As with any motor vehicle on the roadway, rideshare vehicles in Tampa may become involved in accidents. When they do, accident victims—including rideshare passengers as well as occupants of other vehicles—often wonder whether the insurance complexities of this trending mode of transportation will prevent them from getting the compensation they need to pay for medical and other expenses related to the accident. They may get the runaround from the driver, the rideshare service, or their own PIP insurance carriers.
If this happens to you, don’t fight those battles. Instead, call the Tampa Rideshare Lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman. We understand the complexities of these cases and have the results to show for it, having recovered millions of dollars for our clients.
If a rideshare accident injured you, let us help you find a way to pay for the bills that keep piling up.
As explained by Commercial Driver HQ, the historical definition of ridesharing was essentially carpooling where one person rode in another person’s car and split the costs of gas and other expenses for the trip. However, when Uber began offering its services to the general public in 2011 as a cost-effective alternative to traditional taxis, it not only changed the definition of ridesharing, but changed the face of public transportation.
Uber is a company that connects people needing a ride to approved drivers in the area. The riders and logged-in drivers match with one another on the company’s smartphone app, which supplies the driver with details as to where the rider needs to be picked up from and dropped off at. The company’s app also processes all payments for the ride, and keeps a share of the earnings (5-20 percent) for itself, while depositing the rest of the fare into the driver’s account.
In 2012, Lyft began offering similar rideshare services and became Uber’s strongest competitor. While Uber is worldwide, Lyft has remained mostly in North America. While Uber has branched off into offering a variety of services, including scooter rentals and food delivery, Lyft has continued to obtain most of its revenue through its ridesharing program. Other rideshare companies have joined the fray, offering their own twist on this new digital transportation model, but Uber and Lyft are the two companies taking the majority of the rideshare market share.
Today, according to Statistica, about 95 million customers use Uber a month worldwide. Lyft’s services were used by about 32 million people each month in the United States. An estimated 37 percent of individuals aged 16 to 24 actively use Uber. About a quarter of Uber users in the United States use the rideshare’s services at least once a month. Users state that their favorite thing about rideshare apps is the convenience. Users are most likely to seek the services of a rideshare when going to or from dinner or a party.
But their drivers get into accidents. It was New Year’s Eve near Tampa, and two Uber passengers thought they were doing the right thing by using a rideshare to transport them for the evening instead of risking the consequences of drinking and driving. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way, as the vehicle they were riding in was hit by an alleged drunk driver.
The accident caused the death of one of the passengers and injuries to the other passenger, as well as the Uber driver. The two injured individuals were taken to the hospital but were expected to survive. The 41-year-old alleged drunk driver was arrested and charged with multiple DUI-related crimes, including DUI manslaughter and two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury.
How Are Rideshares Different from Taxis?
Rideshare platforms are essentially “dispatchers” that facilitate the transportation arrangement between the rider and the driver. The entire process, except for the ride itself, takes place on the app, with the rideshare company setting the fare for the trip and providing that information in an in-app display for the passenger before the passenger completes the ordering process.
Rideshare drivers have, since the concept’s inception, been considered by the platforms as independent contractors, meaning they choose when they want to work, receive no set wage or benefit package from the rideshare company, and are responsible for the payment of taxes for their earnings. Most rideshare drivers use their own vehicles for the job, though Uber and Lyft both offer opportunities for drivers to lease vehicles for a fee.
Taxi cab drivers are sometimes employees of a taxi company and may work set shifts. They may not own their own vehicles. Their customers may arrange for a ride through a website or app, but taxi drivers may also accept “hailed” rides where the passenger sees them and flags them down on the street. The vehicles they drive are generally branded with the company logo and have an exterior light that illuminates when the driver is available to provide transport services.
Are Drivers Properly Vetted?
There is plenty of news coverage on rideshare dangers that beg the question as to whether anyone is allowed to drive. However, Uber and Lyft both have certain criteria that those applying to become drivers are required to meet, including:
- Age requirements. Both companies require drivers to be at least 21 years old. However, in most places in Florida, drivers are required to be at least 25.
- Vehicle condition. The driver’s personal vehicle that he or she plans to use for ridesharing must be in good repair and relatively new. In most places, vehicles cannot be older than 10-15 years. The vehicle must have four doors and must be registered and insured in accordance with state laws.
- The drivers must be medically fit to provide the service and have a valid driver’s license. Additionally, they must pass a background check and have an acceptable previous driving record.
Both rideshare companies have branched out to offer additional services, including luxury vehicle transport services, which may have different requirements.
Whose Insurance Will Cover My Injuries?
If you’re involved in an accident in which you are a rideshare passenger, rideshare driver, or you’re an occupant of another vehicle involved in an accident caused by a rideshare driver, the insurance available to compensate you for your injuries depends on:
- Your PIP insurance: If you have a vehicle registered in Florida or someone in your family who resides in the same household as you does, you may be able to access PIP to cover 80 percent of your medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. This coverage should be available to you even if you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle. If you are injured in an accident with a rideshare driver’s vehicle while you’re a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, their PIP coverage will likely be extended to you.
- The driver’s personal insurance: If you’re involved in an accident with a rideshare driver while you are driving your own vehicle or are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, the driver’s personal insurance may come into play after you’ve exceeded your PIP limit or if you’ve incurred an injury that meets the state’s serious injury threshold.
- The driver’s personal insurance if you’re a passenger: If you’re a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, your driver’s PIP insurance will not cover you as PIP is not available for commercial uses.
- The rideshare company’s insurance policy: If you’re a passenger in a rideshare vehicle, the rideshare company has a policy to cover you if you’re in an accident during transport. Both Uber and Lyft provide similar coverages of up to $1 million of bodily injury or uninsured motorist coverage for accidents that occur while a driver is transporting a passenger.
- Insurance coverage if you’re the rideshare driver: Uber and Lyft offer tiered coverage when it comes to drivers and accidents. If you’re a driver for one of these companies and you are involved in an accident while you’re using your car for personal purposes without your driver app engaged, your own insurance will cover your damages—including your PIP policy that you’re required to have in accordance with Florida’s no-fault law. If you’re involved in an accident while your driver app is turned on but you haven’t accepted a ride, each company provides limited coverage for bodily injury, uninsured motorists, and property damage liability. If you have your app turned on and you’re either en route to pick up a passenger or you have a passenger in your vehicle when the accident occurs, the rideshare company’s full $1 million policy may be in play.
- Another driver’s insurance: If you’re a rideshare driver or passenger and you’re injured in an accident caused by someone else, their insurance policy may be accessible through a third-party claim.
An insurance gap for drivers exists at the point where they’re logged into their app and waiting for a ride. At this point, if they’re involved in an accident, their personal insurance likely won’t cover their damages as they’re using their personal vehicle for commercial purposes. However, the insurance that the rideshare companies offer at this stage is minimal and is mainly centered around liability for injuries you cause to others rather than injuries that you may experience yourself. This is why many insurance companies offer additional coverage for rideshare drivers that picks up the part of the gig that involves being available to accept rides but not transporting a passenger.
Unfortunately, many times insurance companies use the presence of the word “rideshare” to deny claims, either as the insurer of the driver, or the rideshare company. It is important to have an experienced uber accident attorney on your side who understands how rideshares work and how the laws are designed to protect accident victims, whether as passengers or drivers of their own car or of a rideshare vehicle.
Can Uber or Lyft Be Named as Liable Parties in Lawsuits?
Uber and Lyft have both built a cushion around themselves in regard to liability for wrongful acts by their drivers. By designating their drivers as independent contractors, they not only save money that would be spent on payroll and benefits for driver employees, but they also limit their liability in civil claims for cases involving everything from the wrongful death of a pedestrian while testing a self-driving car with a backup driver to a driver having a gun in the vehicle, contrary to company policy. The rideshare companies instead insist that they are merely intermediaries or “technology companies” who are not responsible for providing transportation services.
Lawmakers in various states, including California and New York, are currently battling this designation, pushing for rideshare drivers to be designated as employees, entitled to minimum wage and afforded the legal protection of the company that hires them. While the companies are intensely fighting this designation, it stands to change the rideshare game once again if these laws succeed and additional states follow suit.
In the face of the California law that seeks to limit a company’s ability to designate those doing the work that it derives revenue from as independent contractors, Uber, Lyft, and other gig companies are seeking a compromise that may allow them to continue to use their current business models while offering additional employee-type perks such as a minimum pay for the hours they work, a benefit fund to provide for paid time off, and the development of a drivers’ association to advocate for their interests.
In a joint letter, the companies stated that this challenge is “an opportunity to work with legislators and labor groups to find a different solution” that not only allows drivers to continue working independently when they want, but also to “improve the quality and security of that work.”
Additional Tampa Ridesharing Frequently Asked Quesitons FAQs
If you use a ridesharingservice for transportation, you are not alone. According to research by the Pew Research Center, approximately half of the nation’s population aged 18 to 29 use the service, with usage among other age groups growing. Understanding how ridesharingworks and what happens when your ride turns tragic is essential information for customers. If you experienced a serious injury due to a negligent Uber, Lyft, or another type of ridesharingdriver, you may want to contact our Tampa rideshare lawyers without delay.
