Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have exploded in popularity throughout the United States, including here in Chicago. No longer are residents limited to using their own vehicles or relying on public transportation to get around. But with the expansion of these programs comes an increase in the number of passengers injured in a ridesharing accident.
The rules concerning rideshare liability are different than for other types of car accidents. You deserve to understand your legal options in the event you’ve been injured. The personal injury attorneys of Hale & Monico are passionate about accident victims’ rights, and we work to secure the compensation our clients need to get back to their lives.
What Is Ridesharing – And How Does It Differ From Chicago Public Transportation?
Taxis, buses, trains, and other forms of traditional public transportation generally have set routes, and it’s up to a passenger to find a cab or other vehicle so they can catch a ride. Uber and Lyft are user-based services by which the passenger can directly request a driver to come pick him or her up. This on-demand service is made possible by downloading an app onto the user’s phone, which can then be accessed to request and pay for a nearby driver. Passengers can even track the location of their drivers using GPS to determine how soon they will arrive.
Whereas taxis and other traditional modes are regulated as transportation entities, rideshares are classified as tech companies. Rideshare drivers are just ordinary motorists with vehicles who, for a fee, will transport paying passengers to their destinations. They do not have the same sort of training that a taxi driver or bus operator has. This has implications for liability as well as for the potential injuries which a rideshare user may suffer.
What Kinds Of Injuries Can A Passenger Sustain In A Ridesharing Accident?
Because rideshare users rely on a driver’s own personal vehicle, the potential injuries are the same as those of any other automobile accident. These include:
- Neck and spinal cord injuries, such as muscle strains, whiplash, and herniated discs
- Head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and skull fractures
- Other bone fractures such as broken arms and legs
- Back problems
- Internal organ damage
In the most serious cases, rideshare accident victims will suffer permanent damage and disability, coma, or death. Regardless of the nature of your injuries, you should seek immediate medical attention if you are the victim of a rideshare accident. Some injuries do not manifest themselves until long after the accident or may appear relatively minor at first. Not obtaining the medical treatment you need will jeopardize your ability to collect damages later.
How Do I Recover Damages?
Collecting damages following a rideshare accident is much different than with taxi cabs and other forms of public transportation. One important fact to bear in mind is that Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies do not consider their drivers to be employees. Rather, they view them as independent contractors. This can make it far more difficult, though not impossible, to hold rideshare companies responsible after an accident.
Many of the major rideshare companies have insurance policies that cover their drivers, apart from whatever individual policies the drivers may hold. These amounts can vary from one company to another. An important initial question will be whether the driver was actually working for the rideshare at the time of the accident. In other words, was he or she transporting passengers or on the way to get them?
If an accident occurs while the driver is not on duty for the rideshare company, then the injured passenger may need to rely on the driver’s private insurance policy. In many cases, rideshare companies will deny that a driver was actually working for them at the time of the accident, in an attempt to shift responsibility to the driver’s insurance. You need an experienced Chicago ridesharing accident attorney who can navigate these competing policies and determine which party is liable.
Not all automobile accidents can completely be blamed on the rideshare driver – or even at all. Sometimes, third party drivers are partially or totally at fault. When other drivers or parties are responsible for an accident, collecting damages can prove that much more complicated. Your attorney will need to investigate the nature of the accident and determine who is liable, and in what proportion. Your claim or lawsuit could involve multiple drivers or defendants, so speak to a rideshare accident lawyer at your earliest convenience.
What Should I Do After Being Involved In A Ridesharing Accident in Chicago?
Your immediate concern should be getting the medical attention you or a loved one needs. Next, begin documenting as much about the accident as you can. Take notes on how it happened and under what circumstances (including time of day and weather conditions). If possible, get contact information for any other parties involved, and for any witnesses.
Start gathering all medical records related to your accident, as well as anything involving lost time from work and other consequences. These documents will prove critical in ensuring you receive the compensation you need.
You may be contacted by an insurance adjuster after the accident, either for the rideshare or for the driver. Remember, adjusters work for insurance companies, not for you. Their goal is to settle the matter as quickly and cheaply as possible. Before you speak with any insurance company, give us a call.
Contact Our Chicago Ridesharing Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a rideshare accident, trust Hale & Monico to fight back against big corporations like Uber and Lyft. We understand the difficulties you will face after a rideshare accident. Medical bills, time missed from work, and recovery can be daunting and even frightening. Our rideshare accident attorneys are here to help. Contact our office today for a free consultation.