Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies have changed the landscape of personal transportation in Florida and throughout the United States. Riders simply need to visit the app on their phone, put in payment information, and request a ride as needed. This convenience, however, comes with a cost. Rideshare drivers make careless choices while driving or don’t properly maintain their vehicles, which can lead to dangerous and deadly accidents for passengers and those who share the road.
If you’ve suffered injuries in a rideshare accident, it’s best to consult with an attorney who can navigate the complexities of these claims and advise you on your next steps. Here is a guide that provides answers to some frequently asked questions about rideshare accidents until you have that chance:
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What Types of Injuries Occur During Rideshare Accidents?
Rideshare accidents can result in many types of injuries like any traffic accident. Pedestrians and bicyclists are especially vulnerable to serious injuries if a rideshare driver strikes them. Riders, other drivers, and passengers in other vehicles have more protection. Yet, severe accidents, especially those that occur at high speeds, can lead to lifelong complications and disability for some. Examples of rideshare accident injuries include:
- Head and brain injuries occur when an object strikes an accident victim’s head upon impact. Additionally, the force of impact can lead to a brain injury when a sudden jolt to the head moves the brain around inside the skull. Traumatic brain injuries, often referred to as concussions, can lead to lifelong struggles with cognitive function and motor skills. Some brain injury victims experience personality changes and have trouble with vision, hearing, and other senses.
- Broken bones are not always serious injuries. Severe rideshare accidents, however, can lead to multiple fractures, especially if riders get pinned under a seat. Accident victims who suffer multiple broken bones often need reconstructive surgery. Even though surgery may fix the worst part of the injury, some experience pain and arthritis for decades after the accident.
- Neck and back injuries can be some of the most painful and costly rideshare accident injuries. Fractured vertebrae and slipped or herniated discs in the spine cause debilitating pain for some. In the worst-case scenario, pieces of bone from broken vertebrae can lodge into the spinal cord and cause permanent damage, often partial or full paralysis depending on the location. Minor sprains and strains often heal on their own, but severe injuries typically require surgery and victims often need a strict pain management regimen for life if they are fortunate enough to avoid paralysis.
- Amputations and crushed limbs are most likely to occur to drivers or backseat riders during a rideshare accident. Although a rideshare accident might result in the loss of an arm, legs are more common because they are more likely to get pinned under the steering column or a seat. If doctors cannot restore lost blood flow to crushed limbs, amputation is imminent. Amputees must cope with their loss on a physical and emotional level for the rest of their life.
Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Rideshare Accident?
If you are a registered driver in Florida, you must carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to comply with the state’s no-fault insurance laws. Your PIP coverage will typically cover minor injuries and a short time away from work if you are injured as a rider, pedestrian, cyclist, or you were in another vehicle. Note that Florida PIP coverage does not extend to motorcycle riders. Severe rideshare accidents quickly meet or exceed PIP limits, which means you have to take additional measures to cover your medical expenses. You are ultimately responsible to pay your bills, but you can file a claim against the rideshare driver and/or with the rideshare company’s insurance carrier to recover losses related to your medical expenses.
I Don’t Have PIP Insurance, So Now What?
Florida PIP insurance coverage extends to immediate family members who live in the same home. For example, if you are a college student who suffered injuries in a rideshare accident, your parents’ PIP coverage will pay for your medical expenses up to the policy limit. Some rideshare companies pay a limited amount towards medical expenses for those who do not own vehicles, but it typically will not make a dent in the massive treatment costs associated with severe accident injuries. Your best bet to ensure you get the compensation you need for treatment is to contact an experienced attorney.
Can I Sue a Rideshare Company After One of Their Drivers Caused an Accident?
Choosing who to name in a lawsuit after a rideshare accident isn’t always an easy task. Multiple parties make it difficult to determine liability and the driver’s status determines the extent to which the rideshare company might be liable for injuries from an accident. Additionally, rideshare drivers are not employees; they are independent contractors. This labor agreement protects rideshare companies from lawsuits related to accidents their drivers cause. Florida requires rideshare drivers to carry extra insurance and rideshare companies to provide extra coverage when drivers have riders. Situations in which the rideshare company might be partially or fully liable for a rideshare accident include:
- The rideshare company did perform a comprehensive criminal background check and driver history.
- The rideshare company ignored negative information from a background check.
- The rideshare company did not take action to suspend or fire a driver who had previous accidents or traffic violations.
Another Driver Caused a Rideshare Accident, Do I Still Sue the Rideshare Driver or Company?
You should always consult an attorney about who is best to name in a lawsuit because the facts of the case can influence that choice. Typically, once a rideshare accident victim files a PIP claim, they go after the party who caused the accident, even if it is a driver in another vehicle.
How Long Do I Have to Take Legal Action After a Rideshare Accident?
Under Florida law, those who suffer injuries in a rideshare accident have four years to bring a lawsuit against the rideshare driver and/or rideshare company who is allegedly liable for the accident. Eligible family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in the event they lose a loved one in a rideshare accident. You must take legal action for wrongful death within the two-year statute of limitations time period. Courts strictly comply with statutes of limitations, so it’s best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so you do not miss out on the opportunity to recover damages for your injuries or loss.
Do I Have to Go to Court After a Rideshare Accident?
The vast majority of rideshare accident claims settle long before going to trial. Some even settle without filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer will communicate with the relevant party, typically an insurance company, to negotiate a fair settlement. Insurance companies sometimes deny claims, and they almost always do what they can to devalue a claim. If settlement is not an option, your attorney will have to litigate your case. If you go to trial, it’s likely you will have to testify in court if the insurance company does not agree to a last-minute settlement.
How Much Is My Rideshare Accident Claim Worth?
The value of rideshare accident claims vary greatly based on the severity of your injuries, your long-term prognosis, and whether you contributed to causing the accident. A car accident attorney will add up economic losses such as medical expenses and lost wages, but sometimes need to include estimated future lost wages and future medical treatment costs. This often includes consulting with experts and considering similar past cases. Although we cannot provide a specific number, your attorney can usually give you a ballpark amount. The general rule of thumb is the more severe your injuries and the greater they impact your life, the higher your settlement or jury award will be.
How Can an Attorney Help After a Rideshare Accident?
The involvement of rideshare drivers, rideshare companies, riders, and potentially third parties often make rideshare accident claims muddy and complex. An attorney can handle the bothersome details of your claim while you focus on healing and recovery. Personal injury lawyers do more than push paperwork though, they advocate for their clients in many ways. Attorneys protect clients from shady insurance company tactics, investigate the facts of the accident, gather relevant evidence like medical records, police reports, and witness statements, and build a strong case for negligence against at-fault parties. Additionally, rideshare drivers have the rideshare company’s large insurance companies and legal teams in their corner. Experienced personal injury attorneys don’t get intimidated by companies like Uber and Lyft and fight to make sure their clients get the compensation they deserve for injuries and losses related to an accident.
Shiner Law Group has been advocating for accident injury victims for decades. We understand the challenges that come in the aftermath of serious injuries, and we are here to help. If you’ve suffered injuries in a rideshare accident, contact us today.