Uber & Lyft Accident Lawyer
As of June 2017, New York law allows Uber and Lyft to operate statewide. Prior to this date, the rideshare companies could operate in NYC but not in Long Island or Upstate New York. With rideshare now legal throughout the state, ridership will increase – as will related car accidents. While Uber and Lyft present attractive alternatives to traditional cabs in NYC, their lax hiring practices leave some questioning their safety. Those involved in rideshare accidents wonder who will pay for damages. The lawyers at Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, P.C. can help.
Understanding Rideshare Accidents
Rideshare crashes are different from typical car accidents in New York. They also differ from taxi accidents. They involve companies that hire independent contractors as drivers instead of hiring them as employees. Ridesharing also uses the driver’s personal vehicle, not a fleet car that the company maintains. Understanding your rights as an injured passenger after an Uber or Lyft crash can require help from an attorney, especially in the face of constantly changing NY rideshare laws. Here is some general information about rideshare accident claims:
- Vicarious liability. In a typical accident involving a hired driver, injured parties may be able to blame the company that hired the employee. The laws of vicarious liability make most employers liable for the actions of their employees. Uber and Lyft, however, do not have employed drivers – they have independent contractors. This can make it difficult to sue the company for a driver’s negligence.
- Rideshare insurance policies. Both Uber and Lyft have $1 million insurance policies in place to cover driver and passenger bodily injury. However, these policies will only come into play if the driver is searching for a new rider, on the way to pick up the rider, or transporting a rider to a destination. The amounts of coverage will also depend on when the accident occurred. An attorney can give you peace of mind while going up against these major insurers for fair compensation.
- Comparative negligence. As a rideshare passenger, your own liability for the accident will most likely not come into play. This can benefit you since it limits the defense’s ability to allege comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is the doctrine of the plaintiff’s own percentage of fault for the crash. If you were the driver at the time of the crash, your own actions may reduce your compensation award.
- Proving negligence. Many rideshare accidents stem from driver distraction. Uber and Lyft both require their drivers to use smartphone apps while driving. Drivers have mere seconds to accept new ride requests before they lose the opportunity to take the ride. Proving a driver’s negligence due to using a phone can require accessing the phone records or interviewing witnesses.
The unique elements of a rideshare case make it important to retain an attorney after a crash. Dealing with Uber or Lyft’s insurance companies can be a headache and lead to inadequate compensation. A lawyer can help you maximize compensation as a driver, passenger, or third party such as a pedestrian. No matter your role in the accident, talk to an attorney about your legal opportunities. Visit us online to request a free initial consultation.