Hopefully you’ll never be involved in a rideshare car accident. But, with services like Lyft and Uber widening their footprint exponentially, the chances that a car accident might involve someone driving for one of the rideshare companies is increasing. So, it’s wise to understand the vagaries of this kind of accident should you, or a loved one, ever need to navigate them.
Are Uber & Lyft Causing More Car Accidents?
According to a new study from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, yes. But not because they’re more dangerous than any other cars on the road. When ridesharing options arrive on the scene in an area, an increase of 2-3 percent in motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents can be expected. The study, entitled “The Cost of Convenience: Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities,” reports that this increase is not only for vehicle occupants, but also for pedestrians.
Why would Uber and Lyft increase the number of
car accidents in a given area? For two reasons, according to the study. First,
the arrival of Lyft and Uber businesses means that some vehicles–those that
are participating in the rideshare services–are on the road more. People who
might previously have walked, taken public transportation, or simply waited
longer for a taxi, now have the option of summoning a new car onto the road.
Thus, there is additional congestion in the area, and more congestion brings
more accidents. The second piece is that the introduction of ridesharing in a
particular area also seems to bring with it new car registrations, meaning more
vehicles that will be adding to that congestion. It’s possible that those who
previously did not require a vehicle–or a second vehicle for their family–buy
and register a car in order to participate in the new business opportunity that
is now available in their community. What the study does not claim is that
rideshare operators are inherently more likely to cause accidents or injuries
than other drivers.
Car Accidents are on the Rise
So, when Lyft and Uber come to town, you can expect more car accidents and injuries to occur. That’s terrible news at face value, especially when combined with the fact that road fatalities in the U.S. have been rising for years. In 2015, in fact, road fatalities jumped by 7.2 percent–the largest increase in 50 years.
If you are hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, legal publishers NOLO remind you that some of the same rules that apply to other accidents apply to this one. Two big things need to be determined: who was at fault for the accident, and how badly the person hurt was injured. If the person who was at fault was operating a rideshare at the time, then that’s the person who any claim should be filed against. Before determinations of fault take place, however, there are a number of things that should be done right away.
What to Do After an Uber or Lyft Car Accident:
- Seek medical treatment – If you’re injured in any car accident urgent care should be your first thought. Depending on the severity of the accident, a trip to the emergency room may be warranted. But whether you head to the E.R., the closest urgent care center, or to your primary care physician, get checked out by a medical expert as soon as you are able. The injuries of everyone involved should be both evaluated and documented by a medical professional as soon after the incident as possible.
- Gather everyone’s contact information –This first step is the same as it would be after any accident. Get the names, contact information, and insurance details of every party who was involved. If anyone other than those involved in the accident saw it occur, gather their contact information, as well. They could be valuable witnesses.
- Photograph the scene. That includes the vehicles–their placement and their condition–as well as anything else that may be important in describing or validating the scene later on.
- Call the police before you leave the scene of the accident – In a car accident where a rideshare driver is not involved, you might decide not to call the police if only minor property damage occurred, NOLO notes. In the case of a rideshare car accident, however, they recommend calling the police regardless of the extent of the damage. This will automatically generate a police report, and that will mean that all the official details of the incident will have been independently verified.
- Know that you’re probably covered – There may be some legal trickiness surrounding whose insurance gets tapped first–the rideshare company’s or the driver’s personal insurance. But the good news is that rideshare drivers are likely carrying insurance. Both Lyft and Uber require their operators to carry their own up-to-date insurance which meets or exceeds state requirements. Additionally, both Lyft and Uber have now begun carrying liability car insurance coverage for their drivers. When it comes time to determine whose coverage applies, it will come down to whether the operator was actually working at the time. If the driver was not logged into the rideshare app at the time of the accident, the company’s insurance would not apply.
- Talk to an auto accident lawyer – Some of the legal details surrounding car accidents that involve Uber or Lyft are straightforward. But not all of them are. And, since both services are still relatively new, some of the legal aspects of car accidents surrounding a rideshare driver have yet to be fully worked out. NOLO suggests, since courts are still handing down rulings regarding rideshare car accidents, that you call a car accident attorney for counsel.
- Understand your rights as a passenger – If you’re the passenger inside a rideshare, rather than the driver of another car, know that any injuries you suffer may well be covered by the rideshare company’s insurance. A car accident lawyer can help you to understand your rights and manage communication between you and the parties involved.
Work with Alhasoon, Glidden & Glidden. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Denver, or Colorado Springs, Colorado, a car accident lawyer at AGG Law Firm is available to discuss your injuries with you and determine the best path forward.