THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - PROVIDING COMPASSIONATE REPRESENTATION TO CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS OF CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
I must make an admission, I was late coming around to Uber and Lyft. I've always been wired to be so analytical. My wife constantly goads me about how I will take 10 minutes to even pick a bottle of Ketchup from the shelf (its not that bad but you get the point). So, I was always reluctant to use Uber or Lyft because I'm a creature of habit and have always preferred to have my car at my disposal. Then I had my glorious conversion to Uber in Orlando, FL. A few years back, I finally was able to get a few days off to take my daughter to Sea World. It had been a lifelong dream of hers . . . she is fanatical about dolphins and orcas! Long story short, the first day in Orlando, we hop in my car and literally drive 1.2 miles from the hotel to the entrance for Sea World parking. Well, $25.00 dollars later and a 10 minute walk from the car and we arrived to the front gate of the park. As we are walking in, I notice all these passenger cars dropping people off in the taxi line directly in front of the main gate. You already know don't you . . . yes it was the drop off for Uber and Lyft passengers (directly in front of the entrance). So guess what we did the next morning to go to the park . . . yes . . . $6.00 dollars and right in front! My conversion was complete!
UBER GOT ME THINKING . . . LIABILITY IN UBER CAR ACCIDENTS
Of course being a lawyer, it took all of about two minutes for my brain to jump to the next logical step for any car accident attorney. How would liability be established in a wreck involving an Uber or Lyft driver? At the end of the day, if I am representing an innocent passenger who has been injured in one of these accidents, exactly who would I try to hold accountable for the damages?
The more I racked my brain on this I came up with four possible answers to this question. The potential people who would be responsible for compensating my client would be:
- Uber as a business, the corporation
- The Uber or Lyft driver
- The other driver, if he/she is at fault
- Possible negligence due to premises liability theories (bad / improper signage, poorly maintained road)
WHO IS TO BLAME AND WHO IS TO PAY IN AN UBER ACCIDENT?
Despite everything that is going on as far a the business relationship between Uber and its driver, answering who is to blame and thus, who is to pay, would work in this situation just like any other auto accident.
The most common scenario would be that the accident was the fault of another person. A third-party who was driving a car in a negligent manner and struck your Uber driver's vehicle. Under this scenario, with established liability against the third-party driver, you would prepare a claim to file against the insurance carrier of the third-party operator who struck your Uber driver.
WHO DO I FILE A CLAIM AGAINST IF IT IS THE UBER DRIVER'S FAULT?
Of course, Uber drivers are using their own cars. Usually there are two levels of protection. First, state law will require the Uber / Lyft driver to carry the state minimum limits for liability insurance. Second, the Uber / Lyft driver usually has to provide and update this insurance to the corporation in order to stay contracted.
Therefore, in carrying this forward in a logical manner, if you are injured in a car accident while riding in an Uber, and the wreck is the Uber driver's fault (liability), then your claim for your compensable injuries will be filed against the insurance carrier of the Uber driver.
In addition, Uber and Lyft are required to provide insurance to their contractors as well. If an Uber / Lyft driver is on duty at the time of an accident, then any injuries from that accident would be covered by the employer's insurance. This same arrangement would also be in place for taxi drivers as well.
WHO ELSE COULD BE LIABLE FOR MY INJURIES IN AN UBER?
In some jurisdictions, courts have found that Uber / Lyft drivers should be considered employees and not contractors. Why is this important? If you are injured in a jurisdiction where Uber drivers are considered employees, then you have potential access to the insurance and assets of the company itself. Though this would not be an issue in most cases, if there were serious injuries or even death, the recovery would extend beyond the driver to the company. Vicarious Liability and agency theories would allow a victim to pursue compensation directly from the corporation. This theory would work identical to a situation where you were injured by a negligent employee while he / she was driving a company car.
One final source of liability could be what I would call "passive actors." What does this mean? Well, did the accident occur at an intersection where the stop sign is not visible due to tree branches? Is the road poorly marked? Is there a lack of signaling for traffic or a lack of street lights? This potential theory of liability would be more rooted in causes of action based on premises liability. This would possibly involve suing a government entity or a private land owner depending on the location of the accident.
THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - YOUR CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
As a Personal Injury lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights and work to secure compensation for your injuries as a victim of a car accident. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced car accident lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306