If you suffer injuries in a car accident involving an Uber or Lyft vehicle, you can pursue legal claims to recover compensation from those at fault for the crash. When the accident occurred due to the Uber/Lyft driver’s negligence, you may want to pursue financial recovery from that driver. But can you file a lawsuit against the driver or Uber/Lyft after the car accident? What does an Uber/Lyft accident litigation look like?
Although the law may not allow you to sue the rideshare company for an accident caused by one of its drivers, companies like Uber and Lyft provide insurance that covers their drivers when the driver causes a crash. You can pursue financial recovery from an at-fault Uber/Lyft driver through the insurance coverage provided by the rideshare company. You can file a lawsuit against the driver if you can’t obtain a fair settlement with the driver or the insurance company.
A rideshare accident lawyer can explain your legal options and walk you through the claims process after a rideshare accident. Your attorney can also investigate the accident and prepare a persuasive case to support your rights to compensation for your injuries.
Common Causes of Uber or Lyft Accidents
Uber and Lyft drivers have multiple demands on them while driving for the rideshare service.
Uber and Lyft car accidents can occur because of:
- Tailgating/following too closely
- Reckless driving, including excessive speeding or swerving through traffic
- Aggressive driving/road rage
- Turning or changing lanes without signaling or checking mirrors
- Parking or stopping on active roadways
- Running red lights/stop signs
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Distracted driving, especially using a cell phone while driving or interacting with passengers
- Drowsy/fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driver inexperience
- Unfamiliarity with traffic patterns
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance
Insurance Available in an Uber or Lyft Accident Claim
Rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft provide insurance coverage for their drivers while logged into the mobile platform. The insurance coverage limits vary depending on whether the driver has accepted a ride request or has a passenger in the vehicle.
Coverage limits include:
- The driver has logged into the rideshare company’s mobile application but does not have a ride request: $50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage and $25,000 per accident of property damage liability coverage is available if the driver’s personal insurance doesn’t apply.
- The driver has accepted a ride request or has a passenger in the vehicle: $1 million of combined bodily injury/property damage liability coverage.
If a rideshare driver has not logged into the mobile application when an accident occurs, then the driver’s personal auto insurance coverage applies.
Can You Sue Uber or Lyft for an Accident Caused by Their Driver?
Although Uber and Lyft provide insurance coverage for their drivers while logged into the service, you may not have the right to sue the rideshare companies for an accident caused by their driver.
Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, which means you cannot pursue a negligence claim against the rideshare company based on employer liability. Instead, you likely will seek compensation from the at-fault Uber/Lyft driver through the insurance coverage that the rideshare companies provide for their drivers. In other words, you can file a lawsuit against the driver following a crash they caused.
What Steps Should You Take After an Uber or Lyft Car Accident?
You can put yourself in the best position to succeed in a lawsuit after suffering injuries and property damage in an Uber or Lyft accident if you:
- Get the Uber/Lyft driver’s license, registration, and insurance information.
- Take photos of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks, traffic signs/signals, weather/lighting/traffic/road conditions, and any visible injuries you suffered.
- Report the accident to law enforcement.
- Notify the rideshare company of the accident. You can contact the company through its mobile application or the customer support website.
- Promptly seek medical attention to have a doctor examine you for injuries you may have sustained in the crash.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and instructions.
- Keep copies of car repair bills, medical invoices, and receipts for any other expenses you incur due to the accident.
- Gather your pay stubs/income statements if you take time off work or earn less income while recovering from your injuries.
- Keep a journal to document your recovery and describe the physical pain or difficulties with daily activities you experience.
Finally, speak to an Uber/Lyft car accident lawyer soon after the crash to get started on your legal claims.
How Do You Prove Liability in an Uber or Lyft Car Accident Lawsuit?
Winning a verdict in an Uber/Lyft car accident lawsuit requires presenting evidence that proves the Uber/Lyft driver’s fault for the crash.
Examples of evidence that your attorney may use to build your court case include:
- Police accident reports
- Rideshare company incident reports
- Accident scene photos and videos
- Surveillance/traffic camera footage
- Dashcam or in-vehicle camera footage
- Eyewitness testimony
- Car event data recorder (“black box”) logs
- The Uber/Lyft driver’s cell phone records
- Logs from the rideshare company’s mobile application
- Results from any alcohol/drug testing performed on the rideshare driver
- Medical records of your accident injuries
- Post-crash vehicle inspections
- Accident reconstruction reports and visualizations
What Occurs During an Uber or Lyft Car Accident Claim?
The process of filing a lawsuit after an Uber or Lyft car accident involves several steps:
Before you can file a lawsuit for an Uber or Lyft accident, your lawyer will investigate the facts and circumstances of the accident to recover evidence and assemble a persuasive case to hold the rideshare driver liable for your injuries.
An investigation of an Uber/Lyft accident will involve taking photos of the accident scene, obtaining a copy of the police accident reports, requesting other documents such as the rideshare company’s incident reports or post-crash vehicle inspection/repair reports, and interviewing eyewitnesses.
