Had a RideShare Accident in California? Here are the steps you need to take
Millions of rideshare vehicles share the road with regular vehicles; hence they are exposed to car accidents more commonly than you think. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft are taking a significant share of passenger traffic. Though Uber and Lyft implement vetting processes to qualify drivers, there are still instances when they are involved in accidents. If you happen to find yourself in an accident involving rideshare vehicles in California, whether as a passenger, as a pedestrian, or in another car hit by one, here are the steps you need to take.
What to Do When an Accident Happens Involving Rideshare Vehicles?
Once you take a ride in a Lyft or an Uber vehicle, it is unlikely that you will be thinking of steps you need to take in case an accident happens. As a passenger, treating the accident situation similarly as you treat any car accident is a correct move. However, it is helpful that you understand how complicated the claims process and responsibility are when a rideshare vehicle is involved in an accident. As you read on, there is more to a rideshare accident and making claims after being in one.
1. Call the Police
Getting crucial details about an accident is essential in building a solid case to make your injury claim, especially if the accident involves an Uber or a Lyft vehicle. In California, it is imperative to report an accident, whether or not severe injuries happened. Failing to do so may result in criminal charges, especially for hit-and-run cases. However, reporting the accident to the police and ensuring they investigate it will benefit you in more ways.
The results of their investigation provide reliable data that you can use when making your insurance claim. It is also helpful to report the accident through your rideshare app if you are a passenger in a vehicle.
2. Gather Evidence and Document As Much as Possible and Report the Accident Immediately to Your Insurance Company
Gathering evidence is critical when making your claims. Aside from the evidence you can collect from the scene, you need to gather and document various types of evidence in the days and weeks following the accident. At the accident scene, take photos and videos of everything around the site as soon as it is safe to do so. Don’t forget to take pictures of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, skid marks, debris, license plate numbers, and more. Take note of as many eyewitnesses as possible and write down contact information from them. More importantly, take a screenshot of your rideshare app related to the ride that was involved in the accident.
As in any vehicle collision case, gathering the following information is essential:
- Driver’s first and last name
- License Plate number
- Driver’s contact information
- Vehicle registration
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon so they can help with the investigation. Your insurance company will coordinate with the driver’s insurance company and initiate the claims process. Your insurance will establish liability once the claims process is underway. They will determine who was at fault.
However, where the uninsured motorist coverage is triggered through your own auto policy, you’ll seek compensation from your car insurance company. In that case, the carrier will use whatever you tell them against you to reduce the money they pay out. This is why you should consult with a personal injury lawyer and let them handle the claims process on your behalf.
3. Seek Medical Attention
Your health and safety are your priority. Any person involved in a car accident, including those involving rideshare vehicles, needs medical attention as soon as possible, no matter how minor the injuries appear. A doctor is a best-placed professional that can determine if injuries are severe. Moreover, it is imperative that you don’t waste any time when you seek medical attention because insurance companies will look into the time gaps between an accident and get yourself examined by the doctor.
Always follow the doctor’s advice and follow the doctor’s appointments. Insurance companies may look into matters when claimants discontinue medical care.
4. If You are in Anaheim, Contact an Anaheim Rideshare Accident Lawyer As Soon As Possible
As we read on, the legal aspects of a rideshare accident are more complicated than regular accidents that do not involve Uber or Lyft vehicles. A specialized Anaheim rideshare accident lawyer has experience in handling similar cases. They will take over the more challenging and complicated aspects of your claim, including gathering crucial evidence, communicating with your insurance company, and dealing with the rideshare company. A specialized Anaheim rideshare accident lawyer knows all the details needed to make a strong case once you negotiate for a settlement offer. If the case goes to court, they can provide you with litigation support.
Who is At Fault for a Rideshare Accident in California?
The negligent party is at fault in any car accident. When a driver’s negligence is proven to be a significant factor that caused harm, they are responsible for any car accident.1
If you are partially responsible for an accident, the comparative negligence laws of the state apply. However, you are still entitled to recover damages even if you are partly responsible for the accident.3
Making a claim or establishing responsibility in a rideshare accident is more complicated than in regular car accidents. If the person at fault is not the Uber or Lyft driver, their liability insurance covers the injured person’s damages.2 However, a set of factors determines the extent of insurance coverage in rideshare accidents.
Rideshare drivers are not employees of Rideshare companies. They are independent contractors responsible for their general liability insurance coverage. However, the state of California requires rideshare companies to provide additional coverage for drivers. If the Uber or Lyft driver is at fault, there are varying degrees of coverage depending on the status of their app in the instance an accident occurs:
Period 0: When the Rideshare Driver’s App is Inactive
The rideshare company considers the vehicle to be operated in a private capacity. When the driver has the rideshare app turned off or inactive, they act as a private person. In this case, they are not liable for any claims, and the driver is responsible for carrying insurance.
Period 1: When the Rideshare is Active, Available to Riders, But the Driver is “On Standby”
The driver is still responsible for carrying the minimum insurance. However, rideshare companies can provide coverage if the driver’s insurance doesn’t fully cover the claim amount.
Periods 2 and 3: When the Driver is Paired with a Passenger, and the Passenger in the Vehicle
Suppose a passenger is in a rideshare vehicle, and the driver is paired with that passenger. In that case, these periods trigger a $1 million insurance policy carried by rideshare companies that cover both the driver and passenger.
Hiring a rideshare accident lawyer early on is crucial in helping you get better at settling at a reasonable settlement offer. They are aware of the complicated nuances of handling similar cases. Insurance companies might throw challenges during the claims process. That is why knowing these steps, as well as a basic knowledge of the insurance coverage rules that govern rideshare drivers, is essential when making claims.
Takeaways: Seeking Help from a Specialized Rideshare Accident Lawyer Is Your Best Move
Even today, it is challenging to point out the exact amount of settlement offers Uber and Lyft are making to victims of rideshare accidents. The insurance companies representing rideshare companies may have required confidentiality terms before making settlement offers. Numerous cases involving unique circumstances, such as accidents caused by distracted driving when attending to an app, have arbitration needed in the past, making legal advice a must in an accident involving rideshare drivers. Hiring a rideshare accident lawyer also ensures you can build a strong case when making your injury claims in California. To know more about how the law applies to specific situations involving rideshare vehicles, call us at (949) 404-4826. Contact us if you want JSM Injury Firm APC to help you in your rideshare accident.
- California Civil Code Section 1714(a)
- California Insurance Code 11580.1
- Li vs. Yellow Cab Co., 13 Cal.3d 804 (1975)