Rideshare Accident Attorneys
Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way many people get around. Previously limited to busses, taxis, or the subway, now with the touch of a button on a smartphone, would-be passengers can order a peer-to-peer ride which will appear usually within minutes. There is no doubt that ridesharing is convenient and affordable. However, this convenience does not come without risk.
By 2010, just before ridesharing services became widespread, the total number of fatal car accidents sank to 32,885 nationwide, the lowest since 1949 according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A 2018 study by the University of Chicago and Rice University researchers shows that once companies like Uber and Lyft began aggressively expanding, the number of fatal car accidents nationwide increased 2-3%.
In addition to the increase in auto accidents, rideshare companies have received negative press due to other types of legal issues, including theft, violent assaults, and sexual assaults on passengers by their drivers.
At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to negligence, contact our office today for a free consultation.
Other Types of Rideshare
Ridesharing isn’t limited to just motor vehicles anymore. Since 2013, the Chicagoland area has been home to the Lyft-owned bicycle sharing system Divvy. Divvy has 580 stations and 5,800 across Chicago, allowing natives and tourists to experience what the city has to offer via bicycle 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
E-Scooters, or electric scooters, are another rideshare service that Chicago has recently implemented in a pilot program that was initially to run from June-October 2019 with 10 scooter vendors. Available from 5am-10pm, scooters are located via the appropriate company app and unlocked for use, then they can be parked anywhere (no docking station needed), subject to the same parking requirements as a personal bicycle.
The E-Scooter pilot program has proven popular with non-drivers around the city, and even with 21 emergency room visits in the first two weeks of the program, the E-Scooter program looks to be something that will remain in Chicago for the long term.
Divvy and E-Scooters have very few regulations, only requiring that those using the services be at least 16-years old. Riders do not need to have a license, nor do they need to prove that they understand the rules of the road, and helmets, while provided at some service stations, are not required.
Across the U.S. there are 600-800 fatal bicycle accidents annually, with 75% of these accidents occurring in major metropolitan cities like Chicago. Both E-Scooters and Divvy bicycles are popular alternative methods of ridesharing, but they too are subject to the same causes of other rideshare accidents and these accidents are often more serious and deadly.
Common Causes of Rideshare Accidents
Rideshare accidents happen for many of the same reasons as any other vehicle accident. Drivers for Uber and Lyft are often struggling to make ends meet, which means they are spending long hours behind the wheel and could be struggling with fatigue, or they could be distracted by their cellphone or GPS system trying to navigate in an unfamiliar area. Those that are using Divvy or E-Scooters are much smaller, less protected, and more difficult to see, putting them at risk for serious accidents and injuries.
At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of victims of auto accidents to see justice served and be compensated for their injuries and losses, and some common causes of these accidents include:
- Speeding – Rideshare drivers that are trying to complete their route as quickly as possible may be tempted to drive faster than is legal.
- Distracted driving – Rideshare drivers or riders can be distracted by any number of things including their passengers, a GPS system, their cellphone, or time limits.
- Driver fatigue – Rideshare drivers often work for both Uber and Lyft, putting them on the road for long hours, especially when they can receive incentives the more routes that they complete. While Chicago regulates the number of hours a rideshare driver can be working to 10 hours in a 24-hour period (9 ILCS 115-190), a tired driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver.
- Inexperience – Both Uber and Lyft only require their drivers to have a minimum of one (1) year experience as a licensed driver depending on their age. An inexperienced driver or rider may not know how to handle challenging road situations, especially when rideshare companies do not require special training for any of their drivers or riders.
- Driving under the influence – Driver sobriety is expected, but not guaranteed. Drunk driving puts everyone on the roadways at-risk.
Rideshare Accident FAQs
- Can I sue Uber/Lyft after an accident?
- Does Uber/Lyft screen their drivers?
- Are rideshare drivers/riders required to have special training?
- What should I do if I’m in an accident with Uber/Lyft/Divvy/E-Scooters?
- Will I lose access to ridesharing apps if I file a claim against the company?
- What are the costs of hiring a lawyer?
Rideshare Driver Requirements
To drive for Uber or Lyft in Chicago, drivers are required to meet certain requirements, which are similar for both rideshare companies. These basic requirements include:
- The driver must be at least 21 years old with a social security number
- Be licensed to drive in the U.S. for at least one year, or three years if they are under the age of 23
- Have access to a 4-door vehicle that is less than 15-years old and has no cosmetic damage and passes a vehicle inspection
- Have in-state auto insurance with the driver’s name on the policy
- Have an in-state license plate with valid registration
- Pass a background and motor vehicle check
Uber and Lyft run similar background checks on their potential drivers. This background check, which is run using a candidate’s name and social security number, looks into their driving and criminal background for the past seven years and includes such things as the following:
- Major moving violations – DUI’s and reckless driving
- Minor moving violations – Speeding tickets or failure to obey traffic laws
- Criminal convictions – Felonies, violent crimes, rape, or other sexual offenses
For a driver to be hired by a rideshare company they cannot have any major moving violations in the past seven years, less than three minor moving violations in the past three years, and no criminal convictions.
