Special Rules in Ridesharing Accidents Explained by Our Auto Accident Lawyer in Philadelphia, PA
Move over taxis, ridesharing apps like Uber, Lyft, and many others have taken over as being more convenient, readily accessible, and cheaper. Roughly 36% of Americans have summoned rides through a ridesharing app, with that normal only steadily increasing over the years. But while ridesharing apps have made commuting and travel more convenient, they have also made commuting more dangerous. According to troubling research from the University of Chicago and Rice University, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have increased traffic-related deaths by 2%-3% in the United States since 2011. In Pennsylvania specifically, while DOT statistics show the total number of injuries hovering around the same figures, “suspected serious injuries” from auto accidents have skyrocketed by almost 30%.
Thus, while hiring an Uber, Lyft, or another ridesharing service may be the more responsible and convenient thing to do, it is not always the safest. Adding injury to insult is the fact that many ridesharing services make it very difficult for victims of ridesharing accidents to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and other damages like pain and suffering. Oftentimes the insurance carrier for the ridesharing company will disclaim and argue the driver was an independent contractor and not an employee. Other times insurance companies will even blame the rider for his or her injury.
Here at Silver & Silver, we do not think that is fair at all. And we will not let insurance companies get away with it. We have some of the leading auto accident lawyers in Philadelphia, PA, and have fought against some of the largest insurance companies in the United States. We will not ridesharing companies rake in huge profits while deflecting the costs of your medical bills, lost wages, and personal injuries to others by disclaiming or denying valid claims.
If you have been injured in an Uber accident or Lyft accident, you need an attorney to fight back for you who is both compassionate but aggressive with these large companies and their teams of lawyers. Ridesharing accidents are not like normal auto accidents and have a complex matrix of rules and insurance policy exclusions. Let’s take a look at some of the special rules that make these types of car crash cases more difficult.
Rideshare Services in Philadelphia, PA
Mass transit is always a consideration for every major city, especially one as large and historic as Philadelphia. Ridesharing services have greatly helped many individuals living, working, and visiting Philadelphia get to where they need to go. Unlike traditional transit services like taxis or transit through SEPTA’s buses, trolleys, subways, and trains, ridesharing apps offer individualized and “on demand” requests for transport throughout the city. Many users find this simply more convenient, especially because payment and tipping are done through the app rather than exchanging in a vehicle. This is safer for both the driver and the riders from a position of crime prevention.
Uber and Lyft Services in PA
Both Uber and Lyft offer similar services and similar prices. Both generally have the same geographic reach throughout Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania. Customers have many options to choose from when hailing either an Uber or a Lyft.
- UberX – an affordable and private ride with up to four passengers. The most common option.
- Uber Pool – very affordable but shared rides that are usually door to door, or might require a short walk. There are pickups along the way and it may take a little longer, but the savings are higher. Two seats per request are the maximum.
- Uber Comfort – an enchanted experience with new vehicles, greater legroom, and highly rated, experienced drivers (not new to the app). Temperature and climate options are available on the app.
- UberXL – larger vehicles like vans and SUVs conducive to having more riders (up to six) or for luggage and cargo. Ideal for airport pickups and drop-offs, or nights out with a larger group of friends, family, or colleagues.
- Uber Black – luxury vehicles only with professional drivers having a minimum of 4.85 stars, insured to drive commercially, and must meet all state and local livery regulations. Vehicles are upscale and the appointments for pickups are very flexible to accommodate riders.
- Uber WAV – affordable rides in wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAV), but availability is often limited.
- Lyft – the affordable and basic pickup or ride with four seats for you and guests or luggage.
- Priority Pickup – more expensive for priority service which means shorter wait times and faster pickups to get you where you need to go in a hurry and when it is important.
- Extra Seats – larger vehicles like vans and SUVs for up to six riders or for luggage and cargo storage. Also ideal for formal and expensive events so you have room to space out.
- Lyft Lux – premium vehicles with extra legroom, newer cars, and top-rated drivers.
- Lyft Rentals – rent a car for road trips, moving days, or weekend escapes with unlimited miles and a starter tank of gasoline.
Liability Issues in Ridesharing Accidents
Unlike a taxi, bus, or other transit service, ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft hide behind insurance policies and contracts with their drivers in order to shield liability the best they can. In fact, these ridesharing companies train their insurance adjusters and claims representatives on how to minimize and undermine an otherwise valid claim.
This is because an auto accident while in a ridesharing accident creates unique issues on liability that is still somewhat unsettled in the law. For example, taxi drivers are employees of the taxi company whereas ridesharing drivers are independent contractors. Taxi drivers also have certain license and insurance requirements, whereas ridesharing drivers do not. Taxi companies also have certain obligations to train their drivers, and bus companies must comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for their drivers. Whereas ridesharing companies still have little regulatory oversight and offer minimal if any training.
As a result, ridesharing companies often shift blame away from themselves and onto the driver or even the rider. Many times ridesharing companies will not extend coverage or attempt to settle a claim even if it is a valid claim. This is because, as a passenger in a motor vehicle wreck, oftentimes the passenger has no role in liability and is usually entitled to the full value of their damages claim.
How to Support Your Ridesharing Accident Claim
The largest component to recovering compensation is whether you were actively logged into the rideshare app when the crash occurred. Therefore, if you are injured in a ridesharing crash the best thing you can do to support your case is to immediately take a screenshot of your phone with the app up and the map depicting your location. The ridesharing company has the pickup location and drop-off location, and if you can show that the crash took place not at either of those locations you can establish that the app was still working and therefore you were still in a ride. The police will also generate an accident report with the geographic location that can help corroborate your app’s map with the scene of the crash.
Outside of taking a screenshot of the app when an accident occurs, some other tips that can help support your claim include the following:
- Call 911 in a ridesharing crash, especially if you believe you may have suffered any injury—even a slight one. Small injuries typically worsen over several days. Get police to create a record of what happened, even if the driver insists otherwise.
- Get evaluated by EMS and, if referred to the hospital, go. This is not the time to be a hero, your health is very important. Anything that hurts should be immediately evaluated by a trained professional.
- Write down the driver’s information, as well as the information for the other motorist, any witnesses, and get all necessary insurance contacts. If you are too injured, make sure to ask the police to do it for you.
- Take photographs or videos of the accident scene, damage to the vehicles, your injuries, and other relevant evidence.
- Contact an experienced auto accident lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, even before contacting your insurance company (which should be done as soon as practice). Everything you say to an insurance adjuster could be used against you.
When Ridesharing Accident Happen, Our Law Firm Can Help
No matter what star rating or however safe Uber or Lyft label their driver, ridesharing accidents often do happen. While many are minor fender benders, unfortunately some can result in catastrophic personal injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations. Other injuries like broken bones, nerve damages, and organ damage are also common. Rideshare and insurance companies know the true value of these personal injuries and often will not treat you fairly by either referring you to other coverage, minimizing your damages, or even disclaiming coverage.
Here at Silver & Silver, we will not let that happen. We offer all victims of motor vehicle wrecks a FREE consultation and, if we accept your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation into liability to prove your case. Even if you are not a resident of Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, as a tourist your claim may still need to be filed here and, in some instances, it may be required to be filed here. Call to speak with one of our knowledgeable auto accident lawyers in Philadelphia, PA today to learn what your rights to compensation may be under the law.