June 22nd, 2020|
Rideshare services have become perhaps the most common way to hail a ride. As of 2019, more than one-third of American adults had used a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber, more than double the percentage from 2015.
Judging by those numbers, rideshare services seem like they’re here to stay. That means we’ll inevitably see an increase in the number of crashes involving vehicles bearing the Lyft or Uber logo—and the person in the other vehicle could be you or someone you love.
This brings us to our topic of discussion: How can you sue a rideshare company after being involved in an accident?
The Complexity of Suing a Rideshare Company
This biggest issue when filing a rideshare accident lawsuit is whether you’re suing the driver of the vehicle or the company that backs them. Lyft and Uber drivers are considered contractors, which means they aren’t technically employees of the rideshare service they drive for.
There are several reasons rideshare companies don’t “hire” drivers, one of which is the issue of liability. By working with contractors instead of employees, companies like Lyft and Uber insulate themselves from accountability if their driver is involved in a crash—at least partially.
Who Exactly Are You Suing?
To determine who you should take legal action against, you’ll need to pay close attention to the details of your situation. If a rideshare driver isn’t actively working (meaning they’re off the clock) when the accident happens, you will likely file a lawsuit against the driver.
If a driver is working but has no passenger, you have more options available. The rideshare company might have an insurance policy that covers these situations, though the policy will likely pay out less than if the driver was actively transporting a passenger. In these cases, you could have the option of suing the driver or the company.
Once a rideshare driver has a passenger in the vehicle, the company that they have a contract with can be sued for the compensation you’re owed. This is true whether you’re the passenger in the rideshare vehicle or the driver of a vehicle involved in a collision with the rideshare vehicle.
Ultimately, these claims can quickly become more complex than the average vehicle accident case. You’re not only dealing with a driver, but the company they’re contracting for and either or both parties’ insurers.
We can tell you from experience that insurance companies aren’t quick to offer fair settlements. In many cases, they’ll offer a lowball settlement to eliminate the possibility of any claims. It’s important that you speak to an attorney to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of.
How to File a Lawsuit Against a Rideshare Service
To take legal action against a rideshare service, you’ll need to go through the traditional process of filing a lawsuit. This includes filing a complaint, serving the complaint to the defendant (the person you’re alleging fault against), waiting for their response, gathering evidence and building a case in the discovery phase, and settling the claim or going to trial, depending on the willingness of the defendant to comply with your demands.
This a very simplistic summary of what is asked of someone filing a personal injury claim. Each of these steps can quickly become more complicated if the defendant pushes back. Keep in mind that if you choose to go it alone in a lawsuit against a big company like Lyft or Uber, you’ll be up against a well-funded opponent who handles these types of cases regularly.
As attorneys who have handled many crash-related lawsuits against big companies, we strongly suggest you speak to an attorney as soon as possible after your crash. Avoid speaking to the representatives of any insurance company that isn’t your own. The sooner you have an advocate on your side to handle the insurance company, the better your chances of a successful outcome.
The Future of Rideshare Lawsuits
In May 2020, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in San Francisco County Superior Court against both Uber and Lyft. The lawsuit alleges that these companies are depriving workers of essential protections by misclassifying them as contractors instead of employees.
Depending on how this lawsuit plays out, the ways in which injured people can file claims against rideshare companies could change dramatically. In the meantime, it’s important for injured motorists not to accept initial offers from rideshare companies’ insurers without knowing what their claims are truly worth.
If You Need an Attorney Who Will Fight for You, Contact Us
At Berg Injury Lawyers, we’ve been standing up for injured motorists for nearly four decades. We deal firmly with insurance companies to make sure our clients get treated fairly. If you want to discuss the details of your case to find out your best path to compensation, schedule a free consultation with our Northern California auto accident attorneys.
Worried about our fees and whether you can afford them? Don’t be. We don’t get paid unless we win you money. Contact our team today for a free case assessment.