Complexities of Pennsylvania Rideshare Accidents
The rise of ridesharing companies comes with many benefits: safer options for people to get home after a night of drinking, the comfort of knowing your ride is tracked and recorded, more travel options for those with limited mobility. But of course, ridesharing accidents are still a risk when using a rideshare service. And in the case of rideshare accidents, there’s often an added layer of complexity when determining who is at fault and how you should proceed as a passenger or injured party.
In a 2019 safety report, Uber reported 97 fatal crashes and a total of 107 deaths in 2017 and 2018 combined. While this number may seem low when taken with the fact that there are tens of thousands of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in the US each year, it’s key to remember that Uber here is excluding mention of all of their non-fatal accidents. A rideshare vehicle accident without a fatality can still be extremely and deeply damaging to those involved, both physically and emotionally. If you have been injured in PA rideshare accidents, look no further for the legal team that can guide you through this process with ease. All ridesharing accident victims deserve to have their rights protected, with the help of a Lyft accident lawyer or Uber accident lawyer.
You are most likely overwhelmed with questions. Where do I begin? Do I need to seek legal advice? Do I need to file a claim, and if so, on what grounds? Well, the Pennsylvania rideshare accident lawyers at Munley Law in Pennsylvania are here to help ensure you receive maximum compensation. Our Pennsylvania rideshare accident lawyers are here to aid all car accident victims in navigating the law with ease. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What to do after the car accident
As with any ridesharing accident, you should call police to the scene immediately. They will file a report that will serve as the official record of what happened. Insurance company investigators will then use that report as their baseline when determining liability. Of course it’s also crucial to seek medical care as soon as possible in the event that you are injured.
It’s wise to document the scene as best you can, should you need this information when filing an insurance claim or a personal injury suit. You can take pictures of the accident, take down the information of any and all drivers involved, and talk to witnesses to get their account of what happened. It may be wise to get a picture of your driver’s valid drivers’ license, as well as that of any other drivers involved. This information will also be useful in reporting the accident to Uber Lyft or other companies.
Rideshare drivers as independent contractors
One key difference between when a rideshare accident occurs and when other accidents occur is that the accident is essentially occurring at the rideshare driver’s place of work. However, unlike in other cases of corporate negligence, Uber and Lyft drivers are not actually direct full time employees of those companies.
Rather, Uber Lyft drivers are independent contractors, or individuals that are contracted with the company to fulfill ride pick ups. This means drivers from most rideshare companies can, and often do, work for more than one company at once, and have some degree of flexibility in terms of their hours and schedule. In terms of liability, if you are injured while riding in an Uber for example, there’s the question of whether the driver or the company is at fault. Because a rideshare driver is an independent contractor, they can legally be held solely responsible, and what’s more, Uber and Lyft have gone to great lengths to avoid corporate responsibility for rideshare accidents.
Frequently Asked Questions in Pennsylvania Rideshare Accidents
Q: How is liability determined?
Determining liability in a car accident is often a complicated process and multiple factors are taken into account. At times, one driver may assume the entirety of the fault, while in other cases, both (or all) parties involved may be found to share some degree of liability. In still other cases, it may be the car manufacturer or other third party that’s truly responsible. Investigators will look at whether any of the drivers involved were negligent in some way, whether they were showing signs of distracted driving or not obeying traffic laws. Generally, the insurance companies involved will then assign each driver involved some percentage of responsibility.
As mentioned above, the fact that Uber, Lyft, and other Pennsylvania rideshare companies view their drivers as independent contractors adds another layer of complexity. Uber uses this distinction as a way to avoid any real responsibility on the company side. However, the Uber or Lyft driver being an independent contractor is something that’s often up for debate when an Uber and Lyft accident occurs, and the law is still catching up in terms of how this distinction plays out legally.
In a 2014 case, the state of California in fact determined that one driver was in fact an employee, not an independent contractor, and therefore legally owed over $4,000 in compensation from Uber for expenses she incurred while working for the company. Uber was quick to note that this ruling was “nonbinding and applies to a single driver”.
Q: Is there a statute of limitations on filing a suit?
In general, the state of Pennsylvania holds a two year statute of limitations on all personal injury suits and claims, whether that seeks to cover damages from a serious injury or wrongful death. Property damage suits also bear a two year statute. The two year countdown begins at the time of the accident that resulted in injury or damaged property.
Q: What kind of injuries commonly occur as a result of these accidents?
