Our law firm has substantial experience representing consumers injured in accidents involving rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.
These are not ordinary “car wreck” cases. For fair compensation, smart consumers hire lawyers with sophistication and the resources needed to go up against the lawyers hired by the rideshare services like Lyft and Uber.
Here is the basic lay of the land.
From the moment a driver for Uber or Lyft accepts a ride call, until the time that ride is finished and the passenger is let out, the driver is covered by an insurance policy paid for by Uber or Lyft or another rideshare company. That coverage is usually a maximum of $1 million (one million dollars) per injured person.
The injured person can be anyone: a passenger in the rideshare vehicle, a pedestrian on the street, a passenger or driver in another vehicle, even the driver of the Uber or Lyft vehicle (as long as that driver is not at fault).
That insurance coverage may sound like a lot of money, but for serious injuries, it is not.
Our lawyers work to get the best possible outcome – the most money we can – for our clients. The lawyers hired by Uber, Lyft and their insurance companies do not give away money without a fight. They will typically challenge every aspect of an injury claim: the extent and nature of the injuries, the amounts claimed for medical and rehabilitation bills, lost earnings both past and future, the need for future care, and the human damages that are harder to quantify such as physical pain, emotional suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
When a fair compensation amount exceeds $1 million, which often happens for any life-changing injury that affects a victim for the long term, we work extra hard to bring the client’s claim directly to Uber, Lyft or whatever corporation is behind the rideshare service.
Our lawyers typically pursue two strategies against Uber or Lyft:
First, they look for any ways that the rideshare service company may have been directly at fault for its own negligence: Did they use a driver who had a bad history? Did they let the driver use a vehicle that was dangerous?
Second, our lawyers challenge the legal defense that Lyft, Uber, and other ride-share companies typically make, which is that they are not responsible because their driver was an “independent contractor” and not a true employee.
Why does this matter?
Long-standing law across the United States holds that when someone’s own employee acting within the scope of their employment hurts someone else by negligent behavior, the employer is responsible to pay the victim’s damages. This legal doctrine is called respondeat superior. Every state and the District of Columbia has such a common law rule. It’s fair because the employer has control over the employee’s behavior. But if the person causing the injury was an independent contractor, the person who hired them has no legal liability. It would be like a consumer hiring Door Dash to pick up food at a restaurant, and that delivery driver gets into an accident hurting someone else. That accident is not the fault of the person who hired Door Dash, because the driver was not their employee. He or she would be considered an independent contractor under the law.
The problem with Uber and Lyft and the other rideshare companies is that they claim their drivers are independent contractors, but when we as lawyers for the accident victims challenge them in court, it often turns out the driver is really an employee, because the company exercises as much control over them as any ordinary employer would.
That requires a ton of legal work to strip away this fig leaf defense. Typically we take deposition testimony of the driver and a spokesperson for the rideshare company. We obtain the company’s policy manual, the driver’s history with the company, even the number of calls they made on the day of the accident, plus a lot of other nitty gritty details.
All this work is aimed at determining whether the driver is truly an independent contractor. Often they are not, and when we can show that, then the Uber or Lyft or other rideshare service becomes fully responsible for all damages caused by their driver’s behavior, and the damages are not limited to their $1 million insurance policy.
Important footnote: There are legal deadlines in every jurisdiction for bringing a case in court against a careless driver or their employer. It’s three years in Maryland and Washington D.C. (but two years in D.C. if the victim died), and two years in Virginia. That may seem like a long time, but it’s not, especially when you’re focused on recovering from a serious injury. It’s best to get your claim into the hands of an experienced lawyer soon after the injury, while evidence can be gathered before it disappears.
If you are an attorney looking for resources to fight Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare company, we’d be happy to offer our expertise. Click here for more details.