Understanding a Lyft or Uber Accident in Georgia
An experienced Lyft or Uber lawyer knows that passengers and drivers of rideshare services have special protections in the event of an accident. First, the company involved—whether it is Uber or Lyft—should preserve all of their GPS, cellular, and electronic data. Second, the injured person—whether a passenger or driver—is protected by special auto insurance policies
What if I am in a Lyft or Uber Accident?
What should you do if you’re involved in a Lyft or Uber accident? Here are some tips:
Take care of your body! If you are hurt and need medical attention, call 911 and get it.
Call the police. Which party ultimately bears responsibility for any injuries will depend on who is at fault for the collision. Most Georgia police officers are experienced at determining fault, so call an officer to the scene of the accident.
Save the evidence.
>If you can, write down the names and contact information for any witnesses. The witnesses may leave the scene of the accident before the police arrive, or the police may be too busy to get the witnesses’ contact information, so copy it down as soon as possible.
>Take pictures of both vehicles and any roadway evidence, like skid marks.
>Make notes about the names of the Uber or Lyft driver, the names of other drivers, and the details of the trip you were on at the time of the collision. Screenshots are great!
Seek help. Call an experienced Lyft or Uber lawyer.
It’s a car accident, so most of the considerations and frequently-asked questions about car accidents will be useful.
Lyft and Uber Insurance for Car Accidents
Working drivers and paying passengers of Uber and Lyft have certain protections, above and beyond what regular cars have. Uber and Lyft both provide additional insurance in an effort to earn your business by keeping you protected. Making that insurance available to drivers and passengers is a responsible choice, and we commend Uber and Lyft for doing it.
With Uber, the types of insurance available depend on several factors that an Uber lawyer knows to investigate. For instance, if the driver of the Uber is not at fault, the insurance company of the driver who is at fault usually provides the first layer of coverage. After that, Uber’s coverage may kick in. If the Uber driver is ‘under dispatch’—that is, is either carrying a passenger or going to pick one up—and the Uber driver is at fault, Uber’s liability insurance policy provides protection for the passenger. If the Uber driver is not at fault, then Uber’s uninsured/undersinsured (“UM”) coverage kicks in to protect both the Uber driver and the Uber passenger. Uber typically provides car accident insurance through a wholly-owned subsidiary named “Raiser LLC.” If the Uber vehicle is an UberBLACK, UberSUV, or uberTAXI, there may be commercial insurance available for the protection of driver and passenger.
Lyft is similar. As with Uber, if the Lyft driver is not at fault, the insurance company of the driver who is at fault is normally the first insurer on the hook. But a good Lyft lawyer knows that after that first insurance company, there are additional layers of insurance coverage. Like Uber, Lyft provides additional insurance to protect passengers if the Lyft driver is at fault. Further, if the Lyft driver is not at fault and the driver who is at fault did not carry enough insurance—which happens all too often—Lyft provides additional UM coverage to protect both the driver and passenger.
They types of insurance that Uber and Lyft provide, and the insurance companies who provide the coverage, changes over time. Initially, we saw lots of James River Insurance coverage following Lyft or Uber accidents. After that, Farmer’s Insurance appeared more and more.
Insurance coverage in a Lyft or Uber accident is usually good if the Lyft or Uber driver has a passenger or is going to pick up a passenger at the time of the collision. Again, the insurance picture can change over time, but most often, the rideshare companies carry $1 million in personal injury liability coverage. That means that if the Lyft or Uber driver is at fault for the collision, there is $1 million in insurance coverage to cover the personal injuries of anyone who is hurt as a result of the driver’s negligence.
In addition, $1 million of uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist / UM is usually available. That means that regardless of whether the Lyft or Uber driver is at fault, there is $1 million of UM coverage available to cover the personal injuries of anyone who was riding in the rideshare vehicle at the time of the collision (including the Lyft or Uber driver).
If the Lyft or Uber driver did not have a passenger at the time of the accident and wasn’t on the way to pick one up, then there is typically less available insurance. Often, the amount is $100,000 in personal injury liability coverage.
Lyft & Uber Settlements, Verdicts, and Compensation
When a person has been hurt in a Lyft or Uber accident and wasn’t at fault, he or she should be compensated for those injuries. Georgia law refers to that compensation as “damages.” If an injured person’s lawsuit is resolved before trial, the compensation comes in the form of a settlement. If the case goes to trial, then the jury will make a decision about compensation called a “verdict.”
Georgia law recognizes several types of damages that can be paid in settlements or verdicts. Below we’ve described the categories that apply most often in Lyft and Uber lawsuits.