Learning more about ridesharingservices is important for your safety. Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding ridesharing services to help you better understand this growing industry.
What is the difference between Uber and Lyft?
Uber and Lyft are among the most popular ridesharingservices. Uber launched in 2009, and Lyft was not far behind, launching in 2012. Both offer similar services and use an app. Uber offers not just transportation but has also branched into UberEats, a food delivery service. Both Uber and Lyft are researching the use of self-driving cars and deploying bicycles and even scooters.
The two services rely on independent contractors who furnish their own vehicles. While the rise of the ridesharingservice has provided a source of income for many Americans, it has not been a smooth road for the industry. Finding the perfect balance for driver background checks and passenger safety has lawmakers questioning key issues, such as no fingerprinting of drivers.
What steps do Uber and Lyft take to investigate drivers?
Using a ridesharingservice means that the driver—a stranger to you—is safe and responsible. Background checks regarding drivers’ convictions of prior moving violations and their criminal records were standard in the beginning.
Recently, however, Colorado regulators discovered that Uber had 57 drivers with felony convictions or moving traffic convictions. This discovery resulted in the state fining Uber more than $8 million. A different discovery by CNN found that more than 100 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assault. The network’s research also discovered 18 cases involving sexual assault or abuse among Lyft drivers—with four of the drivers convicted for their actions.
To improve the research into driver’s backgrounds, both Uber and Lyft conduct continuous background checks. The rolling or continuous checks alert the companies if a driver becomes charged with a felony or a moving traffic violation. A driver’s history or recent charges can slip through the cracks of even the most rigorous background checks. If that driver is the one that transported you, give careful thought to contacting Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman today.
How do ridesharing drivers lose control of their vehicles?
A ridesharingdriver is not unlike any other driver along Tampa streets and highways. The same type of dangers can take place behind the wheel, placing you as the passenger at risk for serious harm.
The following are just a few examples of actions that may cause your ride to go horribly wrong in a second:
- Distracted driving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines distracted driving as any activity that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off driving. According to the CDC, approximately nine people die each day in distracted driving-related crashes, and approximately 1,000 people suffer serious injuries.
- Drunk driving. Despite the known risks, drunk driving continues as a serious problem on our nation’s roadways. Data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles shows that more than 5,900 alcohol-related crashes occurred in just one year alone. Alcohol’s effect on the brain can trick a driver into feeling invincible, according to research. If your driver caused an accident due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, seek justice by contacting an attorney.
- Aggressive driving. Navigating crowded streets and heavy traffic can stress the calmest driver. For a ridesharingdriver who is eager to get as much work as possible, speeding and tailgating can escalate into road rage. As a passenger, you are at the mercy of the driver who may run a red light, endangering your life and potentially even resulting in serious injuries for you.
- Drowsy driving. A lack of sleep can lead to drowsy driving—a condition similar to drunk driving due to the lack of judgment and poor reaction time that drowsy driving causes. A survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 96 percent of those drivers stated that they view drowsy driving as a real danger. Twenty-nine percent of survey participants admitted to driving drowsy within the past month.
These are just a few examples of how your Uber or Lyft ride can turn tragic due to dangerous driver behavior. Your serious injuries were most likely preventable, had the driver used proper care. You should not pay for medical bills that result due to another party’s negligence. If this happened to you, you should contact us today.
Who is liable for my injuries in an accident caused by a ride-share driver?
The moment you suffer a serious injury, your medical bills will start to accumulate. From medical transport to doctors’ and hospital fees, the costs can continue to climb if you need future or lifetime medical care. Your injuries are not fair, and you deserve quality medical care.
Uber and Lyft carry insurance policies and require the drivers to do the same. The maximum allowed under the policies, however, is most likely not enough to cover your medical costs, missed time from work, and your pain and suffering.
Who covers what depends upon when the accident occurred.
Determining factors regarding insurance coverage include whether:
- The driver had the app turned off.
- The driver was waiting for a ride request.
- The driver was picking up a passenger or actively transporting a passenger.
A personal injury lawyer can review the police report, accident scene photos, and interview witnesses to your accident. This information can help the attorney determine liability for your accident injuries. Upon careful review of your case, your lawyer can negotiate with one or more insurance companies for a fair settlement or take your case to trial, if necessary.
Should I accept a settlement offer from an insurance company?