Uber and Lyft do not perform these background checks themselves, instead, contracting them out to a third-party background checking company at no fee to the potential rideshare driver, however, both Uber and Lyft have the final say in hiring a driver.
The background checks that both companies use have come under fire, though. Some experts worry that the background check is too general and should be conducted in a similar fashion as the background checks that commercial drivers are required to undergo and pay for on their own. And, because Uber and Lyft do not require an interview with a potential driver, these experts worry that some crucial red flags could be missed.
Rideshare Insurance Issues
Rideshare drivers are not considered employees of the company they drive for but are instead considered third-party contractors. This can make for some difficulty in determining who is responsible for the damages following a rideshare accident.
Both Uber and Lyft have similar policies regarding their drivers and auto insurance. To drive for either rideshare company, the driver must carry Illinois’ state minimum in personal auto insurance, which will apply when the driver is not considered “on app” or working. When the driver is working, or “on app”, a supplemental insurance policy will be provided by the rideshare company and coverage will vary depending on when the accident happened during the ride.
Offline or app is off
- Personal auto insurance coverage applies
Available or waiting for a ride request
- $50,000 in bodily injury per person
- $100,000 in bodily injury per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
En route to pick up riders and during trips
- $1,000,000 third-party liability
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury
- Contingent comprehensive and collision up to the actual cash value of the vehicle ($1,000 deductible)
While rideshare companies have made transportation easier, they have made it more difficult to pursue compensation for your damages and injuries following a rideshare accident because of the various insurance companies involved. Remember, insurance companies are a business first and foremost and their goal is to make as much money as possible while paying you, the victim, as little as possible.
If you have never been involved in any type of rideshare accident, you may be unaware of the tactics that insurance companies will use to either lowball you (offer a settlement that is deliberately much less than you are asking for), or find a way to dismiss your claim totally, especially if the rideshare company disputes the claim of liability. If you are negotiating alone, you may also be tempted to take the first offer that the insurance company representing the rideshare provider gives to you. This amount might appear adequate, but if you accept this offer and it doesn’t cover all of your expenses, including future or long-term accident-related medical complications, you cannot file another claim or receive any further compensation for that accident.
Personal injury lawyers understand the complexities of rideshare accidents, how to negotiate with insurance companies, and they can help to determine what compensation is fair for your unique rideshare accident. Having an experienced attorney on your side ensures that your rights are protected, and you can receive full compensation for your losses, including lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Compensation After A Rideshare Accident
If you’ve been injured in a rideshare accident due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages and injuries. Contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation to discuss your case and determine what compensation you may receive.
While each personal injury case will be unique, studies show that the average settlement is three times higher for those that utilize the help of an attorney than when they try to negotiate alone. Some of the most common forms of compensation you may expect following a rideshare accident include:
- Medical expenses – This includes medical immediately following the accident as well as future medical expenses that are related to your rideshare accident.
- Lost wages – You may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages following your accident, future lost wages, and lost opportunities you could not earn due to your accident.
- Disfigurement/disability – If a rideshare accident victim is left with visible scarring, a permanent disability, or their life was altered in a manner that they cannot attend to pre-accident activities, they may have a claim for either.
- Emotional distress/pain and suffering – Depending on the severity and type of rideshare accident, an accident victim may be able to recover these “non-economic” damages.
- Punitive damages – If the behavior of a rideshare driver can be shown to be especially egregious or reckless, such as cases involving driving under the influence, a judge may award punitive damages to punish the driver, dissuade them from continuing such behavior in the future, and making an example of their behavior to others.
- Wrongful death – The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows the next of kin of a deceased rideshare accident victim to be compensated for such things as pain and suffering of the decedent prior to their death, medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, loss of consortium, and loss of financial support.
Preparing for a Rideshare Accident Case
Rideshare cases are unique in that when a passenger accepts a ride from a rideshare driver, they automatically accept the terms and conditions for that rideshare company. Both Uber and Lyft have similar terms that state many legal claims brought against them shall be held in arbitration or small claims court.
However, depending on the severity and seriousness of a rideshare accident, a trial against Uber or Lyft could be possible. The lawyers at Mike Agruss Law thoroughly prepare for each case as if they could go to trial, which consistently results in larger settlements.
Some of the steps that we take to prepare for a rideshare accident case include:
- Collecting police reports
- Speaking with witnesses and securing their statements
- Obtaining medical records and discussing permanency of injuries
- Hiring accident experts and investigators
- Photographing the accident scene, vehicles involved, and injuries
- Communicating with the insurance company or companies
Free Rideshare Accident Case Review
Following a rideshare accident, you may be unsure where to turn. Rideshare companies are notorious for trying to shift the blame away from themselves and deny any liability for your injuries and damages. The insurance company representing the rideshare provider may offer you very little for your injuries or deny your claim completely. A rideshare accident case can be both frustrating and confusing.
If you or a loved one were injured in a rideshare accident due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages and injuries. Contact Mike Agruss Law for a free consultation. We are an Illinois statewide-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have been injured in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, we are not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. There is no risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.
Cities We Serve
In addition to the Chicago area, Mike Agruss Law serves the following cities: