It’s so easy. You download an app, allow it to find your geolocation, and a driver shows up to take you where you want to go, often within minutes. Payment is handled electronically, making the transaction as simple as getting into a car.
Ride-sharing services have grown exponentially nationwide since two companies, Uber and Lyft, were founded in 2009 and 2012, respectively, in San Francisco. They and similar services quickly spread across the country, supported by people who appreciate the fast, responsive alternative to traditional taxicabs.
Las Vegas is no exception. In January 2018, Uber and Lyft set a record for pickups at McCarran International Airport, giving rides to 11,465 airport passengers on a single day during the Consumer Electronics Show. And in July 2017, the Nevada Taxicab Authority said that revenue for the region’s taxi companies was down 11.3 percent over the same period in 2016, attributable to the growth of rideshare alternatives.
But with the new services come new, complicated issues that are constantly changing. What happens when an Uber or Lyft driver gets into an accident? Is the service responsible for property damage? Is the driver responsible for the medical expenses of the passenger? Whose insurance pays? What is the level of risk that a passenger willingly accepts by stepping into the car? And do the legal answers to these questions change from state to state?
“Because there is little to no regulation of ride-sharing, passengers, pedestrians, and occupants in nearby vehicles may be subject to a greater risk of injury from driver error or parts failures,” says a 2018 research brief from the Cato Institute following a study in the Southern Economic Journal.
“It turns out, if you’re ever in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you likely won’t sue the ride-sharing company outright,” writes Alicia Adamczyk in Time magazine, who was jogging in New York when she was hit by an Uber driver. “Drivers are technically independent contractors, not employees, meaning the company can deny liability for crashes involving their drivers (and have done so in the past, most notoriously when a driver hit and killed a 6-year-old in San Francisco in 2014).”
If you are injured in an accident while using a ride-sharing service, you should talk with an experienced personal-injury lawyer to determine whether you are entitled to compensation. An attorney will need to be able to prove who was at fault and whether that party was negligent, in addition to showing the extent of your injuries. The complicated part is that of figuring out whose insurance would cover such compensation – the driver’s, or the rideshare company’s. (Both Uber and Lyft have started carrying liability insurance on their drivers, and they require their drivers to have personal liability insurance that meets or exceeds the minimums set by the state in which they reside.)
Injuries sustained in a car accident can be life-changing. You may have medical expenses, loss of income and other financial pressures. Las Vegas attorney Peter Mazzeo has 29 years’ experience litigating personal injury claims of all kinds, including automobile accidents. He was also a partner and trial attorney at a large insurance defense firm in Las Vegas from 2005-2014, which gives him detailed knowledge of insurance defense tactics. He has been recognized by The National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Nevada Business Magazine and MyVegas magazine as one of the region’s top attorneys.
Come talk to us about your situation. We are here to help.