Filing a Lawsuit After an Uber or Lyft Car Accident

June 23, 2024

If you were in an Uber or Lyft accident—either as a passenger in the rideshare vehicle or the rideshare driver collided with your vehicle—you are likely considering your options for obtaining compensation.

Read on to learn the key things you need to know about potentially filing a lawsuit after an Uber or Lyft car accident and getting the compensation you deserve.

For specific advice and guidance regarding your claim, you can contact an experienced rideshare car accident attorney near you for a free consultation.

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Understanding the Legal Landscape of Uber and Lyft Accident Claims

When you enter an Uber or Lyft, you enter a complex world of independent contractors, insurance policies, and potentially liable parties.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • The classification of Uber and Lyft drivers as independent contractors: One of the biggest issues in these cases is that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors, not employees. Why does this matter? It means the companies often try to distance themselves from liability in accidents, arguing they aren’t responsible for the actions of these independent drivers. However, this classification has been challenged in court and legislative actions.
  • Uber and Lyft insurance policies: Both Uber and Lyft do hold insurance policies that can cover damages in an accident, but the applicability of the coverage depends on the driver’s status at the time of the crash. If the driver was actively transporting a passenger or en route to pick someone up, the company’s $1 million liability coverage is in effect. But if the driver was just idling or offline, it gets more complex, and their lower contingent policies or the driver’s personal auto insurance may come into play.
  • The potential parties involved in a lawsuit: Depending on the circumstances, you might sue the rideshare driver, the rideshare company like Uber or Lyft, and/or any other drivers involved in the accident. The driver is an obvious potential defendant since they may have been negligent. But the rideshare company could also be liable if they were negligent in their hiring, background checks, or other practices. And of course, if another driver caused the accident, they and their insurer would also be roped into the case. It can get messy fast.

When You May Recover Compensation in a Rideshare Accident Case

What does it take to actually win one of these cases and get compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages? Several key factors come into play:

Factors That Influence Liability

Proving liability means showing the other party was at fault for the accident.

Key evidence includes things like police reports, witness statements, photos, and surveillance video that can show the driver was negligent through actions like speeding, running red lights, driving while distracted, or driving while intoxicated.

The condition and maintenance of the vehicle can also be relevant if something like bald tires or failed brakes contributed to the crash.

The Role of Insurance Companies in Determining Liability

As you might imagine, insurers for Uber, Lyft, and the drivers aren’t eager to just accept liability and pay out big settlements. They will investigate the accident and try to deny claims if they see an opening.

For example, if the driver wasn’t logged into the app or was violating company policy, they may argue the rideshare company insurance doesn’t apply. If they can find evidence you were also negligent, they’ll argue your damages should decrease.

Hire an attorney experienced with these specific types of accidents to counter the insurers’ tactics.

The Importance of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

One of the most critical aspects of successfully navigating a claim against Uber or Lyft is hiring an experienced rideshare accident attorney.

Uber and Lyft have considerable legal resources at their disposal, and you need an attorney to handle crucial tasks like:

  • Investigating the accident and gathering evidence like police reports, medical records, witness statements, and expert analysis to build the strongest case
  • Negotiating aggressively with the insurers and rideshare company to get you the maximum settlement offer, and counter any attempts to deny or limit your claim
  • Representing you in court and at trial if the insurers won’t make a fair offer and your case needs to be pursued in the legal system
  • Handling all the legal procedures, deadlines, and paperwork so you can focus on your physical recovery

Your lawyer is your advocate and champion against these big companies that will use every tactic to avoid responsibility.

Going Through Uber or Lyft Insurance for Compensation

One option is to seek compensation directly from Uber or Lyft’s insurers. As mentioned, both companies have $1 million liability policies and certain contingent coverages.

To file a claim, you typically need to report the accident in the Uber or Lyft app and provide information to the insurer when they reach out.

However, the insurer wants to settle quickly and cheaply. They may pressure you to accept an initial lowball offer before you understand the full extent of your injuries and damages. Or they may try to get you to make statements that harm your case.

Route any communications through your attorney, who will fight for full and fair compensation.

Rideshare Insurance Companies Have a Bad Reputation

Rideshare insurers have developed a bad reputation for putting profits over people. Rideshare companies have faced lawsuits accusing them of failing to properly background check dangerous drivers, misclassifying drivers as contractors to avoid liability, and fighting injured parties in court.

Some claimants have reported difficulty getting rideshare insurers to respond promptly, feeling pressured to settle for less, and facing delays and denials. While each case is unique, it’s clear you need a legal advocate on your side to compel these companies to do the right thing.

Your Case May Settle Out of Court

Another thing to consider is that your case may never make it to court. Many valid rideshare accident claims end up settling before they reach trial. This means the insurer or rideshare company agrees to pay an acceptable amount without disputing or denying your claim. Your attorney will negotiate back and forth to reach a fair settlement.

How can you tell if the insurance company will settle? If your evidence of their insured’s fault is strong and your attorney thoroughly documents your damages, the insurance company may think they are likely to lose if the case goes to court.

Also, a court case costs them expensive legal fees, expert witnesses, and the possibility a jury will award you even more in damages. Thus, they may settle to control their costs.

Why the Insurance Company Doesn’t Want a Lawsuit

In addition to the expense, insurance companies have other reasons to dread a public lawsuit. The media attention and publicity around the case could damage the rideshare company’s reputation and business. It could expose problematic company practices in driver screening, training, or vehicle maintenance.

The rideshare companies also don’t want a legal precedent set, where they are found fully liable for the drivers’ actions. While some courts have ruled on the issue, these companies assert that drivers are contractors in these cases. A settlement lets them avoid a definitive legal finding on that controversial question.

Filing a Lawsuit Against Uber or Lyft

Sometimes, however, the insurance company won’t settle for a reasonable amount. If this happens in your case, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit to pursue your full damages. Here’s what that process typically involves:

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Your lawyer will draft a complaint describing your accident, injuries, the legal basis for fault, and the compensation you demand. Your lawyer will file the complaint in the appropriate court, and authorities will serve your complaint to the defendants.

The defendants then have a chance to respond. This starts the discovery process, where each side requests information and evidence from the other, takes depositions, and builds their case.

The Timeline for a Typical Uber or Lyft Accident Lawsuit

Even after your attorney files your suit, it may take time to reach a trial date, as the court calendar is often backlogged.

Discovery also takes time, and there may be pretrial motions arguing various legal issues. The process from filing to resolution could take more time. However, a settlement is possible at any point if the parties negotiate an agreeable number.

The Potential Damages You Can Recover

In a successful rideshare accident lawsuit, you can recover economic damages for tangible financial costs like:

  • Past and future medical bills for your treatment
  • Lost wages from missing work
  • Reduced future earning capacity if you are disabled
  • Property damage to your vehicle or belongings

You can also recover non-economic damages for intangible impacts like:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of activities
  • Loss of consortium with a spouse

In a suit, your lawyer will demand a dollar figure for all of these past and projected damages. It’s up to a jury to decide a fair amount to award. The court may award punitive damages for the rideshare company’s especially egregious conduct.

Steps to Take Immediately After an Accident

What you do in the minutes, hours, and days right after an accident can significantly affect your ability to seek compensation.

Follow these key steps to safeguard your health and well-being as well as your legal rights to pursue a claim:

  • Get prompt medical attention: Nothing matters more than your health and safety. Even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, get checked out by a medical professional immediately. Many serious injuries aren’t obvious at first, but a doctor can identify them. Seeing a doctor immediately also documents that the accident caused your injuries. If you delay treatment, the insurer may argue you made your condition worse.
  • Report the accident to the police: Calling 911 and getting an official police report provides powerful documentation for your case. The police can investigate the scene, talk to witnesses, and document their findings. While the police report itself often isn’t admissible in court, it provides a useful starting point for your lawyer’s investigation and dealing with the insurer.
  • Gather evidence: If you are able, take photos and videos at the scene showing all vehicle damage, skid marks, your injuries, and road conditions. Get names and contact information for any witnesses. The Uber or Lyft driver’s information should be available in your ride history in the app.
  • Notify Uber or Lyft: Inform Uber or Lyft that you were involved in an accident during a ride. You can do this in the app or through their emergency hotline. They will likely reach out for more information. Be truthful but stick to the basic facts. Don’t editorialize, guess, or admit any fault.
  • Contact a rideshare accident attorney: This is the most important step. Start looking for an experienced rideshare accident attorney immediately, even from your hospital bed if needed. The sooner your lawyer can build your case and protect your rights, the better. Your lawyer can advise you on your options, communicate with insurers, and start getting you the compensation you deserve.

Get Help from an Experienced Rideshare Accident Lawyer Today

If an Uber or Lyft accident injured you or a loved one, don’t wait to take legal action. Contact Grife Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case. With our experienced team of personal injury attorney, you can focus on healing while we fight to hold the negligent parties accountable.