Uber and Lyft Accidents
In 2013, California became the first state to legalize companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. These unusual, community-friendly businesses aim to connect car-needy people to underutilized vehicles in the area. As with anything new, there have been lots of quirks to work out. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar drivers are human beings, whom are imperfect, capable of making mistakes.
If you or a loved one has been injured in Sacramento or surrounding areas and the accident involved a Lyft, Uber or Sidecar vehicle contact me today for free, friendly advice.
Ride-hailing services (also known as ridesharing) like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber allow you to use smartphone apps to book and pay for a private car ride. A driver picks you up and transports you to your desired location. Companies such as Uber are similar to a taxicab company, but with far less regulation. At first, these services were banned because they were considered unlicensed taxicab companies.
Lyft was introduced in 2012. It was created by John Zimmer and Logan Green as a service of Zimride, a ridesharing outfit started in 2007. Zimride concentrated on ridesharing for lengthier rides, such as town to town rides. It connected drivers and passengers through the Facebook Connect application. Over time, Zimride became the biggest ridesharing service in the United States of America.
Lyft began as an on-demand ridesharing network for shorter length trips within cities. Somewhat like Zimride, the app puts together drivers of cars with folks that need rides. Drivers and passengers compare each other on a five-star scale after each ride. These comparisons and ratings create the reputations of both drivers and passengers within the Lyft network.
Uber was called "UberCab" when it was founded in 2009 by two friends Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. The two had been in Paris the year before at a conference. They experienced some difficulty in finding a taxicab. It was pouring rain and they were bogged down with luggage. Soon, they began brainstorming ways to solve this problem. It’s been said, “find a need and fill it.” And, so they did.
Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber Technologies Inc. is an American company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Classified as a multinational online transportation network, it creates, markets and runs the Uber mobile app. The app allows consumers owning smartphones to send a trip request which is then forwarded to Uber drivers. Uber drivers use their own cars to give people rides. Uber service was available in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide by 2015. There have been several other companies that have duplicated its business model. These companies include Lyft, Sidecar and a handful of others.
People using the Uber app on their smartphone are connected with Uber drivers by GPS technology. The drivers use the Uber app as well. Sometimes Uber is called a ridesharing app. In Sacramento, Uber users can choose from several flavors of Uber including UberX, UberXL, UberBlack and UberSUV.
How Uber and Lyft Accidents Occur
People are injured as passengers in a Uber or Lyft driver's vehicle. Or, people in other vehicles can be hit by a Lyft or Uber driver. Pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists can be hit by Uber or Lyft drivers. Sometimes a distracted Lyft or Uber driver causes an accident. There are also collisions involving multiple Uber or Lyft vehicles. As you can see, there are a variety of ways in which an accident can occur involving Uber, Lyft or other ridesharing vehicles.
When Uber and Lyft Accidents Turn Deadly
What happens when these accidents turn tragic and deadly? One of the first tragedies in California involving a Uber driver happened in San Francisco on New Year's Eve of 2013. In that case, the Uber driver hit and killed a 6-year-old girl. The insurance company for Uber denied coverage, claiming it did not cover Uber drivers between rides. Both Uber and the insurance company came under fire by the public for their cold response to the tragic death of this little girl. Her mother and brother sustained injuries as well. A few months later Uber began providing additional insurance coverage for their drivers that had the Uber app in use at the time of an accident. The additional insurance provided was only for $100,000. This additional coverage was still lacking in serious accident cases. The mother of the child who died in San Francisco had about $500,000 in her own personal injury hospital bills.
The family of the victim filed a wrongful death lawsuit. They claimed the Uber driver was using the Uber app while looking for customers when he hit the child as she walked through a crosswalk with her brother and mother. The accident happened at Polk and Ellis in San Francisco. Court documents indicated that the Uber driver did not have a patron in his car at the time, but was looking for one. The last thing the mother of the victim saw before being hit was "the driver looking down at his cell phone." This tragedy has sparked conversation and debate on how to balance new transportation services with safety in California.
Perils of Distracted Driving
We are all too familiar with the detriment of distracted driving. This case really brought attention to the gravity of what can happen when any driver fails to keep his or her eyes on the road. Our roadways are now being shared with these less regulated transportation service providers. Victims are left to pick up the pieces of their lives after tragedy strikes. Others are saddled with severe injuries which often last a lifetime. Some require long term medical care. Others have lost wages and future potential earnings. It is important to preserve evidence and protect your rights to fair compensation for your serious injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you.
Uber and Lyft Operation and Insurance Requirements
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft are required to obtain a license from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), set up a driver training program and run criminal background checks on all their drivers. Additionally, they are to have a zero-tolerance stance on drug and alcohol use.
Uber and Lyft are required to have a minimum of $1 Million Dollar per incident insurance coverage.
The laws change often and how Uber and Lyft drivers are insured varies from situation to situation. Of course, insurance companies have one thing in mind, and that is to spend as little money as possible on your injury claim.
Insurance Requirements for Uber and Lyft Drivers
As of July 2015 there a three specific periods where Transportation Network Companies' insurance policies kick in:
- When the Uber or Lyft driver logs onto the app, but hasn't yet accepted a ride. In this scenario, the TNC's generally provide contingent coverage. This means, if turning on the app nullifies the Uber or Lyft driver's personal insurance coverage, then the TNC will provide insurance coverage. However, it is usually a lower amount. The CPUC requires a minimum of $50,000/$100,000 in coverage for injuries and death. Note: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per incident. And, in addition to the coverage for bodily injury, they are also required to carry $30,000 in property damage coverage.
- When the driver has accepted a ride, but has not yet picked up the passenger, the coverage is the same as #3 below.
- Passenger has been picked up and the ride is in progress. In time frames of #2 and #3, the TNC's must provide at least $1 million in coverage for bodily injury or death caused by the TNC's driver. Additionally, they must carry $1 million of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This provides coverage for the driver and passengers if they become injured by someone else, who does not carry enough insurance to cover all of the injuries.
There are many factors involved with any Uber or Lyft accident case. If you have been involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver or are having difficulty determining which insurance should pay or you've been denied medical coverage by an insurance company, contact me today.
Other Accidents in the News
LA Weekly published this article which describes 8 drivers that Uber cut ties with due to their criminal records. Uber's criminal background checks allegedly only go back 7 years, and there are Uber drivers out there who have been convicted of hit and run, DUI, and other violent offenses. This Uber driver was arrested for dealing drugs.
In the first 60 days of 2016 there was the Uber driver who went on a shooting spree in Michigan, a drunk Uber driver who hit a bus in San Diego, and a Uber driver killed in a hit and run in New York. And in late 2015 there were several Uber accidents including a Uber driver's SUV that was hit by a drunk driver resulting in a fatality of the Uber passenger.
Sacramento Uber and Lyft Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Uber or Lyft related accident please call me today at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. Or, call toll free at (800) 404-5400.
Follow this link to visit my comprehensive injury and accident information website: www.autoaccident.com.
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Photo Attribution: By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons