Experienced New Orleans Rideshare Accident Attorney Helping Victims Seek Justice
In New Orleans, many people choose to get around town in a taxi, Uber, Lyft or other ridesharing vehicle. In our city, with tourists and conventioneers arriving, exploring, and departing every day, and with locals and visitors alike needing a safe ride home after a night of alcohol-fueled partying, ridesharing services have seen explosive growth in the Crescent City since they were permitted to operate in 2015. But the increased use of these services has led to a corresponding uptick in the number of accidents involving shared vehicles and many victims find themselves in need of a New Orleans rideshare accident attorney. When such an accident is the result of negligence and leads to injuries to passengers, other drivers or pedestrians, the driver and ridesharing company need to be held accountable. At Bloom Legal, our New Orleans ridesharing accident lawyers understand the unique issues and challenges involved in obtaining compensation for victims hurt in taxi, Lyft or Uber accidents. Our skilled and aggressive Uber and Lyft accident attorneys work closely with injury victims and their families to help them recover after a devastating ridesharing accident, getting them the resources they need to move forward with their lives.
Ridesharing Accident Statistics
It is estimated that over the past five years, ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have driven passengers the equivalent distance of a trip to Saturn and back. That’s around 1.5 billion miles. Uber and Lyft became available in New Orleans after the passage of a 2015 ordinance which established limitations and regulations for their operation the city. Soon after, the use of these services skyrocketed. According to the New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits, 2,342,673 Uber/Lyft trips were taken in the city between Jan 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016 alone. This is in addition to 2.8 million taxi rides. The statistics for Uber alone show that passengers spend an astounding amount of time in rideshare vehicles:
- 4 billion Uber trips were completed worldwide in 2017 alone
- 15 million Uber trips are completed every single day
- Uber has reportedly provided over 2 billion journeys globally since operations began in 2010
- Uber uses over 3 million drivers to serve over 75 million riders
With that much time spent on the road, accidents are inevitable. Surprisingly, though, cities across the country including New Orleans do a terrible job keeping track of car accidents involving ridesharing vehicles or taxis. That said, we know that the increased presence of these vehicles on our roads and highways have led to more accidents and injuries. A New Orleans rideshare accident attorney at Bloom Legal have seen it first-hand, as more people reach out for help after they have been injured in a Lyft, Uber or taxi while in New Orleans.
Uber and Lyft Accidents in New Orleans
Uber and Lyft drivers are private individuals who use their own cars when picking up, driving, and dropping off passengers who request rides using the rideshare company’s phone app. The nature of who these drivers are, how they work, and their relationship with the ridesharing companies make them prone to accidents and can make claims for damages more complicated than those against other drivers. In New Orleans, regulations mandate certain requirements for Lyft/Uber drivers, but few of those requirements go beyond what is required for any other drivers. Ridesharing drivers are subject to random drug testing and must not provide services for more than 12 consecutive hours in any 24-hour period, and the companies must complete background checks on their drivers. No special training or other experience is mandated, meaning that drivers now transporting passengers for a living are no more qualified to do so than anyone else. In addition to a lack of training, ridesharing drivers may be more prone to accidents due to distracted driving from looking at their phones for pickup requests and their GPS for directions. Notwithstanding the city ordinance limiting the amount of time rideshare drivers can spend behind the wheel, drivers seeking to earn more money can easily ignore this limitation, leading to fatigued drivers at increased risk of accidents.
Differences Between Lyft and Uber Rideshare Accidents
Different rules apply to professionally licensed drivers, and those participating in the Lyft Express Ride program. Let’s start by discussing the difference between regular and commercial drivers’ licenses. Individuals who drive commercial passenger vehicles generally need a commercial license. Most states, including Louisiana, have special age, background, testing and insurance requirements for these types of permits. Commercial drivers typically don’t use personal vehicles for work purposes — they usually drive buses, limousines and taxis. Most Uber and Lyft drivers have regular licenses and drive personal vehicles.
Uber works with professional drivers to provide limousine and black car service. Lyft doesn’t offer similar services. Uber doesn’t regularly take out insurance on behalf of these drivers. If there’s an accident, the driver’s commercial policy or the other person’s third-party liability insurance usually applies, depending on who’s at fault.
A rideshare accident involving rental cars obtained through Lyft’s Express Drive program present serious challenges when it comes to insurance questions. These cases often feature competing claims involving the driver’s, Lyft’s and the rental car company’s insurance policies. An experienced New Orleans rideshare accident attorney can increase your chance of recovery in these challenging situations by preventing insurance companies from avoiding their contractual responsibilities.
