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The growth of ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft has been swift and the laws and regulations governing them have barely been able to keep pace. Presently, Uber says it has over 160,000 drivers and is also available in international markets, giving rise to definite legal concerns for passengers who may be injured in a ride sharing accident.
If you are hit by an Uber or Lyft driver and the driver was not providing ride service at the time of the accident, then the incident may be treated as a personal car accident with liability resting with the person at fault and their insurance.
If the driver’s app was active and they were waiting for a ride request, then the driver’s personal insurance covers damages up to the maximum allowed by the policy. Amounts over the maximum may be covered by the ride-sharing company’s contingent liability policy.
Liability becomes more complicated if the driver’s app was active at the time of the accident and they were either on the way to pick up passengers or already delivering them to their destination. If this is the case and the accident was caused by the negligence of the ride-share company driver, then damages may be covered by the company’s commercial insurance. Compensation may be for up to $1 million. However, recovering compensation from companies like Uber and Lyft can prove difficult.
Because drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft are largely part-time and scheduling their own work through the ride-sharing app, the companies claim that the drivers are independent contractors, not employees. This is a tactic to avoid liability for anything that happens during the ride-sharing process. Despite Uber’s background check requirements for drivers, there have been many reported incidents of the company’s drivers committing crimes and causing accidents, including 23 fatalities.
Because ride share companies can be considered common carriers, or entities that transport passengers for a fee, they have a higher responsibility to ensure the safety of their passengers than regular drivers of passenger vehicles. While the companies themselves will deny responsibility for the negligence of one of their drivers, injured passengers of Uber and Lyft vehicles have a right to act against an at-fault driver and the ride-sharing company they work for.
An investigation by Philadelphia station, 6ABC Action News, found that many ride sharing vehicles have open recalls that have not been repaired. Out of 266 Uber cars, 20 percent had an open recall, calling the safety of ride share vehicles into question. The problems ranged from seat belts to the faulty airbags manufactured by Takata, that have been linked to seven fatalities. Uber does not require drivers to fix any open recalls that exist on the car they are using to pick up passengers. Recovering compensation in an accident involving a ride-sharing vehicle may be complex and is best pursued with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, contact Rhoades & Morrow to speak to a dedicated Wilmington car accident lawyer about your legal options. We will review your case for free, so call 302-427-9500 today or contact us online to schedule an appointment in our Wilmington, Bear, or Milford, Delaware offices, where we represent clients in New Castle County and Sussex County.