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Ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber have created a legal nightmare

Rideshare companies such asUber,Lyft, andSideCar have adapted modern Internet technology to revolutionize modern urban transportation. Yet, at the same time, this same revolution has led to the creation of legal issues that were largely unknown just a few years ago.

Attorney Jimmy Doan, the Founder and Managing Partner at the Doan Law Firm, explains how the well-established principles of liability in automobile accidents are themselves undergoing the changes necessary to adapt to new applications of such rapidly-developing technology.

Rideshares, background checks, and liability insurance coverage

Depending on who you talk to, or whose websites that you trust, rideshares (technically, “real-time ridesharing companies“) are either the greatest boon to public transportation since the horseless carriage or the biggest rip-off since bootlegged taxi medallions hit Times Square!

Although “common carriers” such as taxicab companies and limousine services are required by law to conduct both criminal background and motor vehicle driving record checks, rideshares are usually able to exploit a “loophole” in the law and avoid the expenses involved with such investigations. As you might imagine, the lack of such requirements has caused rideshares some embarrassing moments.

  • Background checks

It has been widely reported that neither Lyft nor Uber requires fingerprinting or a law enforcement agency criminal background check prior to granting a driver full access to their respective company’s software. In fact,CNN aired an investigation this past summer alleging “thousands” of convicted criminals had been hired as drivers by Uber even though “a simple internet search …” would have turned easily-locatable news accounts detailing drivers with multiple previous felony convictions who were later convicted of sexually assaulting passengers.

  • Liability insurance

If you are injured in an automobile accident that isnot your fault, such as if you are injured while a passenger in a rideshare, you will generally turn to the rideshare’s corporate liability insurance carrier for coverage of your expenses. Both Lyft and Uber carry liability insurance that protect passengers in case of an accident and, with certain minor differences, both companies’ coverage is essentially the same.

For Lyft, their corporate insurance provides:

  • Contingent liability (coverageonly while in “driver mode” waiting for a ride request or while transporting a paying passenger)
  • Contingent comprehensive & collision (coverage as above)
  • Primary automobile liability
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM)

Since rideshare liability insurance is usually “in force”only when transporting a passenger or while en route to meet a passenger, it stands to reason that a rideshare’s insurance coverage isnot “in force” most of the time. When that is the case, only the driver’s personal automobile liability insurance coverage is available in case of an accident. If that is indeed the case, it may be almost as if the driver had no insurance at all!

Rideshare divers are independent contractors, not employees

It is an established principle of law that an employer is usually responsible for the actions of its employees, particularly if an employee causes an auto accident while at work and the accident causes an injury to someone else. In the case of a rideshare, the employer is able toavoid liability by classifying the driver as anindependent contractor rather than employee. This means that when the driver is not on the way to pick up a passenger, or not transporting a passenger, the rideshare is “off the hook” in the event of an accident.

However, if the driver’s personal auto insurance does not have the appropriate endorsements that provide coverage while the driver is employed as an independent contractor by a rideshare and an accident occurs, the driver’s private insurance carrier is not required to “pay up” and will probably immediately cancel the policy. Hence, the “no insurance” analogy.

If you are injured in an accident…

As is the case with any other accident, being involved in a rideshare accident usually involves injuries that will require medical care that you are in no position to afford. When you factor in you lost income from being unable to work, your once affordable costs of living can suddenly seem almost too much to bear.

If the above seems to describe your situation following your rideshare accident injury, you probably have no recourse except to contact a rideshare accident injury law firm such as the Doan Law Firm for a complimentary review of the facts in your case and the advisability of filing a personal injury lawsuit to protect yourself from personal disability and financial ruin.

Why hire a ride-sharing lawyer

As you have seen, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft have revolutionized “on-demand” urban transportation. Even though the success of such innovations have largely been at the expense of more traditional services such as taxicabs and chartered limousines, the long-established doctrine of liability for damages via responsibility for an accident has yet to be overturned by the courts.

In summary, if you are injured while a passenger in a ride-share vehicle, or if your injury was due to your vehicle being struck by another vehicle that was being operated as a ride-shareand your own negligence did not contribute to your injuries, you will probably be able to file a lawsuit against your driver or the party whose carelessness or intentional disregard for the traffic laws directly led to your injuries.

If you were injured in an accident while a passenger in a rideshare, or were involved in an accident that was caused by a rideshare driver, we invite you to contact our rideshare accident injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury law practice with offices located in major cities throughout the country.

When you contact the Doan Law Firm to arrange a free review of your rideshare injury case, you first consultation with us is always free and does not obligate you in any way to hiring us to represent you in court. Should you decide that you would like for us to manage your rideshare injury case, we are always willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.

As always, we think you for visiting the website of the Doan Law Firm. If we may be of further assistance, or if you have other questions, please feel free to contact our firm at your convenience.

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