Ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber make it easier for an individual to get from one place to another without waiting for a cab. These types of vehicles can be involved in car accidents and lawsuits like any other car accident involving two or more vehicles.
However, determining the party at fault may be confusing when the vehicle involved in an accident is a ride-sharing service.
Do Drivers Have Any Liability to Passengers in the Car?
A driver may have liability to the passengers in their vehicle based on two legal theories: guest passenger status and non-guest passenger status. Some states have automobile guest statutes that prohibit passengers of a vehicle from suing the driver for injuries suffered in an accident.
Guest statutes only apply to non-paying passengers. Therefore, these types of laws will not apply to individuals who are passengers in:
- Buses; or
- Other public transit.
Non-guest passenger laws govern paying passengers on common carriers or public transportation. In certain situations, common carriers may avoid liability.
For the most part, however, a common carrier and a public transportation entity will both have a duty of safety to their passengers.
Are Passengers in a Carpool or Share-the-Ride Automobile Guests?
No general rules govern automobile passengers in a share-the-ride or carpool arrangement. These passengers are treated as being between an automobile guest and a paying passenger.
Courts will commonly analyze the circumstances of each individual case to determine the status of the passengers, including several factors, such as:
- The purpose of the arrangement;
- If there was an enforceable agreement;
- Whether compensation was paid; and
- The relationship between the parties.
Courts have held that if the purpose of a carpool is social or if a driver desires to assist a passenger, that passenger may be classified as a guest. However, if the motivation of the arrangement is for the material benefit of both parties, a passenger may not be considered a guest.
Courts have considered whether there was a formal agreement for transportation as a factor in determining whether a passenger in the carpool is a guest under the applicable guest statutes. Courts, however, have not been consistent regarding whether an enforceable contract between the parties is required to prohibit the passengers from suing the driver.
Generally, when a passenger pays a monetary fee, a guest statute will not apply. It is important to note that a fee does not have to be paid in the form of money or a cash equivalent.
If the parties involved have a close relationship outside of the carpool or share-the-ride arrangement, it tends to show that the passenger was a guest.
Who Will Pay for Injuries if I am Injured in a Ride-sharing Service Vehicle?
A ride-sharing service typically has commercial liability insurance to cover injuries and accidents in its vehicles. Certain states, such as California, require each ride-sharing service company to carry this automobile insurance.
Who Will Pay for My Injuries if a Ride-sharing Driver Hits My Car?
If an individual is driving a vehicle and gets into an accident with a ride-sharing vehicle, determining liability may be a little tougher. Ride-sharing companies generally cover drivers when they are on the clock.
This means when the driver is driving a passenger to their destination or riding to pick up a passenger. In those situations, the company’s insurance provider will most likely pay for injuries suffered.
However, if a driver is not working for the ride-sharing company at the time of the accident, then the question will be whether the driver was negligent or not.
What is Negligence?
Negligence, in the context of a car accident, refers to fault. When a driver is negligent, they act in a way that disregards their duty to drive safely.
This failure to avoid harm caused harm to the other parties involved. Negligence has four elements a plaintiff must show, including:
- Duty of care;
- Breach of duty;
- Causation; and
If the Ride-sharing Service Driver is at Fault, can I Sue Him or Her?
If a ride-sharing service driver is at fault for an automobile accident, the victim can sue the driver. Ride-sharing service companies typically require their drivers to have their own personal automobile insurance.
What if I was Walking When I was Struck by a Ride-sharing Service Driver?
If an individual was struck by a ride-sharing service driver while walking, it would depend on which party is liable for the accident and if the driver was on the clock at the time of the accident.
What Type of Damages Can I Recover in an Auto Accident Lawsuit?
If an individual is involved in an automobile accident, there are two major categories of damages that an individual may recover in automobile accident lawsuits: compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damage is a monetary award paid by the negligent driver to the occupants of the other vehicle to compensate them for their losses resulting from the accident. This category of damages is meant to cover the losses from an automobile accident which can be proven, including:
- The cost to repair or replace the automobile that was damaged in the accident;
- In some cases, this includes the cost of renting a replacement auto while repair work is done;
- An individual who a negligent driver injures could expect to receive damages to cover the costs of medical care, which is meant to cover costs associated with:
- hospital stays; or
- If an individual who is injured in an automobile accident can no longer do their job; as a result, they may be compensated for their future lost wages; and
- An injured driver or passenger can request compensation for the pain and suffering related to the accident.
It may also be possible for a victim to obtain compensation for the losses the injured individual may experience. For example, if the victim can no longer work at the same job as they did before their accident.
An injured party sometimes requires long-term care in a nursing or other facility. The negligent driver may also be required to pay for this long-term care.
Obtaining these damages may require an expert who can provide a reliable estimate of the amount of the injured party’s future losses. Contact an experienced lawyer if you have questions about the damages that might be available in a ride-sharing injury lawsuit.
Can a Lawyer Help Me Determine Liability?
If you have been involved in an automobile accident involving a ride-sharing service driver, it is important to consult with a local car accident lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can help determine what party is liable and fight for money to resolve your claim.
Automobile accident cases involve numerous complex legal issues that an attorney is best equipped to resolve. Having an attorney on your case is your best chance at receiving compensation for your claim and ensuring your rights are protected.
It is very common for automobile accidents to settle outside of the courtroom. Your lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company and ensure you receive proper compensation.
Insurance companies typically want to pay you the least amount possible for your injuries and are trained to negotiate as such. Thus, it’s important to have a lawyer on your side helping you with negotiations.