Taking an Uber or a Lyft is a convenient way to get around in Florida, but accidents involving rideshare vehicles are bound to happen. A University of Chicago study found that rideshare accidents had increased traffic deaths by 3 percent from 2001 to 2016. That’s equivalent to as many as 1,100 additional traffic deaths. Bike and pedestrian fatalities from accidents involving cars have increased at a similar rate to all driving fatalities.
The University of Chicago researchers didn’t look at the impact of distracted driving, attributing the increase in traffic deaths to more cars on the road. But anecdotal evidence tells us that the apps untrained Uber and Lyft drivers rely on to navigate and find fares contributes to distracted driving, which has been shown to result in more accidents.
Distracted driving accounted for 27% of all crashes in 2015, according to statistics complied by the public awareness group End Distracted Driving. At the time of this writing, Uber’s app sends drivers new trip requests as they approach their current riders’ destination, allowing them to pick up a new person immediately after dropping off the current fare. A live map also shows drivers hot spot areas. Even while driving, an Uber driver will need to look at the prospective new rider’s location and destination before accepting the fare. This requires up to several seconds of no road awareness and diminished reaction time.
Fortunately, most rideshare accidents are not fatal, but they still send people to the emergency room on a consistent basis. Being injured in any kind of vehicle accident is stressful. If you’re injured in a rideshare accident in Florida, there are steps you can take and laws you should know to ensure you will be in a good position to recover damages and be made whole. Here are a few things you should do after an accident.
Seek Medical Attention
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, your safety and the safety of others should take priority. If you or anybody else involved in the accident is hurt or unconscious, dial 911 immediately for emergency medical help. Even if you don’t think you are badly injured, consider going to the hospital anyway. The adrenaline released by the shock of the accident may be temporarily masking the pain that would normally alert you to injuries.
If you are able enough, gather the personal and insurance information from the driver and any other motorists involved in the accident. This includes full names, insurance carriers, contact information, and license plate numbers. The easiest way to do this is to take photos of drivers licenses and license plates using your phone. This ensures you get full names with correct spellings.
Why is this important? Because rideshare companies don’t make it easy to learn the full names of their contractors. If you choose to file a personal injury claim, a seasoned attorney may choose to run a background check on the driver to uncover a prior history of reckless driving.
Call the Police
As a rideshare passenger, it’s important that you contact the police to notify them that you have been injured in an accident. Do not assume the driver will report the incident, even if they tell you they will.
Police officers can offer assistance in getting you medical care if needed and will be required to file an official accident report. This report can be used as evidence of official documentation later on should you decide to file a personal injury claim. A police officer will also assess if the driver was impaired when the accident occurred.
Record Details of the Accident
While it’s fresh in your mind, record details of the accident such as:
- The time, location, and road conditions.
- Testimony from anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Take a screenshot of your ride status within the Uber of Lyft app.
- Take photos of any injuries you have sustained, as well as damage to other passengers, motorists, or pedestrians
It’s important to document as much as possible as soon as possible. If you do end up filing a personal injury claim, the defense attorney for the insurance company and/or the driver may try to dispute any facts that are not supported by evidence, unfortunately.
Consult With a Rideshare Accident Attorney
After you’ve received medical attention, talked to the police and documented details of the accident, before you speak to the insurance companies you should consult with an attorney with experience handling rideshare accidents. At this stage the goal of the insurance companies is to get you to admit some fault or downplay your injuries. Do not admit fault for the accident or provide a statement to a representative from your rideshare company before speaking to an attorney.
File a Personal Injury Claim
In Florida, rideshare companies are regulated through the state’s House Bill 221, informally known as the “Uber/Lyft” bill, which was signed into law four years ago. The Uber/Lyft bill details requirements for rideshare drivers and their transportation network companies. One of these requirements is minimum insurance coverage requirements for rideshare drivers who are logged into the app or transporting passengers.
In the event of an accident Lyft and Uber drivers are covered by a $1 million liability insurance policy, as long as they are transporting a passenger. The Uber/Lyft law also requires the ridesharing companies to carry $100,000 of insurance for bodily injury or death and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged onto their app, but hasn’t secured a passenger. Passengers of rideshare vehicles are covered by PIP and UIM coverage the moment they enter a rideshare vehicle. That means if you’re injured while traveling in a rideshare vehicle, or struck by a rideshare vehicle while the driver is working, your medical care is covered up to $1 million by PIP or UIM, not your personal insurance or the motorist’s personal coverage.
Do not settle for the first offer made by the insurance company, as it will likely be too low to cover all of your costs. Moreover, injuries can take a little time to surface. The costs of even a minor injury can add up very quickly, from ambulance costs to medical bills, missed work, and ongoing physical therapy. Depending on the nature of your accident, you may be eligible to file for a personal injury claim to seek compensation to cover accident-related damages, including missed work and projected treatment costs.
If you’re confused by who pays in a rideshare accident and how the process works, you’re not alone. This technology is still fairly novel, and legal issues related to these services are still being worked out in the courts. The best way to get accurate information and advice about your legal options after an accident involving a rideshare is to consult with a skilled rideshare attorney.