Protecting the Rights of Passengers in Rideshare Vehicles Hit by Drunk Drivers
According to a study released during the Coronavirus shutdown, San Antonio ranks as #1 in the highest number of drunk driving arrests in the United States during the ten-year period from 2009-2018. According to FBI data, during that period, our city ran up a total of 77,357 drunk-driving arrests, which places us just ahead of Los Angeles at #2 and New York, at #4. This is an unfortunate statistic for our city and especially for those impacted by a drunk driver. We know that this can greatly alter lives in an instant. While rideshares like Uber and Lyft have become an important option in decreasing the number of drunk drivers on the road, sometimes riding in one doesn’t offer complete protection from others who do not make the smart choice of staying away from the driver’s seat while drinking. Even those being responsible and taking a ride share can be a victim of drunk driving.
We have seen an uptick in the number of rideshare vehicles hit by drivers who are under the influence. This makes senses since there are just more on the roadways. In these cases, you may have a claim against only the other driver. You may also have a claim against the rideshare driver and/or company. Either way, it is critical to make sure that all avenues are explored to make sure you are fully compensated and the wrongdoers are held accountable.
The Auto Accident World Has Changed
It is undeniable that, by now, ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber, have forever changed how Americans get from one place to another. These companies have made getting from one place to another more convenient and often less expensive than riding in a taxi. The have provided many regular Americans with a way to use their car to make a few extra bucks on the side.
Every day, millions of people use Uber, Lyft or some other rideshare service to get to their destination and thankfully, almost all of them get there safely without complication. However, what happens when an Uber or Lyft driver is involved in a DUI accident while driving you around as a passenger? What if you’re in a rideshare vehicle when a drunk driver hits you? What are your options?
The first thing you should know is that the biggest rideshare players, Uber and Lyft, are both very much aware that accidents could happen and have taken some precautions. Both companies carry substantial insurance policies in order to pay out accident claims. Over the years, passengers, other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists and many others have received Uber accident settlement amounts that pay for all their medical care and other damages caused by an accident involving a negligent Lyft or Uber driver.
If Injured in an Accident with a Lyft or Uber Driver, Can You Sue?
The fact that you were injured while in an Uber or Lyft does not change what your rights are as an injured party. If someone was at fault, you have the right to sue to seek compensation for your injuries. Of course, you can’t expect that getting a settlement will be as easy as simply reporting the accident to the company or the other party’s insurance. As with any other accident, especially if you are injured, you need an experienced and knowledgeable accident lawyer by your side to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Depending on the facts of the collision, you may have a claim only against the other driver. However, you may also have a claim against the rideshare company. None of the insurance companies will readily pay. Insurance companies only make money by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible when someone makes a claim. Therefore, to expect an insurance company to happily cut you a check for what you deserve is never as easy as that. You will be required to prove your case on liability and damages. When it involves a drunk driver, you may also have to prove punitive damages.
If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle and were injured when you were hit by a drunk driver, it is important to figure out the insurance coverages of the drunk driver’s vehicle first. Once you determine that, you will have to determine whether or not it is enough to fully compensate you for you damages. When there is not enough coverage by the third party’s insurance, you may have a claim under the rideshare’s UM/UIM policy. At Hill Law Firm, we have a lot of experience in pursuing claims under those coverages to fully satisfy our client’s damages.
This is What Uber and Lyft’s Insurance Covers
Uber and Lyft both carry addition insurance coverage for their drivers. The amount of insurance depends on if they have a passenger, are on their way to get a passenger or are just driving around awaiting a fare. When drivers have accepted a passenger and are either on their way to get them or have them in their car, their insurance coverage is much higher. Their liability coverage and UM/UIM coverage is higher when either of those two things is true.
If you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft hit by a drunk driver, the higher level of UM/UIM coverage will be in effect. Therefore, if you were hit by a drunk driver who did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance, Uber or Lyft has UM/UIM coverages that apply. If your rideshare driver was also at fault for the crash, then their liability policy may also apply. There are a lot of questions that must be answered to determine what all coverages apply to any scenario.
When You’re in an Accident as a Passenger in an Uber/Lyft, What Should You Do?
As previously stated, being a passenger in a ride share hit by a drunk driver does not change your rights. Here’s what everyone should do after any car accident, but including when the accident involves a rideshare company:
- Seek immediate medical attention – Following an Uber or Lyft accident, you should immediately see a doctor and undergo a thorough medical evaluation, even if a paramedic at the crash scene looked you over and treated you or you think you feel fine. Never make the mistake of assuming your injuries aren’t serious enough to see a doctor. You need an official medical record that describes your injuries in detail.
- If you’re able, take pictures at the scene: Documenting the damage to your car, yourself, and the other party involved can be helpful. Only do so if you are physically able. Always seek medical attention first if needed.
- Don’t speak to insurance companies or accept a settlement – One method insurance companies use to try to limit their payouts is by making quick settlement offers to accident victims. They call this “swoop and settle”. They try to catch injured people before they have spoken to an attorney. If an adjuster is at your door with a check just after the accident, that’s a bad sign. If you accept that settlement, it becomes virtually impossible to recover any additional compensation. You cannot go back and seek more money if you are later unsatisfied. You do not have to speak to the insurance company before consulting a lawyer. They do not have your best interest in mind.
- Stay off social media – If you have been injured in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, avoid the temptation to post any information about it, no matter how innocent you think it may seem. The best practice is to not post anything at all, even if it’s not related to the accident. Those posts are public, and insurance companies can and will use social media posts against you during the negotiations for your Uber or Lyft accident settlement. Even the simplest of posts can be used by the insurance company to contradict a claim you’re making in your accident. Social media can’t really help your case, but it can damage it, so stay away.
- Call a lawyer as soon as possible – If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber driver, get an experienced Uber or Lyft accident lawyer immediately.
Finding the Right Attorney is the Key to Your Uber or Lyft Accident
Dealing with insurance companies can be brutal and can feel demoralizing. Fighting a claim on your own by going through Uber or Lyft, or the other driver’s personal insurance company, can be overwhelming. It’s a good idea to keep in mind that everyone you will be up against will have an army of lawyers and plenty of incentive to pay you as little as possible. Getting an experienced Uber or Lyft car accident attorney like those at Hill Law Firm to fight for your rights under the law will bring you greater peace of mind than trying to do it all on your own. We know how to deal with insurance companies in a way that brings the best possible accident settlement for your case.
Don’t settle for the first lawyer you find. Do your research. You want someone with the ability to take on a billion-dollar corporation like Lyft or Uber and their billion-dollar insurance carrier and the skill to get the highest possible settlement. At the Hill Law Firm, we have experienced Uber and/or Lyft Accident Lawyers who will walk you through the process after an accident. Victims of drunk driving accidents involving those companies need a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney on their side to make them whole again.
If you were injured by an intoxicated Uber/Lyft driver, call us today for a free consultation at 210.960.3939. We are here to help.