You just sat in your ride-share car and are on your way to the airport where you will take a flight to another U.S. city in a couple hours. Traffic is light, you are perfectly on time for clearing airport security, even get your morning java while waiting for your plane…
Circumstances of the car accident
Suddenly, coming from your right another car hit your cab sideways and puts it in a tailspin. Loud crash, screeching noise of tires and brakes, thud of a hard stop against the curb, your neck goes right-left-right in a split second. Then a moment of standstill. Nothing moves.
While you gather your wits in the backseat, your driver comes out of the car. You open your door and also come out. … You are both shocked but alive and not bleeding. Just slightly dizzy. And your neck hurts somewhat.
You are now a witness on the scene of an accident, your rideshare is obviously totalled, and the police is arriving. Forget catching your flight. The paramedics arrive on the scene, and take a look at your neck. You need X-rays or a CAT scan.
Consequences of the car accident
Here is your new predicament:
- You missed your flight, with financial consequences for your business.
- X-rays and medical examination revealed a problem with a disk due to a compression of the spine, you are in for surgery and post-op care. Pain, disruption of your life, financial burdens.
- You will miss days of work: additional financial consequences.
Who’s going to pay for all this? Even if you believe in karma, nothing that happened to you that morning is your fault. Wrong place, wrong time. Why would your medical insurance be involved… with a foreseeable increase in premiums down the road?
You turn to a personal injury attorney for advice. What to do?
At Hameroff Law Firm, we take the first move: your personal injury attorney will act immediately to indicate your intention to sue. This preemptive move is dictated by both legal and tactical considerations.
From a legal standpoint, your lawyer wants to make sure all accident data is preserved by the ride-share company: the Police report gathered all or most evidence but the GPS of your driver holds other data that will likely become crucial during the investigation (position of the car, time of the shock, speed of your car, etc.)
Insurance adjusters and experts will evaluate the position and speed of the other car too, and try to determine responsibilities.
From a trial standpoint, a personal injury lawyer knows that filing early is telling a jury that their client knew there would be burdensome financial consequences to this event. It also tells the jurors that suing the parties involved is not an after-thought motivated by greed. “Greed is not good” in the eyes of a jury of your peers.
Who to sue?
Your attorney will go after (a) your driver, (b) the other driver and (c) probably the employer of the latter if he was on duty at the time of the accident or if he was driving a company car.
Your ride-share driver is likely to carry some insurance, but his insurance policy may or may not fully cover your financial prejudice.
Uber’s website states:
“Drivers are covered by their own insurance when they are offline. As soon as a driver accepts a trip, until it concludes, they are protected by a commercial automobile insurance policy with $1 million of liability per incident.
In addition, Uber’s policy offers $1 million uninsured/under-insured motorist bodily injury coverage to all occupants of the ride-share vehicle in the event another motorist causes an accident without adequate insurance (i.e. a hit-and-run).
If a ride-sharing driver’s own policy includes comprehensive and collision insurance, Uber’s policy covers physical damage to the vehicle that occurs during a trip up to its actual cash value, with a $1,000 deductible.
During the time that a ride-sharing driver is available but between trips, most personal auto insurance will provide coverage. However, if the driver does not have applicable coverage, Uber maintains a policy that covers the driver’s liability for bodily injury up to $50,000/individual/accident with a total of $100,000/accident and up to $25,000 for property damage.” (Source: https://newsroom.uber.com/227972/)
Lyft’s website states (to the benefit of their drivers):
“Our primary liability insurance is designed to act as the primary coverage from the time you accept a ride request until the time the ride has ended in the app. The policy has a $1,000,000 per accident limit. Note: If you already carry commercial insurance (or personal coverage providing specific coverage for ride-sharing), Lyft’s policy will continue to be excess to your insurance coverage.” (Source: https://help.lyft.com/hc/en-us/articles/115013080548#duringride).
So both ride-share companies have insurance policies in place that will be called into play by your attorney in case the own insurance policy of your driver does not cover the costs you incur due to this accident.
Whether or not the ride-share companies and their insurance would in that case gracefully come to your rescue is not guaranteed at all. Your personal injury attorney will make sure his ducks are in a row, proper evidence gathered and available at hand, and proper paperwork filed correctly and on time to preserve all your chances to get the best possible settlement for your pain, suffering and other inconvenience.
If you have been hit by an under-insured motorist, your attorney is very likely to sue the employer of that motorist if he was on duty when the accident occurred. Your medical bills and the loss of wages may be much too great to be fully covered by the above-mentioned insurance policies.
Both Lyft and Uber have policies in place to cover some of your costs not covered by the insurance of an under-insured motorist at fault in the situation. Your driver will probably have this coverage too, as part of his contract with the ride-share company. Worthy of note, it seems Lyft’s insurance will cover much more than Uber’s insurance policy.
Again, your personal injury attorney will sort out who is likely to pay what, and whom to recover from.
Because of the number of parties involved in such a case, and because of the potential long-term consequences on your health of a brutal car accident, we do not recommend to settle quickly with your driver’s insurance company. We don’t even recommend to settle directly with the insurance companies of Uber or Lyft.
When does any insurance company volunteer to cover ALL your costs, expenses and prejudice? NEVER.
It is vital to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney because he knows how to deal with insurers, and know what paperwork needs to be handled and the procedures that have to be followed.
Bottom line: If you are the victim of such a car accident, call a personal injury attorney early on. If you are able to take photos of the scene, photos of the drivers and the license plates, and note the time of the crash, this will make your attorney’s life a bit easier and your case a little bit stronger.
If you are in the Tucson metro area when you are the victim of a car accident in a ride-share, don’t hesitate to call personal injury attorney David Hameroff or Martha Morales at (520) 792-4700 for advice in this difficult situation. We’ll ask you the right questions and quickly get to work to help you efficiently.
About the authors:
The Hameroff Law Firm has defended victims of car accidents or trucking accidents for over 20 years in Tucson and neighboring cities (Vail, Marana, Green Valley, etc). We specialize in personal injury law.