In a relatively short time, rideshare companies disrupted the taxi industry and forever changed how we get around. Lyft and Uber now provide Utahns with a commonly accepted means of transportation. With a few clicks on the Uber or Lyft app, you can request a car and driver to collect you or a group, deliver you to your destination of choice, and pay for the service – all on your mobile phone or smart device. Contact Injury Smart Law regarding an Uber & Lyft Accident.
But ease of use and convenience doesn’t mean ridesharing is safer than other options. Uber drivers aren’t better motor vehicle operators, nor are Lyft cars or SUVs less likely to be involved in automobile collisions. Whether you are a rideshare passenger or a driver or passenger in another vehicle involved in an Uber accident or Lyft accident, you still face the risk of injury or wrongful death.
If you’re injured in an Uber or Lyft crash anywhere across Utah – including St. George, Cedar City, Salt Lake City, or Mesquite, NV, hiring an Injury Smart Law attorney is the most critical decision you can make.
Types of Ridesharing Accidents
Accidents involving Uber and Lyft vehicles can be catastrophic, forever changing the lives of the people involved and their families.
The kinds of accidents involving a rideshare car and another vehicle include:
- T-bone collisions where one vehicle crashes into the side of the other due to a driver who ignores an intersection or runs a stop sign or red light.
- Rear-end collisions where one vehicle hits another from behind, usually caused by driver distraction, tailgating, or failing to maintain a safe stopping distance.
- Sideswipe collisions, where two parallel vehicles collide, usually caused by distracted or drowsy drivers or drivers who fail to pay attention when merging or changing lanes.
- Head-on collisions, often the most destructive crashes, where a driver drifts into another lane due to intoxication, drowsiness, or distraction.
Ridesharing Injury Statistics
Further evidence of ridesharing’s permanent place in our society comes from industry data. A 2022 insurance industry report indicated that the global rideshare industry is expected to grow from $85.8 billion in 2021 to roughly $185 billion by 2026. Today, Uber and Lyft account for 69% and 31% of the U.S. market, respectively. One-quarter of Americans 50 and older regularly use ridesharing services, compared to one-half of Americans aged 18 to 29.
With the expected industry growth are expectations that rideshare-related injuries and fatalities will increase. In 2010, there were 32,885 motor-vehicle crash deaths – the lowest amount since 1949. By 2016, that figure rose to more than 37,400. Rideshare services were introduced in 2011, and researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business concluded in 2019 that ridesharing was responsible for a three percent annual increase in those deaths, nearly 1,000 people each year.
The researchers attributed the dramatic rise to the large number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on the road. More cars translate to more accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving drivers, passengers, truck drivers, motorcycle riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. In Utah and elsewhere, public rideshare accident data is hard to obtain. While Uber and Lyft issue annual safety reports, they don’t freely offer crash and injury statistics.
Despite the actual numbers, the University of Chicago research shows rideshare accident rates remain steady throughout the week and that accidents at drop-off and pickup points are increasing. Also, accidents involving Lyft and Uber vehicles don’t always happen with passengers on board. Many crashes happen when drivers are “deadheading” — the period they wait to be matched with a rider.
Despite the lack of specific data about Uber and Lyft accidents, crashes involving rideshare vehicles have made news headlines, including a tragic car vs. train collision in Salt Lake City. In September 2022, an Uber passenger was killed at the intersection of West Temple and 700 South when the driver ran a red light and struck a TRAX train. The driver was not injured.
What You Should Know About Uber Drivers
One reason ridesharing is so popular is the low threshold for becoming a Lyft or Uber driver. Virtually anyone can become a rideshare driver.
There were nearly 1.5 million Uber drivers in the U.S. in 2021, but there is also a high turnover rate. As one rideshare industry observer noted, “New drivers are thrown to the wolves. They don’t get hours of training on how to prioritize and be more efficient. Most drivers just end up learning by trial and error.”
According to Uber’s website, to become an Uber driver, you must:
- Meet the minimum age to drive in your city.
- Have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 25 years old).
- Have a valid U.S. driver’s license.
- Use an eligible four-door vehicle.
- Show proof of residency in your city, state, or province.
- Complete an online screening to review your driving record and criminal history.
Assuming one must be 16 years old to hold a license, your next Uber driver could be as young as 19! And drivers don’t need their own vehicles because Uber lets them rent from its partners!
Tickets or driving restrictions may not disqualify someone as an Uber driver, and there isn’t a clearly stated protocol for screening occasional or inexperienced operators. The fact is, negligence isn’t a barrier to becoming an Uber driver. Nor is the company looking for drivers to be model citizens, either.
What You Should Know About Lyft Drivers
Like Uber, Lyft contractors are not professionals. In 2022, the company reported that 97% of its drivers work or are students in addition to driving with Lyft.
To drive for Lyft in Utah, you must:
- Have a valid Utah driver’s license (temporary licenses are acceptable).
- Be 25 years or older.
- Show proof of residency.
- Pass a driver screening, which reviews your driving history and criminal background check.
