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 employment.

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.