In the past few years, ridesharing has become extremely popular in New York and throughout the country. Many consumers find ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, to be convenient and cost-effective options. In fact, the New York Post has reported that there are actually more Uber drivers on the road in New York City than there are cab drivers.
With ridesharing becoming so common, the issue of ridesharing safety needs to be carefully considered. Consumers need to know that their safety is fairly protected when they get into the back of an Uber or a Lyft. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that a serious ridesharing car accident does occur, consumers need to know how to navigate the legal process.
Reviewing a Recent Study on Ridesharing Safety
Earlier this year, New York Daily News reported on a ridesharing safety study that was conducted by the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC). The TLC looked at data from July 2015 through December 2015 and analyzed every ride provided by both Uber vehicles and traditional yellow cabs.
The study found that Uber vehicles were involved in more deadly accidents than were yellow cabs. This finding reignited concerns that Uber drivers are not properly trained. The study also noted that Uber vehicles were involved in slightly fewer total accidents than the industry average.
In all, in the 6-month period that was studied, Uber vehicles were involved in 753 different collisions that resulted in at least one injury. However, officials from Uber did raise concerns about the methodology used by the TLC researchers. The officials argued that some of the accidents that were attributed to Uber should actually have been attributed to Lyft, because some drivers work for both companies at the same time.
Still, it must be noted that Uber’s argument still concedes that all of those injuries occurred in ridesharing accidents. In the end, it does appear that Uber and Lyft may be slightly more risky than yellow cabs, though the difference does not appear to be dramatic.
Understanding Ridesharing Insurance Policies
Ridesharing accidents create particularly complex insurance situations. In many cases, this can cause major headaches for innocent crash victims.
In New York City, ridesharing drivers are considered to be professionals. This is an important distinction because it means that they are regulated by the Taxi & Limousine Commission. The Commission requires that all Uber and Lyft drivers carry at least $100,000 in personal injury liability insurance. On top of this, ridesharing companies often boast about their own, voluntary, insurance policies. For example, Uber frequently touts its $1 million worth of liability coverage per incident.
Taken together, it appears that there will be clear access to compensation for innocent accident victims. Unfortunately, the reality is often more complicated. There are two main issues that make ridesharing accidents uniquely challenging:
- Drivers are classified as independent contractors. Uber and Lyft do not consider their drivers to be employees. Instead, drivers are classified as independent contractors. In the event that an accident occurs because of the negligence of a ridesharing driver, both companies often try to use this classification to avoid any legal liability. They will try to push all liability onto the individual driver.
- Ridesharing commercial policies are only active when the driver is “on the clock.” Uber’s $1 million commercial policy is only considered to be active from the moment that a driver accepts a trip from a passenger until the moment the passenger steps out of the vehicle. While passengers are only in a vehicle during official trips, ridesharing vehicles are still on the road many other times as well. There is always the possibility that a pedestrian accident or an accident with another driver could occur during this “off-the-clock” time period. This issue is especially concerning in ridesharing cases because drivers are required to repeatedly check their phone looking for new customers.
Ultimately, ridesharing is still a new and rapidly developing area of New York state and New York City law. While some legal issues are still being sorted out, one thing is absolutely clear: ridesharing companies will try to avoid or limit their liability when possible. These companies make enormous profits in the NYC market, when their vehicles are responsible for an accident, they must be held legally accountable.
5 Things to Do After and Uber or Lyft Accident
- Seek medical assistance. Car accident victims should always get themselves checked out after an accident. Even if your injury does not appear to be an emergency, you should still seek professional medical assistance. Often car accidents cause delayed-onset injuries. You may be far more injured than your initially realize. Also, in the event that you are considering taking legal action, you will need official medical records that document the full extent of your injuries.
- Contact the police. The police should always be contacted after any New York car accident. Even if your accident occurs while you are a ridesharing passenger, you need to ensure that a proper police report is filed, not reporting it may affect your insurance claim.
- Take photographs. It is also a good practice to take extensive photographs after a car accident. If you can, take pictures of the scene of the collision and of your injuries. These photographs could potentially provide important evidence in your case.
- Report your accident to the ridesharing company. Ridesharing accidents should also be reported to the responsible company. Further, you should be sure that you have received confirmation that the company is aware of the fact that you filed an accident report.
- Contact an attorney. Finally, if you were seriously injured in an accident, you should always consult with an experienced car accident attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you seek fair compensation for your injuries.
Were You Injured in a New York City Ridesharing Accident?
At the office of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., our car accident attorneys have extensive knowledge about a wide variety of car accident claims, including ridesharing accidents. If you have been injured in an accident involving an Uber or a Lyft, please do not hesitate to contact our NYC office today to set up your free legal consultation.