- Own or lease a four-door vehicle, 2008 model year or newer, with at least five seats
Like Uber, Lyft does not require a clean driving record and will only disqualify an applicant if they have:
- More than three moving violations in the past three years.
- A major moving violation in the past three years (including driving on a suspended license or reckless driving).
- A DUI or other drug-related driving violation in their recent history.
- A serious driving-related conviction in the past seven years (including a hit-and-run accident or any felony involving a vehicle).
Like Uber, Lyft may disqualify an applicant if they have:
- Four or more moving violations in the past three years (such as accidents or traffic light violations).
- A single major moving violation in the past three years (such as driving on a suspended license or reckless driving).
- A DUI or other drug-related driving violation in the past seven years.
- A serious driving-related conviction in the past seven years (such as a hit-and-run or a felony involving a vehicle).
Although Lyft requires drivers to be at least 25, there is no minimum driving experience requirement, so you might get a ride from a Lyft operator who only recently received their license.
Who Can You Sue Following a Utah Rideshare Accident?
If you or a loved one is injured due to the negligence or recklessness of an Uber or Lyft driver, you may be able to pursue damages. Having a proven auto accident attorney experienced in rideshare crashes is the first step in seeking compensation – an attorney like those at Injury Smart Law. You should never initiate a legal action for personal injuries without a lawyer representing you.
First, you can file an insurance claim against the rideshare contractor. Uber and Lyft require their drivers to carry insurance, and your lawyer will investigate all the facts, research the law, and provide the carrier with information about the accident and your injuries. If the insurance company doesn’t agree to a settlement, your lawyer will take the case to court and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Lyft and Uber categorize their drivers as independent contractors to avoid liability for the drivers’ negligence. If the drivers were considered employees, the rideshare companies – as their employers – could be held responsible for damages that drivers cause. But that doesn’t mean you cannot seek compensation from Lyft or Uber.
Beyond the driver’s insurance policy, Utah also requires rideshare companies to maintain insurance coverage. So, if your damages are more than the value of the driver’s policy, you could pursue compensation from Lyft or Uber for the additional amount.
Also, if your lawyer can prove Uber or Lyft did not properly screen the contractor by not checking their insurance coverage, driving record, vehicle registration, or other requirements, you may be entitled to damages for that failure.
“App On” vs. “App Off” Rideshare Insurance Coverage
Lyft and Uber drivers are only covered by broad rideshare insurance policies when they accept a rideshare request and take on a passenger. That determination depends on whether the driver’s rideshare app is activated when you are injured. For example:
- If the driver’s app is off when you’re injured, the driver’s personal insurance policy covers the incident.
- If the driver’s app is on and they are waiting for a ride request, or if they dropped off a passenger and are waiting for a new ride, the driver’s personal insurance policy is triggered if it includes rideshare coverage or the driver has a commercial policy. Uber or Lyft’s responsibility is limited to liability coverage.
- If the driver accepts a ride request and is on the way to pick up the passenger, or if they have a rideshare passenger or passengers in the vehicle, the Uber or Lyft policy coverage applies.
If a rideshare driver without a passenger injures you and lacks adequate insurance, you may still seek compensation from an uninsured motorist policy or Med-Pay.
What Damages Can You Recover for Your Ridesharing Accident Injuries?
Depending on your situation, you can seek various damages following an accident with a Lyft or Uber driver.
If you were a rideshare passenger or the driver or passenger in another vehicle, you might be entitled to damages for:
- Pain, suffering, and disfigurement.
- Emotional distress.
- Medical care and treatment costs.
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses.
- Lost income from the inability to work.
- Loss of future wages and earning capacity.
- Loss of enjoyment of day-to-day activities.
- Property damage or loss.
If the accident kills someone, the victim’s surviving spouse, children, legal guardian, or another qualified representative of their estate can also pursue compensation for:
- The deceased’s medical expenses.
- Burial and funeral costs.
- The family’s pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of the deceased’s income and support.
- Loss of the deceased’s medical or pension benefits.
- Punitive damages if the Lyft or Uber driver was grossly negligent or engaged in extreme, egregious, or intentionally harmful conduct.
Insurance regulations surrounding Uber accidents are incredibly complex. A knowledgeable Injury Smart Law personal injury attorney can help you better understand how to work these complexities to your advantage for a full recovery.
Contact a Proven and Accomplished Rideshare Accident Lawyer Today
Evaluating your Uber or Lyft accident case, investigating the facts, and sorting out insurance and liability issues is difficult and time-consuming – definitely not something you should do yourself. Studies show you will receive more compensation from having an attorney represent you in a personal injury claim than if you handle the claim on your own.
The attorneys at Smart Injury Law have helped individuals and families who have been harmed in rideshare-related accidents and other motor vehicle crashes recover the damages to which they are entitled. Uber, Lyft, and the insurance companies aren’t your friends; their goal is to keep money in their pockets, not put it in yours.
If you have been injured in a Utah Uber accident or Lyft accident, we’re here to help. We’ll treat you with the utmost compassion, empathy, and sensitivity, and we promise to keep the information you share confidential.