Legal Responsibility Following a Rideshare Accident

legal responsibilities ridesharing

Ten years ago, Uber was little more than an idea. Now, Uber drivers make over 500 million trips every month. Largely due to the ridesharing revolution, fewer people under 25 are buying cars than ever before.

For many people, ridesharing services are a convenient and cost-effective way to get around.

But rideshare operators receive almost no special training. As a result, they are just as likely to cause an accident as anyone else. In fact, mostly because of the prevalence of distracted driving, the risk might be even higher.

When Uber drivers cause crashes, no one can turn back the clock and reverse the serious injuries these incidents cause.

But a New York personal injury attorney does the next best thing. A lawyer helps these victims obtain the financial compensation they need to carry on.

First Party Liability

Negligence claims usually begin with legal duty. Uber and other ridesharing operators have two distinct legal responsibilities when it comes to passenger safety.

While they are on the road, Uber drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must obey the rules of the road, avoid accidents when possible, and drive defensively.

As mentioned, distracted driving is one of the most common violations of this duty, especially when it comes to ridesharing operators.

According to some researchers, Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies are directly responsible for the uptick in traffic deaths since 2010.

It is technically legal to use a hands-free GPS navigation device while driving in New York, even though such behavior can be quite hazardous.

It is illegal to hold a device and use it.

The negligence per se shortcut usually applies in these situations. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) might be liable for damages as a matter of law if they violate a safety law, like the cell phone ban, and that violation substantially causes injury.

Ridesharing operators also have a special duty in New York when it comes to passenger pickup and drop-off.

Common carriers, such as Uber drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and other commercial operators who transport people for fees, have a duty to stop at places where passengers may safely enter or exit the vehicle and also safely leave the area.

Both these responsibilities could involve one or more insurance company defenses, as outlined below.

Third Party Liability

Driver error causes most car crashes, but the trail of responsibility often does not end there.

According to the respondeat superior doctrine, employers like Uber and Lyft are often financially responsible for these wrecks. This legal rule has two basic prongs:

  • Employee: There is considerable debate as to whether Uber and other ridesharing operators are employees or independent contractors for employment purposes.
  • Scope of Employment

Vicarious liability theories like respondeat superior are especially important in ridesharing crashes. Typically, personal auto insurance policies do not cover such incidents.

Insurance Company Defenses

The contributory negligence defenses is one of the most common insurance company defenses in car wreck claims.

This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. So, the insurance company might admit the Uber driver was distracted but blame the collision on the other driver’s excessive speed.

In these situations, jurors must divide fault on a percentage basis. New York is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.

Uber passenger injury claims sometimes involve the assumption of the risk defense.

This doctrine excuses negligent conduct if the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk. A low driver rating might give rise to the assumption of the risk defense.

In terms of pickup or drop-off, if the passenger asks the driver to stop in a hazardous location, the defense might apply as well.

Damages in a vehicle collision claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Uber driver accident claims are legally complex.

For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.