Rideshare companies (also known as transportation network companies), like Uber and Lyft, offer quick and convenient transportation when it is needed most. They are often touted as cheaper and more advanced alternatives to taxis in most cities across the United States.
Atlanta residents rely on rideshares to get to work, medical appointments, and home after a night of drinking. Visitors to Atlanta rely on rideshares to transport them to and from the airport.
Unlike traditional taxi services, rideshare companies hire independent contractors who use their own cars. Uber requires that all drivers have a minimum of one year of licensed driving experience (three years if they are under 23.) They must also hold a valid U.S. driver's license and use a 4-door vehicle that passes a safety inspection.
Like all other motorists, Uber and Lyft drivers may behave negligently or recklessly. Some may drive aggressively or speed when they're in a hurry. Others may drive distracted, impaired, or drowsy. In rare cases, rideshare drivers may intentionally harm passengers.
Am I eligible to take legal action if I'm hurt in a rideshare accident?
If you are hurt in a rideshare crash — or other incident — it's unlikely that you will be able to take legal action against the company. That's because the drivers are classified as independent contractors and not employees. Technically, they work for themselves. An experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer can investigate the circumstance in which your injury occurred.
First, here's what you should expect.
Rideshare accidents when drivers are active
Rideshare companies provide liability insurance to drivers that apply to different circumstances. These are the rideshare insurance requirements under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 33-1-24):
- Third-party liability insurance while available or waiting for a ride request, including:
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury per crash
- $25,000 in property damage per crash
- Third-party liability insurance while en route to pick up passengers or during a trip, including:
- Liability insurance of $1 million
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury
- Contingent comprehensive and collision up to cash value of the vehicle, with deductibles of:
- $1,000 for Uber drivers
- $2,500 for Lyft drivers
This means that if you were injured in a rideshare crash — either as a passenger or other road user — you may be eligible to take legal action against the company. This is especially true if the company hired a driver with a dodgy driving history or a vehicle that failed to pass inspection.
Accidents when the driver wasn't logged into the app
If you were involved in a crash with a rideshare driver who was not transporting a passenger, not on the way to pick up a passenger, and was logged out of the app, you would pursue a claim against the driver and his or her own insurance carrier.
What should I do after a rideshare crash?
If you were involved in a rideshare crash, it's critical that you take action immediately and take your claim seriously from the start.
You may start by:
- Reporting the crash to the police
- Taking pictures of the crash scene, if you're able to
- Speaking to witnesses
- Reporting the crash to the rideshare company
- Reporting the crash to your own insurer (keep comments to a minimum)
Once you have completed those critical steps, you should always seek medical attention. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. can't stress this enough. Even if you feel OK after a crash, the shock and adrenaline at the moment can mask physical pain.
You may have sustained whiplash, a concussion, spinal injury, even a bone fracture. The pain and symptoms may not set in until days later. By getting an immediate medical evaluation, your doctor can identify your underlying injury and provide treatment to prevent it from worsening.
Your final, and most crucial, course of action should be to consult with an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer. You should never, under any circumstance, accept a settlement from a rideshare company or insurance carrier. By doing so, you may only receive a fraction of your medical expenses and lost wages. Furthermore, you may not be able to recover non-economic damages for pain, suffering, and loss of life enjoyment.
Don't hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays & Associates, P.C. for a free case evaluation. The sooner you get started, the better.