The Rise in Ride Sharing Accident Claims in California

Q: What happens if you are injured as a Lyft or Uber passenger due to the fault of your driver?

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. It’s thinking like this that has led to the responsible current culture of calling  a taxi—or more often an Uber or Lyft these days—to give you a safe ride home after some partying or indulgence that would make you unsafe, or illegal, behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, these well-intentioned rides may go awry and you may need an Uber and Lyft Ride Sharing Accident attorney.

Uber and Lyft are ride-share companies, like taxis, in that they provide drivers for people who need rides. Riders use an app on their phones to order a driver to their location at a particular time, even paying through the app. Independent contractors, approved as drivers by the ride share company, sign on to accept riders when they want to work, and once signed on can accept a waiting rider’s call using their own vehicles.  

Because the relationship between Uber and Lyft and their drivers is not classified as employer-employee, and drivers use their personal vehicles not company cars, there are many protections and benefits lost to both drivers and riders, especially when it comes to accident claims. But repeated legal challenges across the nation to the “independent contractor vs. employee” classification of the drivers, as well as legislative reform, are bringing much needed change and enabling the injured to file Uber and Lyft claims.

Fortunately in California, Transportation Network Companies, like rideshare companies, and/or their drivers are required to provide $1 Million insurance to cover riders using the app for “death, personal injury, or property damage” occurring in the personal vehicles of the company’s drivers while a ride share is in progress–from the moment they enter the car until they exit it. Accidents and claims outside that working scenario would proceed as any other non-commercial automobile accident claim would through the driver’s personal auto insurance.

Imagine calling a Lyft one morning to avoid driving after a celebration only to find out after it was too late that the driver himself was intoxicated.

That’s what two Southern California women claimed happened one morning when their Lyft driver showed up at 10:00 am in response to their ride-share request. The women passengers—one of whom was actually an Uber driver herself—never suspected their ride-share driver would be drunk for the morning call when they got in the vehicle. Along the ride, the driver allegedly made an illegal left turn into several lanes of traffic, causing the horrific crash. Police reportedly arrested the Lyft driver at the scene and the company, citing its “zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy”, banned the driver for life.

The women were both violently tossed about the car and sustained injuries including bruises cuts and soreness, with one woman reportedly suffering a heart attack. The women have sued the driver as well as Lyft for their personal injuries.

In addition to proving liability—that the driver’s negligent, reckless or intentional actions were responsible for the injuries—a personal injury suit requires proof of your serious injuries. The compensatory damages a victim may recover differ depending on the situation, but generally include current and anticipated future medical bills, rehabilitation, and treatment, property damage, current and future lost or diminished income, pain and suffering, and sometimes even punitive damages if the conduct that caused the injuries was particularly egregious.

If you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, you need personal injury attorneys who are familiar with this rapidly developing area of accident law. J&Y Law Firm has experienced Uber & Lyft accident attorneys who can help you maximize your recovery. Do not talk to an insurance company representative without seeking legal counsel first. Call us today at 888-806-6722. We represent clients all over California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Rancho Cucamonga, San Francisco, and Sacramento.