As with all car accidents, there are a wide range of injuries that may occur in an Uber or Lyft accident. These include but are not limited to:
● Broken bones
● Loss of a limb
Of course, the damages that occur as a result of a rideshare crash like Uber and Lyft accidents can be psychological, emotional, and mental as well as physical. Research has shown that car accidents can lead to long lasting PTSD, anxiety, depression, and phobias. Emotional distress that requires therapeutic treatment is also common.
Q: What kind of financial compensation can I expect from a rideshare accident?
The compensation you can expect may include the following:
● The cost of medical expenses or medical bills
● The cost of therapy or other psychological services
● Lost wages
● Vehicle repair or replacement costs
● The cost of alternative transportation if your vehicle has been damaged beyond use
Q: How does insurance work with ridesharing accidents?
In the state of Pennsylvania, all drivers are required to carry insurance, and this of course applies to Uber drivers and Lyft drivers as well. Because the chance of an accident is higher for a rideshare driver, based simply on how frequently a ridesharing driver is on the road, this typically means their insurance rates are higher. Currently, Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies allow their drivers to set their own private insurance limits within reason. In Pennsylvania, the minimums are as follows:
● $15,000 per person
● $30,000 per rideshare accident
● $5,000 as the minimum property damage liability coverage
Rideshare companies then offer supplemental coverage through their own insurance policies, which varies based on the specifics of the accident. If the app is on but no trip has been accepted, Uber and Lyft supplemental insurance covers $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for injury and $25,000 for property damage. This means that, for example, if an Uber driver has their app open but had not yet accepted a specific trip and injured a pedestrian or biker, Uber’s insurance would supplement whatever the driver’s private insurance covers up to a limit of $50,000. So if the cost of an accident is determined at $50,000 and the driver’s personal insurance goes up to $15,000, Uber or Lyft would cover the remaining $35,000.
This limit increases greatly both when a ride has been accepted and when a rideshare passenger is in the car. In both of these cases, Uber insurance coverage will cover up to one million dollars for liability, and one million dollars for uninsured/undercovered drivers and property damages. The liability portion of this covers anyone injured by the driver or their vehicle, whether that be a passenger or a pedestrian. The other million, the uninsured/undercovered portion, protects the driver and their passenger from injury by a secondary vehicle. If, for example, you are in an Uber and are struck by another negligent driver in their own car who does not have sufficient insurance, or does not have their own coverage at all, this portion comes into play.
Q: What if the damages exceed Uber’s coverage?
In very extreme cases, the damages and cost of personal injury to the passenger may be in excess of one million, therefore surpassing the insurance coverage the rideshare company offers. If this is the case, you do have the right to pursue legal action against the company via a personal injury suit. This is a complex pursuit; as discussed above, Uber’s drivers are technically “independent contractors”, which means Uber as a company does not assume responsibility for their actions or negligence. But complex as these cases may be, they are absolutely worth considering as a course of action.
In a case where you are seeking compensation that exceeds the insurance cover the rideshare company offers, you may need to file a personal injury suit or a property damage suit.
Unfortunately, there are many devastating horror stories about individuals who have sought fair compensation from Uber after an accident and have been either denied or shortchanged. That is why you need a motor vehicle accident lawyer who can help guide you through the process and offer reliable and sound legal advice.
Q: Questions to ask your Lyft lawyer or Uber lawyer
● What kind of evidence should I provide?
○ This often involves evidence of the financial burden the accident has had on you, such as medical bills
● What kind of compensation can I expect?
○ This often includes medical bills, lost wages, and the cost of physical therapy if it’s needed
● Do you have experience with rideshare accident cases?
● Do you have trial experience, in the case that I do need to file a suit and it goes to trial?
● Do you think I have a case?
Why Munley Law Rideshare Accident Attorneys?
Car accident claims are overwhelming, and being a victim of any type of accident is undoubtedly a terrible experience. You deserve the best when it comes to fighting for your rightful maximum compensation. Particularly in the complex and oft-changing legalities around Uber accidents and Lyft accidents, you’ll want the support of an experienced Pennsylvania rideshare lawyer.
Having a ridesharing accident attorney on your side will help ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation, and are not lowballed by a powerful corporation. Our team of ten excellent, highly experienced lawyers and dozens of excellent legal support staff will work tirelessly for you, and we do not get paid unless you win. At Munley, the attorney client relationship is treated with the utmost care and respect, and you are welcome to a free initial consultation before moving forward.
At Munley Law, each of our Lyft accident lawyers and Uber accident lawyers have over a decade of experience, as well as hands-on trial and courtroom experience. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Munley Law to discuss your Uber or Lyft accident and how we can be of service. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can help protect your interests.