. If you were injured in an Uber, Lyft, or other type of ridesharing accident in the state of Virginia or in D.C., our firm can help.
Call Shevlin Smith at (703) 721-4233 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a Fairfax rideshare accident lawyer at our firm today.
Can You Sue Uber for an Accident?
Ridesharing services are a newer alternative to traditional taxis. Although they operate in a similar manner to taxis, Uber and Lyft rides are more flexible and convenient due to their on-demand smartphone apps. For example, a person can pull up the Uber app on his smartphone and request a ride and (generally within seconds) have a driver accept the request and provide him with an ETA.
Although Uber and Lyft are perceived by the public to be faster, more convenient, cheaper, and safer than taxis, accidents still happen. When they do, it is important that people involved in crashes with ridesharing vehicles understand their coverages. A common question we hear is, "Can I sue my Uber driver?"
The legal options following a rideshare accident aren't as cut and dry as a typical car accident claim. Uber and Lyft do not have a pool of company cars; rather they work with independent contractors who drive their own personal vehicles. Because of this, the insurance coverage surrounding car accidents can be confusing.
Is Uber/Lyft Liable for Your Accident?
Uber and Lyfts do not work like taxis. Drivers are not considered employees of the company but are more like independent contractors. Uber and Lyft are considered software companies that allow people to obtain rides from drivers who also utilize the app. Both of these companies, however, still have accountability for the drivers who use their apps by providing insurance coverage. The level of coverage, however, is still dependent on circumstances.
If an Uber or Lyft driver was at fault for the accident you were involved in, liability will depend on the stage of the drive. If the driver had accepted the ride request and was actively en route to their passenger or the passenger was in the car at the time, these companies extend coverage toward the crash. If the driver was waiting for a ride request, Uber and Lyft extend minimal coverage, however.
Understanding Accident Liability Insurance Coverage
Ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, provide each of their drivers with a one-million-dollar liability policy in the event of an accident. This means that the driver and his or her passenger(s) may be covered for their injuries and losses; however, the coverage depends on what the driver is doing at the time of the collision.
This is because Uber and Lyft have a three-part insurance plan, which is as follows:
- Not driving for Uber or Lyft at the time of the accident: Rideshare drivers who are not available to pick up passengers have their driver mode turned off. If a pedestrian or car accident occurs during this time, the driver would need to contact his personal auto insurance for coverage. This means that if someone else was injured by the driver, that person would need to pursue a claim with the driver’s personal auto insurance and not with the ridesharing company.
- In service but had not picked up a passenger at the time of the accident: This means that a driver was waiting for a ride request to transport passengers when the collision occurred. In this situation, both Lyft and Uber have contingent liability coverage in the event the driver’s personal insurance doesn’t provide coverage or doesn’t provide enough coverage. For example, Lyft’s contingent liability coverage is $50,000 per person or $100,000 maximum per accident (which is very similar to Uber’s contingent liability coverage). While this may sound like a lot of money, this may be just a fraction of what medical bills and lost wages could be when serious injuries are involved.
- Driving a passenger at the time of the accident: When an accident occurs as a driver is transporting a passenger, the driver and passenger are generally covered under the ridesharing company’s liability coverage. Both Uber and Lyft have one-million-dollar liability coverage policies as well as one million dollars in uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage, which means that even if another driver caused the accident and didn’t have insurance or enough insurance, the ridesharing company’s policy should cover the injuries and losses. But beware that insurance companies are always looking to pay out as little money as possible. So even though the coverage may be there, you might have to fight to get fair compensation.
What should I do if I’m in an accident with Uber or Lyft?
If you are a victim of a rideshare accident, it is important to know what steps to take to achieve the most viably successful result of your claim. Whether you were involved in an accident as another driver or as a passenger of an Uber or Lyft, the first action you should take is to get medical attention for yourself and others injured. Once you know that help is on the way, collect each participant’s name, contact information, and insurance details. It will also prove beneficial to take photos of various angles of the scene of the accident prior to leaving. If you haven’t already at this point, contact the police from the scene of the accident. Having a police report could be very beneficial when it comes to filing your claim. Although it is not always necessary to file a police report in the event that no injuries have been sustained, any accident involving a rideshare company should be documented in this manner. Lastly, you should contact a lawyer. If you have been injured, work with a car accident attorney who handles ridesharing accident claims.
Should I report the accident to Uber or Lyft?
One step you should absolutely take if you have been in an accident with Uber or Lyft is to report the accident directly to the rideshare company. Once the ride is completed, the apps will prompt you to rate the ride. You can report the accident from there. If you do not want to wait for this prompt to appear, you can call the company directly.
What will happen if the Uber or Lyft driver was responsible for the crash?
Uber or Lyft drivers carry two types of insurance coverage: personal and company coverage. If you are a passenger or another driver who was injured, we encourage you to get assistance with your case to ensure that you get the compensation you need and deserve.
If my vehicle was hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, can I sue the company?
Uber and Lyft have protections in place against lawsuits. They do this by designating their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. Although there are some cases that could warrant a lawsuit against the company, a thorough investigation of the incident would be required.
Filing an Uber or Lyft Accident Lawsuit
When an accident occurs involving a Lyft or Uber driver, there could be multiple insurance companies involved, including the driver’s personal insurance, your own insurance, and the ridesharing company’s insurance. This is why things can get complicated really fast. In addition, most insurance companies don’t offer fair compensation for injured victims, which is why those who are injured in auto accidents—especially those who are seriously injured—need to contact an attorney who has experience standing up to large insurance companies.
At Shevlin Smith, we know what it takes to get our clients the maximum compensation for their losses, and we would be honored to assist you with your Uber or Lyft lawsuit. Our Fairfax rideshare lawyers can help you clearly understand your options and help you pursue a plan of action tailored to your needs and goals.
How Long Will It Take to Settle a Rideshare Accident Case?
With all car accident cases, the length of time that it takes to settle will depend on how long each step of the process takes and how amicable the process is between you, your attorney, and the insurance company.
Some of the factors that will impact the length of time are:
- What the available insurance coverage is
- The severity of the injuries suffered
- How the accident occurred
Generally, however, Lyft and Uber are not quick to settle personal injury claims, primarily due to their high liability insurance policy limits. On average, it can take up to six weeks to receive a response to a demand letter and claim. And if negotiations are required, it could take longer.
New California Law May Impact Rideshare Accident Liability
In September 2019, California passed a new law that makes it harder for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. Since most rideshare companies do just this, they will most likely have to reclassify their drivers as employees, placer a greater responsibility on the rideshare company in the event of an accident.
Read our blog post “New California Law Could Change the Game for Uber Accident Liability” to learn more!
Want to Learn More?
Our law firm has written a book outlining everything you need to know about your rideshare accident claim. From the complex laws surrounding these types of accidents to what kind of compensation you may be able to pursue, our attorneys aimed to write a book that would put the minds of accident victims at ease. Click below to download our free book!
With over 130 years of combined legal experience defending the rights of the injured, our dedicated attorneys have the tools and the knowledge to fight on your behalf.