Contact a Phoenix Rideshare Accident Attorney Today to Discuss Your Legal Options
Odds are, even if you’ve never booked a ride in Phoenix through one of the online ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft, you’ve heard others talk about the convenience that comes from being able to summon a friendly, nearby driver who will take you to your desired location, all while being able to pay for the service automatically via a smartphone app. Alternatively, perhaps you’re part of the large group within Phoenix who still routinely use traditional taxicab services. In either case, have you stopped to think about how your life might be affected if you were injured in a traffic accident involving either a taxi or ridesharing service? There are a host of factors that should be considered and our Phoenix rideshare accident attorney is here to help you make sense of it all.
Taxi Services in Arizona: The Driver is Usually an Employee
First, take note that the business model for the traditional taxi service has been in place for more than 75 years. Because of that fact, the liability issues associated with taxicab accidents are relatively well-settled. Generally speaking, the cab driver is an employee of the cab company. He or she has typically completed some sort of background check before being allowed to drive the cab. The driver usually receives some training and is subject to discipline if expected standards are not followed and maintained.
Most important, Arizona’s public cab companies must maintain minimum liability insurance levels — typically $300,000 — to protect and compensate riders and others who may be injured due to the driver’s negligence. If you suffer injuries due to the negligence of a taxi cab driver, whether you are a passenger in the cab, or a driver or passenger in another vehicle, you can often use that insurance coverage for a personal injury recovery.
Ridesharing Drivers in Arizona Are Not Employees
Matters are somewhat different with ridesharing drivers. Generally speaking, an Uber or Lyft driver works for himself or herself; he or she is not an employee of the ridesharing company. That factor is important and our skilled rideshare accident lawyers know the difference cannot be overstated. Except in unusual circumstances, neither Uber nor Lyft are directly liable for the negligence of the drivers. The drivers operate independently. Both Uber and Lyft do, however, provide an umbrella of insurance coverage that may compensate passengers, drivers, and others following an auto accident.
Typical Uber/Lyft Insurance Coverage
While both Uber and Lyft complete at least a limited background check on drivers, there is little additional monitoring once the driver establishes his or her basic credentials. Both companies maintain liability insurance — usually up to $1 million — which generally covers the ridesharing driver from the moment he or she accepts the ride request via the smartphone app. This coverage continues until the driver discharges the passenger at the desired location. Coverage under other circumstances is a bit more complicated.
For example, if the driver has engaged his or her driving app and is waiting for a ride request, he or she is generally not covered under the Uber or Lyft $1 million policy. However, coverage is usually available through the driver’s personal automobile liability policy, but in almost all cases, the level of that protection is much smaller than what is provided by the Uber or Lyft policy.
If, however, the accident occurs after the driver has accepted the ride request, but before the driver has actually picked up the passenger, the Uber or Lyft policy typically does provide coverage. The same is true as long as the passenger is being transported inside the rideshare driver’s vehicle.
The rules are more complicated, however, if you are a driver or passenger in another vehicle that is involved in an accident with a Phoenix rideshare vehicle. Determining if you should seek monetary damages through the Uber or Lyft liability insurance “umbrella” policy will require a consultation with a Phoenix rideshare accident lawyer. Contact our office today.
What Type of Damages May be Recoverable in Arizona?
While the availability and level of damages vary according to the facts of the particular case, those who are injured as a result of the negligence of a ridesharing driver are typically entitled to recover for:
• Property damage to vehicles and, in some instances, the vehicle contents
• Medical expenses (both immediate and future costs)
• Rehabilitation expenses
• Loss of income during the time of recovery and rehabilitation
• Potential loss of future earnings based upon a permanent injury sustained in the accident
• Pain and suffering, including the emotion trauma associated with the accident and injuries
Steps to Take if You’re Involved in a Ridesharing Accident in Phoenix or Elsewhere
If you are involved in a ridesharing accident, what should you do? Generally speaking, you should follow the same procedure that you would follow if you were involved in an auto accident in your own private vehicle. You should:
• Immediately contact the police (the police report will be important later if you seek damages from the driver or anyone else)
• Call for an ambulance for any injured parties, even if the injuries appear to be minor
• Remain at the scene and do not leave until you have been released by the police or until you are transported to a medical facility
• Use your phone (to the extent that you are able) to take pictures of the vehicles, license plates, surroundings (including skid marks, or the lack thereof), and the damage to the vehicles or other property
• Use your phone, or pen and paper to record as many details of how the accident occurred, what you observed just prior to the crash, how you feel, etc.
• Write down the names, addresses and contact information from any witnesses at the scene
Once you have done all of that, you are encouraged to seek legal guidance from a knowledgeable Phoenix rideshare accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your rights.
Other Taxi and Ridesharing Liability
While occurrences are relatively rare, passengers and others have sometimes sustained other types of serious injuries at the hands of taxi and ridesharing drivers. For example, there have been reports in which the rideshare passenger was assaulted, and even raped, by the driver. Across the nation, there have been several other instances in which a rideshare rider was later stalked by an infatuated ridesharing driver.
To be sure, these sorts of incidents are not limited to those who drive for Uber or Lyft—some have involved taxi drivers—but riders should always remember that being picked up or dropped off at one’s personal residence creates a log of information that can be recorded and used at a later time or date. In Phoenix or anywhere else, it pays to be careful. If you were attacked or otherwise harassed by a driver, contact a Phoenix rideshare accident attorney as soon as possible for assistance.
Arizona Drivers Owe You a Duty. Contact a Phoenix Rideshare Accident Attorney Today For Help
Remember that an Uber, Lyft, or taxicab driver owes you a duty of reasonable care to prevent injury while you are being transported. If you have been injured in a ridesharing accident, or if someone in your family has experienced the pain and suffering associated with such an accident, you should consider getting experienced, caring assistance from an effective Phoenix rideshare accident lawyer like the ones at Hirsch & Lyon. We have years of experience and stand ready to assist you and your loved ones. Contact us today.