Before riding – or riding again – with a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber, what should Miami-area consumers know? For example, what if you’re a passenger, an accident happens, and you’re seriously injured? You will need to consult at once with the right Miami personal injury attorney.
In south Florida and around the globe, ridesharing has swiftly flourished. Uber started in 2009, and in 2019, it was estimated to have over 110 million users worldwide. Lyft was launched in 2012. It’s the number two U.S. ride-sharing company; its U.S. market share in 2020 is 28 percent.
Lyft and Uber each offer a number of conveniences to Miami-area consumers, and “rideshare” rides are usually less expensive than taxis. However, consumers should know about the liability and insurance issues that may arise if a Lyft or Uber vehicle becomes involved in an accident.
What are passenger rights with Uber and Lyft? What if you’re riding with Lyft or Uber, and you are seriously injured? Or if you’re injured in the other vehicle, or if you’re a pedestrian? Who will be liable for your medical bills, lost income, and your other accident-related losses?
WHAT IS A RIDESHARE COMPANY’S DUTY TO THE CONSUMER?
Rideshare companies as well as taxi, bus, limo, and rail services are legally obligated to their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. They have what the law calls a “duty of care” to keep their vehicles maintained and to hire only drivers who have reasonably good driving records.
Thus, if you’re hurt because a taxi, bus, limo, rail, or rideshare company was negligent, the law in Florida gives you the right to recover damages from that company for your medical bills, lost income, and even for your personal pain and suffering.
WHEN CAN A RIDESHARE COMPANY BE HELD LIABLE?
Generally speaking, Uber and Lyft are liable if one of their on-duty drivers, through negligence, causes a crash that results in injuries. What’s important is the part about being on duty. Liability transfers to a rideshare company only when a rideshare driver is working and a crash takes place.
A south Florida personal injury attorney can help you bring legal action against a rideshare driver who injures you, but if that driver wasn’t working when the accident happened, the case will be handled like a typical personal injury case.
However, when a Lyft or Uber driver has a passenger in the vehicle, that driver, his or her passenger or passengers, and third parties who are injured in an accident are covered with a million-dollar liability policy and a million-dollar uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
WHAT DOES “BEING COVERED” REALLY MEAN?
However, “coverage” in a traffic collision that involves Lyft or Uber doesn’t stop an automobile insurer from disputing an injury claim.
The insurers that provide the million-dollar coverage to Lyft and Uber may act to minimize their own liability and pay a negligence victim minimum compensation – or reject the claim entirely. A victim of negligence is going to need a good attorney’s help to recover full compensation.
For instance, after an accident that injures you, an insurer may accuse you of exaggerating or fabricating your injury – or the company may claim that any injuries pre-existed before the crash. Thus, even if you’re ostensibly “covered,” you’ll need a South Florida injury attorney’s help.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER ACCIDENT SCENARIOS?
If a Lyft or Uber driver isn’t transporting a passenger when an accident happens, but the driver is instead waiting for a call or on the way to a passenger – that is, if a driver is on-duty but without a passenger – that’s when personal injury claims involving Lyft and Uber get quite complicated.
When a Lyft or Uber driver is working but has no passenger, Lyft or Uber may enhance the driver’s personal automobile policy with extra coverage, but every one of these cases will be different, so injury victims will need to seek a personal injury lawyer’s sound legal advice.
IF AN ACCIDENT HAPPENS, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
If you are injured in a collision that involves a rideshare vehicle, no attorney will be at the accident scene to advise you. Try to think clearly, because you’ll need to summon medical help and law enforcement, take photos, and get contact information from any eyewitnesses.
Unless you are too seriously injured or incapacitated, take plenty of photos. Photographs are persuasive evidence in personal injury cases arising from vehicle accidents. The statements or testimony of eyewitnesses – people who do not even know you – can also often be convincing.
Of course, you’ll need the other driver’s name, address, phone number, and as much information as possible. If the driver is working for Lyft or Uber – or another rideshare business – get details about the company and the coverage. Learn who to contact and where to file an insurance claim.
Then get medical attention and legal advice.
HOW WILL A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?
Don’t speak with the other driver’s auto insurer – or with a rideshare company’s insurance provider – before you’ve consulted with a Miami injury attorney. Insurance companies can twist your words to deny your claim or to offer you a “lowball” settlement amount.
Instead, let an experienced car accident attorney – a seasoned negotiator who routinely handles personal injury claims – do the talking and negotiating for you.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD ACCIDENT VICTIMS KNOW
Anyone who travels on Florida’s streets and highways should also know about the state’s 14-Day Rule. After a traffic accident in Florida, you must be examined and/or treated by a healthcare professional within 14 days of the collision, or you cannot receive damages. That is the law.
After a traffic collision in Florida, do not wait to have a medical examination or to consult a Miami injury attorney. Have a medical examination – and treatment if you need it – immediately. Then arrange promptly to speak with a good Miami personal injury attorney.
The right accident attorney will explain how Florida law applies in your case and whether you have legal standing to bring a personal injury claim. Your first meeting with a South Florida personal injury attorney is free of charge and entails no obligation.
You pay no attorneys’ fees unless and until your personal injury attorney recovers – in private negotiations or in court – the compensation that you are entitled to under Florida law. The “contingent fee” system gives everyone a level playing field and an opportunity to win justice.
Don’t let yourself be confused, bullied, or cheated by an auto insurance company. Ridesharing is easy and convenient, but if you’re injured because a Lyft or Uber driver was negligent, the right attorney can make all the difference.