As ridesharing becomes a bigger part of the nationwide economy, more contract drivers choose to drive part-time for ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber.
As a result, more Uber and Lyft accidents occur every day throughout the state of California. But even as ridesharing accidents become more frequent, this doesn’t mean ridesharing law is necessarily keeping up with its own demographics.
Ridesharing law is the newest, most complicated and still-evolving aspect of traffic law in California. Here, it doesn’t help that California is one of the strictest states in the nation when it comes to traffic law in general.
Because of this, many victims of Lyft accidents discover only too late that submitting their claim and receiving reimbursement for their injuries and damages isn’t going to be nearly as easy as they had expected or hoped.
In many cases, Lyft accident victims only receive just compensation after retaining the services of an experienced Lyft accident lawyer to negotiate on their behalf.
In this post, learn the reasons why ridesharing claims are so complicated and find out the exact steps to take after a Lyft accident has occurred to protect yourself.
Why Are Ridesharing Accident Claims So Difficult and Complicated?
There are several factors that create difficult when navigating the claims and reimbursement process for ridesharing accident victims.
California is a “fault” state.
The first reason relates to how California treats insurance claims. California is one of a handful of states in the nation that is a “fault” state when it comes to insurance payouts. This means that when an accident occurs, the “at fault” party will be on the hook for most or all of the claims expenses.
A driver can be declared not at fault, partially at fault or fully at fault. The portion of insurance claims expenses that driver’s insurer bears will relate back to the driver’s degree of fault, if any.
Ridesharing drivers are contractors.
The second reason stems from the status of ridesharing drivers. They are contractors, not employees of the ridesharing company. This means that even if the ridesharing company does have an insurance policy to protect passengers, it is only relevant during certain time periods in a Lyft driver’s shift.
For example, when the Lyft driver turns off the ridesharing app to go to lunch or go off shift, they are only protected by their own personal/commercial auto insurance policy, if any.
When the Lyft driver turns on the ridesharing app to seek a fare, most ridesharing companies have a limited liability policy that kicks in to protect others if the driver gets into an accident.
It is only after the Lyft driver has picked up a passenger and is en route to the destination that the full auto insurance policy is activated. However, here again, just because the policy is in force doesn’t mean you will be able to successfully place a claim against it.
Ridesharing law is a moving target at this point.
Because ridesharing drivers are contractors and not employees of the ridesharing company itself, this means the ridesharing company does not require them to take any mandatory driver safety coursework or maintain a specific level of personal commercial auto insurance.
This lack of oversight at the corporate level leaves passengers, other drivers and bystanders particularly vulnerable if an accident occurs that involves a Lyft driver.
One or several auto insurers may end up being involved. There may be several different interested parties actively trying to assign blame, duck blame or shift blame for causing the auto accident.
Each party may have their own ridesharing accident lawyer in Los Angeles representing their interests. On top of this, each case has the potential to set new precedents for how future ridesharing accident claims cases are handled and resolved.
Finally, only a small handful of attorneys have the necessary background, knowledge, training and expertise to handle these uniquely difficult cases.
What to Do First and Next After a Lyft Accident
After you have been involved in a Lyft accident, you may feel understandably traumatized. Yet it is vital to act quickly and take these key steps as soon as it is safe to do so.
The first step to take is to call the police and 911. This will ensure you get a full legally admissible accident report you can give to your ridesharing accident lawyer in Los Angeles. It will also ensure you get prompt and complete medical attention.
Once you have made these calls, start documenting everything to the best of your ability. Get the Lyft driver’s contact information, license plate number, driver license number and auto insurance information. Photograph the Lyft vehicle, any other vehicles and the immediate surroundings.
Make a video and narrate everything you can recall about what happened just prior to, during and after the accident. This may be especially difficult if you were a ridesharing passenger involved in a Lyft accident, since ridesharing passengers often are not paying close attention to what is occurring on the road during their trip.
However, try to recall everything you can. The same holds true if you were another driver or a bystander who is involved in a ridesharing accident. Be sure to get information from any witnesses who may have seen the incident occur. Ask witnesses if you can have their contact information and give this to your Lyft accident lawyer to follow up.
Also exchange information with anyone else who may have been involved in the ridesharing accident, including other drivers, passengers and bystanders. Keep these interactions as brief and polite as you can to avoid inadvertently saying or doing something that may later be viewed as an admission of guilt.
After you have taken care of these tasks, call Lyft and report the accident and open an insurance claim. Just because Lyft handles your claim at the beginning, however, don’t make the mistake of assuming you are in the clear. After the accident assessment when fault is assigned, many passengers, bystanders and other drivers and their insurers find themselves saddled with the financial burden of the claim itself.
If this happens to you, contact your Lyft accident lawyer immediately. Don’t wait and hope the issue will resolve itself over time. Just because ridesharing is lucrative and ridesharing companies are posting big stock dividends doesn’t mean they will be eager to pay out on an insurance claim. Even having a general knowledge of traffic law in California often isn’t sufficient to quickly and successful resolve ridesharing accident claims.
In the hours and days to come, keep documenting everything you remember. Pay special attention to how your body feels, as often injuries like back pain and whiplash will only be felt hours later or even the next morning.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Your Ridesharing Claims Legal Expert
If you have been involved in a Lyft accident, you are likely already discovering just how complex and confusing the claims process can be.
Here at West Coast Trial Lawyers, we have the education, training and practical expertise to successfully resolve ridesharing accident claims. Give us a call today to get your claim resolved quickly and in full.