Past Medical Bills. Injuries need medical treatment, and medical treatment costs money. That money shouldn’t come out of the pocket of the person who was injured through no fault of his or her own, so as most people realize, the person at fault or their insurance company has to pay it. The injured person must be compensated for the full price of those medical bills under Georgia law, even if the injured person had health insurance. (One reason for that is that at the end of the case, the health insurance company may have to be paid back from the settlement.)
Future Medical Bills. The need for medical treatment doesn’t end just because the lawsuit is over. If injuries are serious, an injured person may need medical treatment for years. For example, spinal injuries in the neck or back may require continued treatment as the hurt person ages. If there are future medical needs, a good Lyft and Uber accident lawyer may retain an expert to forecast those future costs in what lawyers call a “life care plan.” The insurance company should pay for those future medical costs in a settlement or verdict.
Past Pain & Suffering. Injuries hurt, no matter whether they’re sustained in a rideshare accident or elsewhere. When a person is forced to endure pain because another person broke the law, the hurt person is entitled to compensation for that pain and suffering.
Future Pain & Suffering. In an ideal world, all injures would have an end point. We don’t live in an ideal world. The pain from injuries can last for years, decades, or lifetimes. Spinal injuries to the neck or back are infamous for causing pain that seems to last forever. Hardware like steel plates and bone screws can also cause pain for years to come. If the pain is going to continue even after the lawsuit is over, the victim of a Lyft or Uber accident can be compensated for that future pain and suffering, whether by settlement or verdict.
Lost Wages. If an injury knocks an accident victim out of work, the injured person not only sees mounting medical bills and has to endure pain, but may also lose income if he or she is unable to work. Georgia law permits the injured person to be compensated for those lost earnings.
Interference with Daily Living. This phrase comes from Georgia’s Pattern Jury Instructions, and it’s a good phrase. It means what it sounds like. Some serious injuries interfere with the way we live our lives. In an extreme example, paralysis can put someone in a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life. Other injuries may prevent the victim of a Lyft or Uber accident from playing sports, holding grandchildren, mowing the lawn, or enjoying a hobby. When an injury changes a person’s life, Georgia law establishes that the person should be compensated. Again, this compensation can come in the form of a settlement or a verdict, depending on whether the lawsuit is resolved before or after trial.
Evidence: What Uber or Lyft Should Preserve
As a part of their businesses, Uber and Lyft keep GPS and electronic records about what their drivers are doing and where they are going while they are working. This evidence shows what driver was where, and who the Lyft or Uber driver was carrying, at any given time. Depending on the facts of your case, that evidence may be important. For example, if your driver was distracted or texting while driving, the Lyft or Uber app may show what he was typing and when. If the Lyft or Uber driver was speeding, the GPS data could be important. The rideshare company has a duty to save that evidence for the protection of its drivers and passengers.
The companies should save the evidence voluntarily, on their own, as soon as the Uber or Lyft driver or passenger reports the collision. At the Butler Law Firm, we take it one step further. Just in case the company doesn’t do what it should, we send official notice to the rideshare company that it should save the evidence. National and local legal news sources have written about the Butler Law Firm’s methods for making sure this evidence gets preserved.
Uber and Lyft also collect and save other information about their drivers. For example, the rideshare companies should run background checks, evaluate the driving histories, inspect car accident insurance, and gather information about the make, model, and condition of the vehicles operated by Lyft and Uber drivers. Depending on the facts of your case, this evidence may be important. For example, if the vehicle in which you were riding was known to be unsafe, a good Lyft or Uber lawyer might want to find out what the company knew about the vehicle in which you were a passenger.
This is one reason that you should not delay in contacting a Lyft or Uber lawyer who specializes in these cases—the faster we learn about your case, the faster we can remind the rideshare company to save the evidence.
Who are Uber and Lyft?
Since getting started in 2009, Uber has become a popular way to get around. It was successful enough that competitors started to emerge, such as Lyft in 2012. As ridesharing companies, both Uber and Lyft should provide a safe environment both for the drivers who work for them and the passengers who pay them.
The companies are big, as a Lyft and Uber lawyer who takes them on must recognize. According to the Athens Banner-Herald, Uber alone had 5,000 drivers in Georgia as of 2015. Since then, Uber and Lyft have only grown. Uber remains the dominant company. Recent estimates have placed the value of Lyft at $23 billion, and Uber at $120 billion. That means they can afford to hire big-name defense lawyers. Both companies are big in Georgia, especially in Atlanta. One news source ranked Atlanta the fifth-most hospitable city for ridesharing in the United States.
Talking with a Lyft and Uber Lawyer
Although there are similarities, a Lyft or Uber accident is different than a normal car accident case. If you or a loved one is involved in a collision while driving or riding with a rideshare company, contact a Lyft or Uber lawyer for a free, no-obligation review of the case.
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