Your attorney may also hire expert witnesses to help with the investigation and provide opinion testimony to support your claim.
Experts commonly used in Uber/Lyft accident cases include:
- Accident reconstruction experts. Review evidence from the crash scene to prepare a written narrative or visual reconstruction of what occurred in the accident.
- Engineering experts. Examine vehicles after the accident for signs of defects or poor maintenance that may have contributed to the crash, or gather and process computer data such as vehicle computer logs or drivers’ cell phone records.
- Medical experts. Describe how the crash caused your injuries and explain what future care you may need or what permanent disabilities you may experience.
- Vocational experts. Discuss how your injuries and disabilities will affect your ability to work or perform daily activities.
- Financial experts. Calculate future expenses and lost income.
Filing Insurance Claims and Demand Letters
Your lawyer can also prepare and file insurance and legal claims for you. An attorney can draft a demand letter to the insurance company as an initial settlement offer. A demand letter will describe the evidence supporting your case, document your injuries and losses, and request a certain sum of money as compensation to settle the claim.
If the insurance company refuses a fair settlement, you may need to file suit against the at-fault Uber/Lyft driver to recover compensation. Filing a lawsuit after an Uber or Lyft car accident begins with submitting a complaint to the court in the county where the accident happened. The complaint will list your factual allegations supporting your claim and request relief, such as financial compensation.
Your attorney will serve a copy of the complaint and the court summons on the at-fault driver and other opposing parties. The driver or their insurer can file an answer to the complaint to admit or deny each allegation.
After the parties have filed their pleadings, the lawsuit proceeds to the discovery stage. Discovery allows parties to exchange information and evidence and take deposition testimony from relevant witnesses to narrow down issues for trial.
Parties can obtain discovery through:
- Interrogatories. Questions that ask for details about the accident or evidence in a party’s possession
- Requests for production of documents. RFPs allow a party to ask for copies of documents or other recorded/written materials in a party’s possession or control
- Depositions. Parties can obtain recorded testimony from witnesses, including the drivers involved in the accident, bystanders, and the parties’ experts
As litigation proceeds, parties may continue negotiating a settlement of the case. Discovery can help the parties in an Uber/Lyft car accident case get closer to settling as they better understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases.
Parties may also participate in more structured settlement negotiations through mediation or pursue alternative dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration.
Parties in an Uber or Lyft car accident lawsuit may settle the case at any time during litigation.
An Uber/Lyft accident suit will eventually reach trial if the parties cannot agree to a settlement. At trial, each party can present evidence and witnesses supporting their claims about how the accident occurred. You will also introduce evidence of injuries and losses you sustained from the crash.
After the parties present their arguments and evidence, a jury (or a judge serving as the fact-finder) will deliberate and issue a verdict that decides the issues on trial. The judge will then issue a judgment based on the verdict.
If either party disagrees with the verdict and judgment and believes errors occurred during the trial proceedings, they may file post-trial motions or an appeal. Post-trial motions may ask the trial court to order a new trial, enter a verdict or judgment for the moving party, or amend the judgment.
On appeal, a party must identify one or more legal errors that influenced the trial’s outcome. Depending on the errors involved, the appellate court may order a new trial or direct the trial court to amend the judgment or dismiss the case.
The Statute of Limitations on Uber or Lyft Car Accident Lawsuits
Under Florida’s statute of limitations on injury lawsuits, you have four years to file suit against the at-fault Uber or Lyft driver. If you file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires on your claim, the trial court may dismiss your case. For this reason, you should begin preparing your case as soon as possible after an Uber/Lyft accident to ensure you can file an Uber/Lyft car accident lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Pursue an Uber or Lyft Car Accident Claim
An attorney can help guide you through the claims process after sustaining injuries in an Uber or Lyft car accident.
While you focus on your treatment, your lawyer can prepare and pursue your case by:
- Thoroughly investigating the accident and securing evidence to build your insurance or legal claim
- Identifying all liable parties besides the at-fault Uber/Lyft driver and evaluating your legal options for compensation, including available insurance coverage in your case
- Gathering your medical records, bills, and income statements to document your injuries and financial losses
- Preparing and filing insurance claims on your behalf
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters to secure the compensation you need as efficiently as possible
- Drafting and filing lawsuits in your case to pursue financial recovery when liable parties refuse a fair settlement
- Advocating for your rights to compensation in court and at trial
Understand Your Legal Rights After Suffering Injuries in an Uber or Lyft Car Accident
Pursuing compensation after an Uber or Lyft accident can become a complicated endeavor. The rideshare companies and their insurers can make it difficult to recover the financial resources you need for your medical care and lost income.
Knowing your legal options after an Uber or Lyft car accident can empower you to stand up for your rights. A personal accident lawyer can also help you by investigating the accident, preparing a persuasive case, and advocating for you at the negotiating table or in court if necessary.