For Orange County residents and visitors, Uber and Lyft have become easy ways to get around. These app-based rideshare services are easy and convenient.
But because they rely on independent contractors driving private vehicles, you may experience problems recovering for your injuries and damages if you’re involved in an accident involving Uber or Lyft.
We offer free consultations.
Types of Accidents Involving Uber and Lyft
With Southern California traffic growing ever worse, and drivers distracted by their smartphones, there are numerous types of traffic accidents.
The following are common occurrences involving Uber and Lyft:
- You were a passenger in an Uber or Lyft vehicle that got in an accident;
- An Uber or Lyft vehicle hit your car (or one in which you were a passenger);
- As a pedestrian, you were hit by an Uber or Lyft vehicle; or
- An Uber delivery driver hit you while on a food delivery run.
All of these instances may involve serious injuries and property damage. A Lyft and Uber accident lawyer in Orange County can help you figure out who is responsible for the associated costs.
Who Is Liable in an Accident Involving an Uber or Lyft Vehicle?
Accidents with rideshare drivers differ from those with individuals driving their personal or work vehicle.
What Happens in a “Normal” Car Accident
In a typical car accident, both parties report the incident to their insurance companies. If one party is clearly at fault, that party’s insurance company will cover the medical expenses and vehicle damage costs of the other party.
When both parties share some degree of blame, California law applies the comparative negligence rule. This means that each party is responsible for their percentage of fault in the accident. So if your Orange County Lyft accident lawyer sues the Lyft driver and Lyft, but you were jaywalking when the driver hit you, you will only recover the damages attributed to the Lyft driver’s percentage of fault. If the damages were $100,000 and the jury decides you were 30% to blame, then you would receive an award of 70% or $70,000.
What Makes an Accident With Uber or Lyft Different
When you’re in an accident with a driver who is on the job, a concept called respondeat superior applies. This legal doctrine holds employers legally and financially accountable for the harm their employees cause while they are working. So, for example, if a bakery employee hits you while driving the bakery’s bread truck, the bakery would be liable for your damages.
But currently, Uber and Lyft drivers are not employees of Uber and Lyft, so the respondeat superior doctrine does not apply to them. In November 2020, California voters approved Proposition 22, which defined app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors. The future of this law is uncertain, though.
In August of 2021, a superior court judge ruled that two sections of Proposition 22 were unconstitutional and that the measure as a whole was unenforceable. However, the State of California and supporters of Proposition 22 appealed that ruling. Uber and Lyft drivers continue to be classified as independent contractors while the appeal is pending.
Can I Recover Damages From Uber or Lyft?
Yes, but it’s a little more complicated because the drivers are independent contractors.
Automotive Insurance Policies
The good news is that both Lyft and Uber offer automotive insurance coverage for their drivers under certain circumstances. In fact, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requires them to do so. The CPUC classifies Uber and Lyft as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), which are entities that “provide prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform (such as smartphone apps) to connect drivers using their personal vehicles with passengers.”
When the driver’s app is on and lists the driver as available or waiting for a ride request, then Uber and Lyft maintain auto insurance offering the following coverage for a covered accident:
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person,
- $100,000 in bodily injury per accident, and
- $25,000 in property damage per accident.
This takes effect if the driver’s policy doesn’t apply.
If the driver is en route to pick up riders or has riders in the car, Uber’s and Lyft’s auto policies provide:
- $1,000,000 of third-party liability coverage,
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury, and
- Contingent comprehensive and collision coverage.
Uber provides the same coverage, except for the uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage, for its delivery drivers.
But let’s say one of these TNCs refuses to pay, and you have to hire an Orange County, California, attorney to sue Uber or Lyft. The rideshare company will claim they are not responsible because the driver is an independent contractor.
That’s where the assistance of an experienced Lyft and Uber accident attorney from Orange County is important. We know how to fight these arguments. For instance, Uber and Lyft may still be liable for negligent hiring or training these drivers. Or there may have been issues with the app’s reporting of the driver’s status. Our team will investigate your claim and fight for the recovery you deserve.
Why You Need an Experienced Uber and Lyft Accident Attorney From Orange County
It’s always essential to hire a seasoned attorney to fight for a full recovery for all of your medical expenses and property losses. But with the legal status of Uber and Lyft drivers in flux right now, it’s particularly vital that you choose a law firm familiar with rideshare cases.
With decades of experience and a track record of recovering some of the largest verdicts in California, attorney Mark Robinson has the knowledge to protect your rights. He has taken hundreds of cases to trial and is a four-time winner of the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award.