Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way we commute, but like any other mode of transportation, they are not without risks. Accidents can and do happen. When they do, determining liability can be a complicated affair. Below, Butler Kahn rideshare accident lawyers explain the critical aspects you need to know to prove liability if you ever find yourself involved in such an accident.
A Primer On Georgia Traffic Laws And Their Role In Rideshare Cases
Understanding Georgia’s traffic laws is the first step in any liability case. Georgia is an “at-fault” state, meaning the person responsible for causing the accident is also responsible for the damages. It’s not just the rideshare driver who can be held liable; sometimes, other drivers or even the rideshare company can be at fault.
Georgia law also mandates that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have liability insurance coverage, usually up to $1 million, to cover damages in case of an accident. This coverage kicks in under specific circumstances and knowing when it does is crucial for your case.
The Importance Of Gathering Robust Evidence
Photographic And Video Evidence:
Taking photos and videos immediately after the accident can provide compelling proof. Capture multiple angles of the accident scene, vehicle damages, and any visible injuries.
Police Reports Are Crucial:
In Georgia, a police report serves as an official account of the incident. This report often includes vital details such as the parties involved, witness statements, and sometimes even an assessment of who might be at fault.
Eyewitness testimonies can provide an independent view of the accident, making them invaluable. Collect contact information for anyone who witnessed the event.
Electronic Records From Rideshare Apps:
Your Uber or Lyft app tracks important details like your pick-up and drop-off locations, route, and time of ride. This data can help establish facts like the speed of the vehicle and the location of the accident.
Role Of A Rideshare Accident Lawyer In Proving Liability
Professional advice from a qualified attorney is often vital in rideshare accident cases. They can help sift through the complexities of Georgia law and guide you on how to proceed with your claim.
Legal Procedures And Formalities
Your attorney can help you in filing the claim, be it against the rideshare company, the driver, or another party. This includes drafting the complaint, collecting additional evidence, and negotiating with insurance adjusters.
In Georgia, as in many other states, negligence is a fundamental concept in personal injury law. A negligence claim typically involves proving four key elements:
- Duty of Care: The first thing that must be established is whether the defendant owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff. This essentially means that the defendant had an obligation to act with a certain level of care and responsibility towards the plaintiff. For instance, in a car accident case, the duty might be as simple as the general obligation to obey traffic laws and drive safely.
- Breach of Duty: Once a duty of care has been established, the next step is to show that the defendant breached that duty. This can be done through direct evidence, like eyewitness testimony or video footage, or through circumstantial evidence, such as showing a pattern of reckless behavior. It’s important to gather as much evidence as possible to support this element, whether it be police reports, medical records, or expert testimonies. In Georgia, this could also involve invoking the concept of “negligence per se,” where violating a statute automatically constitutes a breach of duty if it leads to the type of harm the law was meant to prevent.
- Causation: Causation in a negligence case in Georgia involves two sub-elements: “cause-in-fact” and “proximate cause.” Cause-in-fact refers to the “but for” test—would the injury have occurred but for the defendant’s actions? Proximate cause deals with foreseeability—was it reasonably foreseeable that the defendant’s action could cause this kind of harm? Both elements must be proven for a successful negligence claim. This often involves complex arguments and may require expert witnesses, especially in cases involving medical malpractice or specialized fields.
- Damages: Finally, it must be shown that the plaintiff has suffered actual damages due to the defendant’s negligence. This could be physical injuries, financial loss, or emotional trauma. In Georgia, damages can be categorized as compensatory (for actual loss) or punitive (to punish and deter).
Georgia’s Comparative Fault Rule And Your Claim
Georgia employs a comparative fault system. In simple terms, if you are partially at fault for the accident, your damages could be reduced by your percentage of fault. However, if you are 50% or more at fault, you are not eligible for any compensation.
Initiating The Claim Process
After you have gathered all necessary evidence and consulted with your attorney, the next step is filing a claim. Timing is crucial as Georgia law stipulates a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
The Complexity Of Settlement Negotiations
Settlement negotiations are often the most time-consuming part of the process. Both parties will present their case, backed by the evidence gathered. Your attorney can negotiate on your behalf to help get you the best possible settlement, especially when dealing with big companies like Uber and Lyft.
When Settlements Fail: Taking The Case To Court
If a reasonable settlement cannot be achieved, you may have to take the case to court. Here, both sides will present their evidence, and a judge or jury will decide who is liable. Having a competent attorney by your side can greatly affect the outcome.
Atlanta Rideshare Accident Lawyers
Legal complexities surrounding rideshare cases require specialized attention, and at Butler Kahn, we’re dedicated to ensuring you get the justice you deserve. With offices conveniently located in Atlanta, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, and Roswell, we’re well-equipped to serve you no matter where you are in Georgia. Our seasoned team of experienced rideshare accident lawyers is committed to providing personalized, aggressive representation to individuals who have experienced accidents or injuries. Take control of your situation today; reach out to us at 678-940-1444 or connect with us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.