California Uber & Lyft Accident Injury Attorneys
The definition of “rideshare” in California is generally understood to mean car-for-hire services like Uber and Lyft. While these services do fall into that category, so do other situations.
Many people try to avoid the frustration of navigating traffic or they get a ride after having a few drinks. This makes services like Uber and Lyft very convenient and popular.
Just because you are getting a ride with Uber or Lyft doesn't mean you can't get involved in a traffic accident as the popularity of ridesharing adds to traffic congestion, which was already one of the worst in the United States.
The massive growth of Lyft and Uber in California has also led to a huge spike in rideshare accidents.
If you or a family member was injured in a rideshare crash, whether you are the driver, passenger, or pedestrian, you could be eligible for financial compensation.
Our rideshare accident lawyers will evaluate your case for free and represent your interests during settlement negotiations and any following litigation.
For more information, our Los Angeles personal law firm is providing an overview below.
Definition of Vehicle Code 522 Ridesharing
In the state of California, “Ridesharing” is defined under the California Vehicle Code Section 522 as "two or more persons traveling by any mode, including, but not limited to, carpooling, vanpooling, bus pooling, taxi pooling, jitney, and public transit."
An issue with ridesharing accidents is that multiple parties are involved, including:
- The driver,
- Other vehicles,
- Insurance providers,
- Third-party companies like Uber and Lyft.
Thus, the process of determining who may be liable for an accident becomes convoluted.
Another problem encountered in rideshare-for-hire scenarios is the question of when the accident occurred. Did it happen while the driver had a passenger in the car or at some other point?
Common Causes of Uber and Lyft Accidents in Los Angeles
As noted, services like Uber and Lyft have gained gain popularity in Los Angeles County, meaning the number of car accidents causing injuries has also increased.
Some of the most common causes for ridesharing accidents include the following:
- Unsafe lane change,
- Improper turning,
- Distracted driving,
- Driving while high on marijuana
- Driving under the influence,
- Defective vehicles or equipment,
- Bad weather/limited visibility,
- Bad road conditions.
What Steps Should I Take After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
The first step of filing a personal injury claim begins at the scene of the car crash.
If you were involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, there are some steps you should take to increase the chances of receiving a fair settlement.
- Call the police and ask for medical assistance if necessary;
- Ask for insurance information from all drivers in the accident;
- Collect witness information, including phone numbers;
- Take pictures of driver's licenses and license plates;
- Take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles, traffic signs, and property damage;
- Write down details of the accident and weather conditions;
- Make doctor's appointments immediately.
If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault while driving for Uber, they have a bad reputation for how they treat their drivers.
With the passage of California Assembly Bill 5, Uber can't avoid any financial responsibility for driver injuries in accidents by claiming they were not an employee, but only an independent contractor.
California Car Accident Laws
Not all states are alike in the laws that govern car accident liability and compensation. California is an “at-fault” state, meaning that those involved in an accident cannot recoup personal injury insurance regardless of fault.
When those participating in ridesharing are involved in an auto accident, they can still bring personal injury lawsuits, but they may face more difficult compensation hurdles dictated by the financial health of the party at fault.
When multiple parties are responsible for a car accident, each will be required to pay a percentage that correlates to the degree they are liable for the wreck.
At a minimum, private motorists must carry insurance under California Vehicle Code 16451, which covers the following:
- $15,000 for death or bodily injury for one person
- $30,000 for death or bodily injury for more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
The laws governing for-profit rideshare require drivers to have additional insurance, however.
When and how you're involved in an accident with one of these drivers will matter when it comes to their insurance compensation limits.
California For-Profit Rideshare Insurance Requirements
Transporting riders for profit is excluded from traditional car insurance policies.
As such, California has enacted laws to ensure that those injured by a driver for a Transportation Network Company (TNC) such as Uber or Lyft have more access to insurance reimbursement.
The state differentiates between three separate periods of the vehicle's operation while the driver is working for the for-profit car service. These stages are:
- Period 0,
- Period 1,
- Period 2,
- Period 3.
Period 0 is classified as the time when the driver's rideshare app is off. During this time, the driver is subject to California's minimum insurance requirement described above.
Period 1 occurs when the rideshare app is on, but the driver has not yet been paired with a passenger. During Period 1, the insurance requirements are:
- $50,000 for death or bodily injury for one person,
- $100,000 for death or bodily injury for more than one person,
- $25,000 for property damage.
Period 2 is the timeframe between when the driver was paired with the passenger, but the passenger has not yet entered the vehicle, and Period 3 occurs when the passenger is in the vehicle.
During both Period 2 and Period 3, the rideshare company is required by California law to cover drivers with a $1 million liability policy.
California Vehicle Code 5430 VC requires rideshare companies to carry a minimum of $1 million in premiums for personal injury, death, and property damage caused in an accident when a rideshare driver is on duty.
What are the Common Injuries?
Injuries resulting from rideshare accidents can be severe and obvious, or they can be subtle and difficult to detect right away. The most common types of car wreck injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Injury caused by airbags,
- Broken ribs from the seatbelt restraints,
- Knee injury,
- Broken bones.
Some of the injuries described above, such as traumatic brain injuries, will affect a victim for the rest of their life, resulting in lost earning potential and a severe degradation in the quality of life.
In addition to these physical traumas, many injured in vehicle accidents also suffer from emotional distress.
Who Can You Sue After You're Injured?
You must target the appropriate defendants when you claim to recoup after you've been injured in a car accident.
Sometimes wrecks are caused by negligent or reckless driving, and there could be a question regarding the ride-share driver's overall suitability behind the wheel.
If the TNC demonstrated gross negligence in approving a driver for their service, then that company violated an obligation to public safety and should be held accountable.
If you are injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, you could sustain serious or life-threatening injuries.
Under California law, any party who contributed to the cause of an accident can be held financially responsible for your injuries.
Determining what caused your accident is obliviously crucial in determining who is at fault. The following parties might be held responsible for ridesharing accident injuries:
- Ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar,
- Rideshare service drivers if they were negligent,
- Third-parties such as bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians.
What Compensation Can I Receive After an Uber or Lyft Accident?
The compensation you may be entitled to receive after an accident caused by a rideshare driver includes present and future medical expenses, present and future loss of income, and property damage. Let's take a closer look below.
Under California law, victims of an accident are legally entitled to compensatory damages for their injuries.
In a few rare cases, they could be punitive damages if somebody inflicted intentional harm or exhibited extreme recklessness.
Put simply, you need an experienced rideshare accident injury lawyer to have the best chance at maximizing compensation.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you could be awarded two types of damage compensation:
Economic damages – these awards are intended to compensate a victim for out-of-pocket expenses that are directly related to their injuries, such as:
- Medical bills,
- Lost income,
- Loss of earning capacity,
- Property damage.
Non-economic damages – these awards are much harder to determine because they are subjective, but they include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma,
- Losses for physical impairment,
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
California has no cap on the amount of compensation a victim can be awarded in a personal injury case.
However, it is a comparative fault state meaning if you were partially to blame for the rideshare accident, then the award will be subtracted a certain percentage of the blame.
The time limit to file a personal injury claim is called the “statute of limitations.” In California, it's two years from the date of the rideshare accident.
If a state or municipal vehicle was involved in the rideshare accident, then you only have 6 months to file a personal injury claim.
Personal Injury Lawyer for Rideshare Accidents
If you've been injured in an accident involving rideshares, such as Uber or Lyft, then you should contact our injury lawyers to review the details.
Handling rideshare accidents are more complex because there are normally several parties involved.
Don't make the mistake of thinking these rideshare companies have your best interest in mind. We will handle all the communications, including the insurance companies.
We can determine who is liable for your injuries and how much your case is worth.
The insurance companies will attempt to take advantage of you without proper legal representation.
Injury Justice Law Firm has two office locations in Los Angeles County. Contact us for a free case consultation at (818) 781-1570.