Not without first having an attorney review the settlement offer. An initial settlement offer may seem like a quick solution to your financial stress. High-pressure tactics by aggressive insurance representatives during your most vulnerable time may confuse you into believing that the insurance company has your best interests in mind. Do not give in to its pressure; secure legal representation as soon as possible.
Signing and accepting a settlement offer without a lawyer present may leave you without legal options later. If your medical condition worsens, you may lose the right to seek additional compensation after you already accepted a settlement.
The laws involving personal injury cases are complex and require the skills of a personal injury lawyer. Pursuing the best option for your case is essential for protecting your future financial needs. The right Florida personal injury lawyer will negotiate for a fair settlement while, at the same time, also prepare for trial. While most personal injury cases settle out of court, a case may go to trial. Choosing a personal injury lawyer with trial experience is essential to ensure the best outcome possible.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations in Florida is a state law regarding the timeline that a personal injury plaintiff must abide by. The law allows a certain amount of time for filing your car accident case. Once the time passes, your chance of pursuing compensation may be lost forever.
The law allows four years for most personal injury cases. This may seem like a long time; however, it can pass before you know it. The days, week, and months following your accident can blur together, leaving you confused as to the day and month. A personal injury lawyer can keep track of important deadlines while handling the details of your case. It’s easy to put off contacting a personal injury lawyer, but it is among the most important steps you can take following your accident.
How will a Tampa ridesharing lawyer help me?
A personal injury lawyer can afford you the peace-of-mind you need during this difficult time. Knowing someone is protecting your best interests allows you to focus on other important issues, like that of your health and recovery.
Personal injury lawyers work to protect the rights of accident victims. The personal injury lawyer you hire will keep you informed throughout your case, so you are never left wondering about its status. Your attorney can also stand up to large insurance companies and opposing lawyers.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations. By contacting one today, you can take your first step toward justice and compensation.
Do ridesharing lawyers handle wrongful death cases?
Yes, most personal injury lawyers handle wrongful death cases, as well. If you lost a loved one due to a negligent ridesharing driver, an injury lawyer can help you seek justice. Your eligibility for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit depends upon your relationship with the victim.
Lawyers with experience in wrongful death law cases understand your enormous grief and stress. They treat family members with compassion and defend against insurance company aggression. Each wrongful death case is different, and the outcome of your case will depend upon the details of the ridesharingaccident. Types of compensation often possible in wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Final medical expenses for your loved one
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of income
- Loss of potential future earnings
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of companionship
No amount of money can replace your loved one, however, it may ease your financial burden. The Florida statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years, half the time allowed for personal injury cases. Do not miss your opportunity for possible justice on behalf of your loved one’s memory. If your loved one died due to the negligence of a ridesharingdriver, consider legal action.
Are all ridesharing drivers dangerous?
No. Remember, it only takes one driver to change your life forever. The moment drivers choose to engage in dangerous behaviors behind the wheel, they place themselves, their passengers, and everyone around them in danger.
Serious injuries can leave you unable to lift your child or to return to your career. Requesting a ride from an Uber or Lyft driver should not leave you in the hospital or result in the death of your loved one. One driver who slips through the background checks undetected may have a criminal record or moving traffic violations. If that’s the driver who picked you up for a ridesharing request, you may be at risk.
As a passenger, you trust that you will arrive safely at your destination. When an Uber or a Lyft driver crashes and leaves you seriously injured, exploring your legal options is where a personal injury lawyer can help you. Ridesharing services like that of Uber and Lyft provide a match between those seeking income and those seeking transportation.
Time is of the essence due to the statute of limitations regarding civil cases. Contacting a personal injury attorney for your Tampa ridesharinginjuries is as easy as a phone call or reaching out to one online. Personal injury attorneys are on your side, and they want to help you by providing the legal representation you need to protect your best interests.
Uber, Lyft, and other similar services can help you navigate a new town or arrive safely home after a night out with friends. While most drivers successfully transport their passengers, a negligent driver can lose control in an instant.
Do not let an insurance company pressure you into accepting less compensation than you deserve. If you were seriously injured due to a negligent Uber or Lyft driver—or you lost a loved one under similar circumstances—consider retaining a Tampa ridesharing attorney today.
Call Our Tampa Rideshare Attorneys Now
While rideshare services indeed provide convenient transportation and a simple way for drivers to make money, the current model not only comes with inherent risks for all concerned, but also offers significant legal complexities when it comes to determining liability and compensation after an accident.
If you were injured in an accident involving a rideshare—either as a passenger, driver, or the occupant of another car—our experienced Tampa rideshare lawyer can help you understand the process of seeking compensation. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can contact us online for a free case evaluation.