Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare companies have grown tremendously as people look for new ways to get from one place to another. But as rideshares expand throughout the country, there is an increasing risk of a serious car accident. Rideshare crashes are unlike other accidents. If you’ve been hurt, you need a personal injury attorney who understands the laws that apply. Maryland ride share accident victims trust the experience of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. If you or a loved one were injured in a Maryland rideshare accident, let us explain your legal rights and help you get the compensation you need.
What Is Rideshare?
Traditional forms of public transportation such as taxis, buses, and trains generally have set routes. If a passenger wants to use one of these modes, he or she has to find a cab, go to a bus stop, or buy a train ticket and head to the platform. In contrast, rideshare is a type of on-demand transportation by which passengers directly ask for drivers to come pick them up.
It starts with downloading an app directly onto the user’s smartphone. When a passenger is ready for a trip, he or she activates the app and uses it to request and pay for a driver. An available driver then accepts the request and comes to pick up the passenger.
Another major difference is that while traditional modes of transportation are fairly regulated, there are much fewer rules in place for rideshare drivers. In fact, these drivers are just private citizens with a driver’s license, with no special training or experience. There are relatively few requirements for them to sign up with a company like Uber and Lyft and begin accepting passengers.
Common Causes Of a Maryland Rideshare Accident
Understanding the reason a rideshare accident happens is essential to holding the responsible party liable. Since rideshare drivers are everyday people with vehicles, the causes of these accidents are similar to other wrecks. They include:
- Alcohol- or drug-impaired driving
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving, sometimes because the driver is actively using the rideshare app
- Speeding, running red lights, and other traffic law violations
- Unfamiliarity with the passenger’s route
- Inability to handle congested roads and highways
- Weather and environmental conditions (e.g. nighttime driving)
After an accident, it’s important to document as many facts as you can remember about the events leading up to it. Was the driver using the app, and possibly distracted, during your trip? Did the driver appear confused about how to get to your destination? Any detail, even one that seems insignificant, could help your attorney establish liability.
Who Is Responsible For A Maryland Rideshare Accident?
Unlike other automobile accidents, the liability rules are not as clear when a rideshare service is involved. The first thing your lawyer will need to determine is who might be responsible. It could be your driver, another driver, a combination of the two, or someone else entirely. Sometimes, several parties can be held liable.
After an automobile accident, an insurance company usually steps in to compensate the victim for his or her injuries. But again, this is more complicated when it comes to rideshares. Most drivers’ personal insurance policies have rules that limit or exclude coverage when their vehicles are used for a commercial purpose. For that reason, many of the larger rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have their own policies to cover drivers.
These insurance policies are similar and have three tiers of coverage, depending on when during your trip the accident took place. Here’s how the policies work for Uber and Lyft:
If you got injured while the driver was off duty (the rideshare app is turned off or not engaged), his or her private insurance policy will apply.
If the driver has the app turned on and is in driver mode but hasn’t yet accepted a ride, he or she will be insured for liability to a third party under the rideshare company’s policy. The coverage is as follows:
- $50,000 per person for bodily injury
- $100,000 per accident total for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
From the time the driver accepts your ride request until you are dropped off, he or she is covered for up to $1 million of liability per accident. There is also coverage for property damage after payment of a deductible.
This coverage looks good on paper but is more complex in real life. There could be a dispute as to whether the driver was on duty, and therefore which insurance policy applies. If multiple parties were liable for the accident, you could have to sort out which policies might cover your injuries. Once those issues are settled you may have to contend with insufficient offers from the responsible insurer. And in some cases, the insurance company may outright deny a legitimate claim.
What To Do After A Maryland Rideshare Accident
Our firm understands the stress of dealing with multiple and sometimes competing insurance companies, which is why we handle communications with the insurers. If you’ve been injured, let us help. We represent clients in these and other parts of Maryland:
- Prince George’s County
- Montgomery County
- Calvert County
- Charles County
- St. Mary’s County
After an accident, you may be contacted by the responsible insurance company and asked to give a recorded statement. This is a major red flag. Insurance companies are notorious for taking recorded statements from victims in which the companies pressure or trick victims to “admit” liability for the accident. These statements are then used later to deny the claim or make an absurdly low offer that won’t adequately cover your damages. Before you speak with the insurance companies, talk to us.
Contact Our Suburban Maryland Rideshare Accident Attorneys
The automobile accident attorneys of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP understand the complex issues that arise with rideshares, and we know how to hold the liable party accountable. After a rideshare accident, get the medical attention you need and let us handle the rest. Contact us today to get started on your case.