Are Uber & Lyft Liable for Negligence of their Drivers?
Uber/Lyft Driver Liability
Ridesharing has revolutionized personal travel. People are now able to get from one place to another with more convenience than before. Uber and Lyft are the two companies that have dominated the rideshare industry. They have allowed ordinary people to turn their privately owned vehicles into commercial transport vehicles. Nearly anyone with a driver’s license can become an Uber or Lyft driver. You don’t even have to own a car.
This has led to some problems with this model of private transportation. The lack of training and the weakness of quality assurance has allowed people who should not be on the road access to millions of passengers.
Uber and Lyft have seen the greatest expansion in the largest cities across the country. It is no coincidence, according to many experts, that those same cities have seen a rise in car accidents over the last decade.
The Rideshare Companies Are Still Responsible for Accidents Involving Their Drivers
The rideshare industry has been in public view quite a bit over the last few years. In the recent election, they won a ballot measure that allows them to designate the drivers who use their service independent contractors rather than employees. This has not changed their liability for accidents involving their drivers.
Anyone driving for Uber or Lyft must obey the rules of the road as stated in the California Vehicle Code. They must drive at a safe speed, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, and follow all lane-changing rules. Drivers should be well-rested, attentive and vigilant when on the road, and should not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Not all rideshare drivers adhere to the rules. In fact, like many other drivers, they can get distracted by speaking to passengers, focusing on GPS commands, or by a cell-phone. Driver distraction is the leading cause of traffic accidents. Speeding, following too close, and making dangerous lane changes are a few of the other common causes.
If any of these reckless moves led to the accident that caused your injury, you should hold the driver accountable, as well as the rideshare company. You will need to do so in cases where the rideshare driver’s insurance does not cover your medical bills and financial losses. The fact of the matter is that Uber and Lyft are responsible for the negligent drivers that work for them.
The company that the driver works for will try to claim that they do not employ them, and that they are therefore not liable for the car accident. The rideshare companies contend that they do no more than supply the technology needed by private drivers to hire themselves out. However, the California Public Utilities Commission has dismissed this claim. They have argued that Uber and Lyft require a license to act as a transportation provider and are thus transportation providers.
California courts have also ruled that rideshare drivers act as employees because they perform services for the direct benefit of Uber and Lyft, regardless of the formal work arrangements in place. The fact that Uber and Lyft take the time to inspect the vehicles used by their drivers, regulate and monitor the performance of their drivers, and disciplines and terminates drivers who fail to meet their standards make these drivers very much like employees.
No one knows how the law will change and courts will rule given the success of the ballot measure. Much of the controversy over the employee versus independent contractor issue had to do with wages, working condition, and other employee rights. The matter of holding these companies liable for accidents involving their drivers has not been fully fleshed out in law, but the courts and select public agencies have made their positions clear.
How to Fight for Your Compensation
Uber and Lyft offer passengers who have been injured in an accident involving one of their drivers up to a million dollars in compensation. It is not easy to get this money. Over the years, car crash accident attorneys have discovered just how difficult it is to receive a settlement from rideshare companies. Normally, they try to minimize the amount they must pay out and come up with excuses to deny claims or short change accident victims.
If you have been badly injured in a rideshare accident, company representatives may attempt to contact you while you recover to settle. They will offer you a low-dollar amount that you should not accept. In fact, you should refer them to specialized accident lawyers who strive to give you the best representation. This will help you avoid saying anything that can undermine your case.
Uber and Lyft accident lawyers know how to get the right amount of compensation for their clients. They will challenge the corporation’s central claim that it is not liable for the expenses associated with your injuries because it has independent contractors vs. employees. All of the various controls that the company has put into place to ensure the safety of its passengers will be brought into evidence. The fact that these measures failed to prevent the driver from acting recklessly behind the wheel will also be demonstrated.
Rideshare lawyers have the experience and expertise to build up a solid case against the company at fault. We have access to top field investigators who can pull video camera footage of the accident, track down witnesses and get background information on the driver. If they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol before the accident, your attorney will find out about it.
If you have been harmed in a car crash due to the negligence of an Uber or Lyft driver, then you should seek legal consultation for insight and counsel about your case.