Georgia Uber & Lyft Accident Attorney
Uber & Lyft Accident Lawyer Serving Georgia Residents
Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way we all travel, especially in metropolitan areas like Atlanta. You download an app and have instant access to a fast, inexpensive, and convenient way to bypass public transportation or traditional taxi cab services. Many people use ridesharing platforms to avoid the risks of driving under the influence when celebrating or enjoying a night on the town. Though Uber and Lyft are undoubtedly safer than drunk driving, accidents do still happen. And when they do, you need the experienced legal counsel of a Georgia Uber & Lyft Accident Attorney.
How Safe are Uber and Lyft?
Both ridesharing platforms perform background checks on drivers before the approval process, but how thorough the background checks are is a matter of debate. Serious offenses, such as murder, sexual assault, registered sex offenders, are automatically disqualified. There is vague language about “other felonies” that can also disqualify you from driving for Uber or Lyft.
The driving record of each new applicant is checked, but the language about disqualifications is vague. Uber states that “major driving violations or a recent history of multiple minor violations, including but not limited to no-fault accidents, may result in disqualification.” There is no explanation of what is considered a significant violation or how they define “recent” history.
Both companies only require one year of driving experience if you are over the age of 23, which means you could find yourself riding with an inexperienced driver. There is no in-person vehicle inspection and minimal inspection criteria.
Georgia Laws Governing For Hire Drivers
Motor Vehicles and Traffic Law § 40-5-39 states that no one can operate a motor vehicle for hire in the state unless they have a for-hire license endorsement or a private background check. The law also requires that drivers have liability insurance coverage in the amounts required by law for the class of vehicle being operated.
The statute covers limousine drivers, rideshare networks, and taxi services. To receive the endorsement, Motor Vehicles and Traffic § 40-5-39 states that, to receive a for-hire endorsement, the driver must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Possess a valid Georgia license, which is not limited
- Must not have been convicted of a felony, or a crime of “moral turpitude” or a pattern of misdemeanors that evidence of a “pattern of disregard” for the law
- Submitted fingerprints for a background check with the Georgia Crime Information Center
- Be a U.S. citizen, or present federal documentation verified by Homeland Security as valid evidence of a lawful presence
- The endorsement is valid for the same time as the person’s driver’s license and subject to review of criminal history for verification of eligibility
A private background check provided by a rideshare platform, if it meets the state’s requirements, allows drivers to operate for-hire vehicles without the above endorsement.
Uber and Lyft Fail to Attract Enough Women Drivers
The number of rideshare drivers who are women ranges from 14-30%, but many women report they would feel safer with the option to request a female driver. Yet, women are less likely to partake in the rideshare industry as drivers due to safety concerns.
The industry will need to facilitate innovative protective measures to attract more women drivers and provide the option to request a driver based on gender. Safety measures could include an in-app panic button that allows both drivers and riders to summon help. Each ridesharing service should also have a critical response line for drivers who encounter problems such as attempted robberies or assaults.
Multiple studies, over several decades, support the fact that women drivers are safer than men. Women tend to be more risk-averse and drive less aggressively. Rideshare companies would be wise to recruit more women drivers into the industry. Such recruitment could potentially reduce the number of accidents and increase users’ confidence in the safety of ridesharing.
Insurance Requirements for Uber and Lyft
Drivers and passengers do have the assurance of adequate insurance coverage in the event of an accident. Both companies provide a commercial liability policy to protect passengers and drivers in an accident. The policy is a one-million-dollar minimum, which sounds like more than enough. However, the policy limits are usually per-accident as opposed to per-person.
Drivers can have commercial insurance policies, or personal car insurance, which may cover some portion of the costs of a passenger’s injuries while engaged in ridesharing. Unfortunately, many car insurance policies have a business use exception limiting or denying coverage if the driver uses their vehicle for anything other than personal use. The commercial liability insurance provided through Uber and Lyft only takes effect after the driver’s personal insurance is exhausted.
To further complicate a passenger’s claim, the ridesharing driver may not be at fault for the accident. If the accident is the fault of another driver, you would need to attempt to recover damages from the at-fault driver via their car insurance carrier.
It is important to note that most taxi cab services offer far less insurance coverage for passenger injuries. Uber and Lyft, as national chains, offer better insurance coverage for passengers injured in an accident.
If you are injured in a multi-vehicle accident or suffer serious or catastrophic damages, the policy maximum may not be enough. Anyone involved in a rideshare accident should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. Ridesharing accidents often involve a complex dynamic of various insurance coverages, making it difficult to navigate on your own.
Steps to Take if Involved in an Uber or Lyft Accident
Involvement in a car accident is frightening and disorienting. Knowing what to do can help you make the right decisions in a stressful event.
- Determine if you have sustained an injury. If you need medical attention, call 911, and report your injury. It is also important to remember that not all injuries manifest right away, and adrenaline can mask even potentially serious injuries. It is always safest to be checked by a health care provider after an accident.
- Call the police to the scene of the accident. Determining who is at fault for the accident will rely heavily on the police report, making sure the police are called to the scene.
- If you can do so safely, take pictures of the scene. Include damage to any vehicles involved, the conditions of the roadway, and things like skid marks.
- Asks witnesses for their names and contact information. Witnesses may leave the scene before the police arrive or before the police have time to interview them, so getting their information can be crucial to a legal case.
- Make notes or take screenshots of the Uber or Lyft driver’s names, the name and contact information of any other involved driver, what you remember from the moments before the collision, and the details of your trip.
Call an experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Tobin Injury Law, we know that the sooner we are involved in a case, the better our clients’ potential outcome.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Uber or Lyft
If the insurance policies are inadequate, the insurance company fails to pay, or the ridesharing company acted irresponsibly, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the company. Uber and Lyft attempt to distance themselves from liability by treating drivers as independent contractors. A company is far more likely to be held legally accountable for an employee’s acts than the acts of an independent contractor.
Passengers in an Uber or Lyft rideshare vehicle, or those in another vehicle involved in an accident caused by a rideshare driver, will probably be limited to the companies’ liability coverage or its uninsured motorist’s coverage.
Georgia law has held up the independent contractor defense when dealing with ridesharing accidents, shielding ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft from direct responsibility for accidents. Those injured in accidents may have a cause of action against the driver, and the driver’s insurance, including the commercial and UIM insurance provided by ridesharing companies.
However, the ridesharing companies themselves are usually safe behind the independent contractor defense.
Damages Recovered in an Uber or Lyft Accident
The types of damages recoverable in an accident involving an Uber or Lyft rideshare are identical to those recoverable from other car accidents. You can be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and wrongful death if you lose a loved one in an accident.
Georgia law also provides for punitive damages if the responsible party behaved in an egregious manner, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Rideshare drivers who knowingly operate with defective equipment can also pave the way for punitive damages.
Punitive damages, described in O.C.G.A. 51-12-5.1, are reserved for defendants whose actions show willful misconduct, fraud, malice, or wantonness that show a conscious indifference to consequences. Punitive damages are awarded solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant.
Contact A Georgia Uber & Lyft Accident Attorney at Tobin Injury Law if You Were Injured in an Accident Involving a Rideshare Service
An accident that involved an Uber or Lyft driver requires knowledge and experience with Georgia personal injury law, contributory negligence, and the complexities of multiple insurance carriers. Insurance providers have a vested interest in paying as little as possible for each claim.
If you were injured in a ridesharing accident, you need an attorney experienced in fighting insurance companies for the best possible outcome. Contact Tobin Injury Law by calling 404-JUSTICE (404-587-8432) for a free consultation.