Crash with UBER or Lyft Driver? What happens if you are in an accident with a driver using one of the popular rideshare apps? Should you contact a personal injury law firm?

car accident injury attorney

Since 2009, when Uber launched in San Francisco, ride share apps have become extremely popular and are available to take people from Point A to Point B almost everywhere in the world. Uber and Lyft are the two largest ride sharing apps in the world. In 2017, Uber had over 7 million drivers.

No doubt the ride sharing apps have provided a much-needed convenience, but what has their impact been on safety on the roads? On the one hand, Uber and Lyft provide a safe way home for people after a night of drinking, and there is some evidence that these ride share apps have reduced drunk driving. But there is also evidence that links the increased popularity of ride share services to an increase in fatal car crashes. This evidence largely concludes that the increase in cars on the road as a result of Uber and Lyft has increased the number of traffic related deaths.

A more relevant question for many users of these ride share apps is what happens if they get injured in a crash while riding with an Uber or Lyft driver? Or similarly, what happens if they are travelling in another car and are hit by an Uber or Lyft driver? The answer is that these crashes are the same as any other crash as far as determining who is at fault and responsible, but the insurance company that pays the claim may be different.

In any car accident, the person who causes the accident or is to blame is responsible for any injury suffered by other parties. In some states, like Iowa, the owner of the vehicle may also be responsible, and if the driver was working at the time of the crash the driver’s employer may also be responsible. But Uber and Lyft don’t own the vehicles used for the service and they have repeatedly argued that the drivers are not their employees and so it is probably difficult to sue Uber or Lyft for an accident caused by one of their drivers. But that also likely doesn’t matter.

In almost all car accidents, the insurance company for the negligent driver pays any damages caused by the driver. Uber requires all of their drivers to carry car insurance. The driver’s personal auto insurance applies when the driver does not have their app on and is not taking riders. If an Uber driver has the app on and is simply available to drive or waiting for a driver, Uber provides insurance to that driver for injuries in the amount of $50,000 per person or a total of $100,000 per accident. If an Uber driver is traveling to pick up a passenger or has a passenger in the car, Uber provides $1,000,000 in liability insurance.

If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver, there are a few things you may want to do:

  1. Get a copy of the police report;

  2. Get any medical care that you need;

  3. Make sure you have the contact information for all of the drivers involved; and

  4. Decide if you want to speak with a car accident injury attorney.

Personal injury claims involving Uber or Lyft drivers can present somewhat complicated insurance coverage questions. It may be beneficial to speak with a car accident injury attorney before deciding how best to pursue your claim for injuries.

If you have questions about an Iowa car accident, please call our office at (319) 826-2250.

Sobering Facts - What you need to know about drunk driving and Iowa's dram shop law.

Between 2003 and 2012, 968 fatal accidents in Iowa involved a drunk driver. Around 30 % of fatal crashes are alcohol-related.  In addition to fatalities, numerous people are injured by drunk drivers throughout Iowa. The Des Moines Register recently published an article highlighting the following shocking statistics:

  1. Since 2005, 222 people have been charged with vehicular homicide as a result of driving drunk;
  2. At least 13 of those drivers were caught driving drunk after being convicted of vehicular homicide;
  3. Since 2005, more than 11,300 people have been arrested for driving drunk three or more times.

These numbers are consistent with what I have seen in my practice. In nearly every case where I have represented a person injured by a drunk driver or the family of a person killed by a drunk driver, it has not been the first time the person was arrested for drunk driving. 

Unfortunately, often a driver with a prior drunk driving history does not have sufficient insurance limits to fully compensate the persons they have harmed (or does not carry any insurance). This leaves injured persons to recover for their own insurance through uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or, in some cases, to pursue a dram shop claim. 

In Iowa, the law prohibits bars or other establishments that hold a liquor license from over-serving patrons. A bar that serves a patron to the point of intoxication or when they reasonably should know the patron is already intoxicated can be held responsible if that patron later harms someone while drunk. The law also requires that in order to obtain a liquor license, a bar or other establishment must provide proof of dram shop insurance. 

Dram shop cases can be complicated, often because the drunk driver refused to submit to a breathalyzer. They often involve obtaining the investigative files from police, speaking with investigating officers and hiring a toxicologist to determine if the drunk driver was likely served to the point of intoxication at the defendant bar. 

One important thing to remember about dram shop cases is that persons injured by a drunk driver must send a notice of a potential dram shop claim to the bar within six months of the date of injury unless they can show good cause for not doing so. Dram shop claims are often pursued in addition to a claim against the drunk driver who caused the injury. 

If you have been injured by a drunk driver, you should speak with an attorney about a potential dram shop claim as soon as possible. If you would like to speak with me about your claim, please call me at (319) 826-2250. 

Helpful advice if you have been in a car or motorcycle accident

Iowa Car Accident Attorney 

If you have been injured in a car or motorcycle accident, you likely have been or will be contacted by an insurance company and may feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the process of dealing with the insurance company. Here are a few pieces of simple advice that may be helpful. 

Advice for Iowa Car Accident Victims 

 

  1. Hiring a lawyer. Not everyone who is injured in a car accident will benefit from having a lawyer (and that is coming from a lawyer!). If you sustained injuries that required little treatment and you have fully recovered, you may be better off resolving your case directly with the insurance company without getting a lawyer. However, if you have sustained injuries requiring substantial treatment or you have not recovered from your injuries, you may benefit from having a lawyer. If you are not sure if you would benefit from a lawyer, I am happy to talk to you about it. My job is to help people who have been injured, and so I always try to give an honest opinion about whether hiring a lawyer (almost always on a contingent fee) will likely increase the amount that you are able to recover for your injuries. 
  2. Talking to the insurance company. If you are considering hiring a lawyer, you should talk to that lawyer before giving a statement to the insurance company or signing a patients' waiver. Insurance companies want to save money and sometimes that means trying to shift the blame for an accident or minimizing your injuries and damages. Oftentimes you are simply better off not talking with the insurance company. If you have already spoken with the insurance company, do not fret, an attorney can still help you. 
  3. Document your injuries and damages. You should take photos of your injuries and of any damage to your car. You should also save any medical or other bills that you have.
  4. Getting Medical Care. You may be confused about what insurance company should be paying for your medical treatment. This often depends on your situation and you should always ask your lawyer who should be paying your medical bills. This is another topic I am always happy to discuss with people when they contact me. 
  5. Know the time limit for bringing a claim. In Iowa, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury, with some exception. You should know the statute of limitations applicable to your claim because if you try to bring your claim too late, you may not be able to do so. 

If you have questions about whether you should hire a lawyer, please contact our office at (319) 826-2250. We offer a free consultation, and I always provide helpful, honest advice to injured Iowans. 

This website is designed to provide general information and should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship