Rideshare (Uber, Lyft, Sidecar) Accidents
Counsel from Our San Francisco Injury Lawyers
Ridesharing services offered by companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar
have gained enormous popularity in the Bay Area as convenient, lower-cost
alternatives to traditional taxis. These services are especially popular
in the busy cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.
However, along with their rise in popularity has come a rise in the number
of accidents involving ridesharing drivers. In fact, because ridesharing
drivers are often new at commercial driving, unfamiliar with the areas
they are driving, and distracted with a smart phone app, they may be more
likely to be involved in accidents than other drivers.
If you have been injured in an accident with a ridesharing driver, or while
a passenger in a ridesharing service, you will need San Francisco personal
injury attorneys who know how to navigate the problematic and changing
landscape of insurance and liability for ridesharing services. The team
at Walker, Hamilton, Koenig & Burbidge has the expertise and experience
to hold the companies at fault for your injuries accountable and ensure
you receive just compensation.
What are rideshare services?
Companies that offer ridesharing services, such as Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar,
provide car services that compete with taxis and other existing car services.
They are similar to many taxi services in that these companies do not
own, operate, or control their cars, nor do they hire their drivers directly.
The major differences between these new emerging companies and taxis and
traditional car services are their pricing structure and how customers
arrange a ride with rideshare companies.
Unlike taxis, a prospective passenger does not hail an Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar
driver on the street. Instead, a passenger must download the rideshare
app to their smartphone and arrange for a driver through that. Payment
is then completed via credit card processed through the app, with a service
fee, a mileage fee, and a tip included in the price.
Legal Issues Unique to Rideshare Services
As rideshare services have ushered in a new era of hired car services in
the Bay Area, they have also created unique legal issues. These issues
have been frequently discussed in the
New York Times,
Forbes, and other outlets, falling into two primary categories: insurance and
Insurance Issues With Rideshare Services
Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar require all of their drivers to have car insurance.
These companies also provide some additional coverage for their drivers
to supplement or supplant the drivers’ personal insurance policies.
However, the issue of what insurance coverage applies and how much coverage
is provided can become complicated by whether the Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar
driver was carrying a passenger, had accepted a passenger, or was waiting
for a new passenger. Insurance coverage issues can also be complicated
by the rideshare driver’s own personal insurance, as well as the
insurance of any other drivers involved in an accident. And because these
companies are still very new, their policies and procedures are evolving,
as are the regulations that govern them.
Unfortunately, all of these complexities can lead to gaps in insurance
coverage that leave people who have been injured by rideshare drivers
without access to adequate or fair compensation. These potential gaps
demonstrate how critical it is to consult with an injury lawyer in San
Francisco who is familiar with this developing and complex area of law.
Employment Issues with Rideshare Drivers
Another issue that is still unresolved is whether rideshare drivers are
employees of the companies they drive for or not. In legal terms, an employer
is usually liable for the acts of its agent or employee when that person
is acting in the “course and scope” of their agency or employment.
Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar do not consider their drivers to
be employees and therefore disavow liability for the drivers’ actions
unless the driver is actually on an active call at the time of an accident.
This potentially shields them from liability for accidents during the
times when drivers are using the rideshare app but do not have an active
call. The question of whether drivers who are between passengers can be
considered agents or employees of a rideshare company is currently being
litigated and may have tremendous impact on injury victims seeking compensation.
Experienced in Winning Serious Accident Cases—Call Us Today
Walker, Hamilton, Koenig & Burbidge has recovered millions of dollars
for clients who have been involved in serious car accidents over the years.
From San Jose to Oakland, we have represented clients in all types of
cases in the Bay Area. Our experienced car accident attorneys have the
knowledge necessary to handle the unique and changing laws governing ridesharing services.
If you have been injured by a rideshare driver, contact us for a
free consultation today.