Injuries to Rideshare Drivers from Uber or Lyft Accidents
Of course, not all accidents involving ridesharing vehicles are the fault of the ridesharing driver, and passengers, occupants of other vehicles, or pedestrians are not the only ones who suffer injuries. Rideshare drivers, like any other drivers, can be the victims of other drivers’ negligence or reckless driving. In fact, given how much time they spend driving in and around New Orleans, Uber or Lyft drivers stand a greater chance of being injured in an accident than do other drivers. When that happens, a New Orleans Lyft or Uber accident attorney at Bloom Legal stands ready to help drivers pursue claims against the other parties responsible for their injuries and losses. We know that a serious injury can keep you off the road and out of work for a long time, compounding the already daunting challenges that follow an accident. Our car accident law firm is committed to the well-being of every client we have the privilege to represent, and everything we do is focused on helping injury victims get their lives back after an injury or the loss of a loved one.
Driver v. Rideshare Company: Who Can Be Held Responsible?
Just because both drivers and rideshare companies in New Orleans are required to have insurance does not mean that obtaining compensation for injuries or losses is a given. In fact, personal injury lawsuits involving Uber or Lyft vehicles can be significantly more complicated than other car accident suits. Claims can be made against the driver as well as the ridesharing company, but the insurance companies representing each of those parties will try to shift all blame or responsibility to the other party or deny liability altogether, asserting that the driver of another vehicle or another person was at fault for the accident. If you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident, one or more insurance companies may reach out to you with an offer to settle your claim. Under no circumstances should you ever enter into any agreement or settlement with an insurance company without first consulting with an experienced New Orleans Uber accident attorney or a New Orleans Lyft accident attorney. Those companies are in the business of making money, and every penny they pay out in claims cuts into their profits. That is why any offer they make you is likely to be significantly less than that which you could be awarded at trial. Insurers count on injury victims to accept these lowball offers, knowing that lost wages, mounting medical bills, and other costs make the promise of immediate cash extremely tempting. They also count on injury victims not understanding their rights or options after a ridesharing accident.
Insurance Coverage for Ridesharing Operators
For years, both Uber and Lyft have tried to insulate themselves from liability for accidents and injuries caused by their drivers. Both companies assert that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees, and that they are therefore not responsible for their negligence. The companies assert that they simply provide private individuals with an app for both drivers and passengers to use when requesting and paying for rides. When these companies, through restrictive insurance policies and legal fictions, try to hide from any responsibility for the damage caused by their drivers, injury victims can find themselves trying to recover compensation from a driver who may be woefully underinsured. That said, it is crucial for victims to work with a knowledgeable New Orleans rideshare accident attorney after being involved in a rideshare accident to ensure fair and full compensation. It was this ducking of responsibility which led to pressure by lawmakers and regulators to require Uber and Lyft to carry insurance to cover injuries to third-parties such as passengers, other drivers, or pedestrians. New Orleans requires that Uber and Lyft drivers be covered from “app on” to “app off” by primary insurance maintained by the ridesharing companies which meets the requirements of the city’s rideshare ordinance. That ordinance provides the following minimum coverage requirements:
- For periods when the app is on, but no passenger is in the vehicle, either the company or the driver must have primary liability insurance covering:
- $25,000 for property damage
- $50,000 for death or personal injury to one person
- $100,000 for death or personal injury to more than one person
- When the app is on and a passenger is in the vehicle, the company or driver must have a policy which provides:
- $1 million in coverage for death, personal injury, or property damage and
- $1 million in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage
When you contact Bloom Legal, you can be sure that one of our top New Orleans Uber accident attorneys or New Orleans Lyft accident attorneys will evaluate your insurance settlement options and help you decide the best course of action to recover compensation for your rideshare accident injuries and medical bills.
When Does Coverage Kick in If There’s a Rideshare Accident?
Contingent third-party liability coverage provided by Uber and Lyft starts the minute a driver logs on and indicates they’re available to accept rides. At this stage, the rideshare company’s policy only becomes relevant if the driver’s insurance offers less protection than that maintained by Uber or Lyft. Both Uber and Lyft offer more coverage once a driver accepts a ride. The minute a driver says yes to a fare, both rideshare companies provide third-party liability, uninsured motorist bodily injury, contingent comprehensive and contingent collision policies.
How a New Orleans Rideshare Accident Attorney Can Help Accident Victims
At Bloom Legal, we don’t let insurance companies nickel-and-dime our clients and we see through efforts of ridesharing companies to avoid liability for the negligence or reckless conduct of drivers operating under their banner. We have the skill, tenacity, and commitment to protect our clients from these tactics and fight tirelessly on their behalf to get them the compensation they deserve, including compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages such as lost companionship and loss of financial support
When you reach out to us after an Uber, Lyft, or taxi accident for your free initial consultation, we will thoroughly evaluate your claim and advise you of your options. It is critical that you call us as soon as possible after your accident. The insurers for the ridesharing company and their driver will be on the case within minutes after the incident, taking steps to build the strongest possible defense. The longer you wait to get your own lawyer, the bigger the head start the insurers will have and the harder it might be to overcome. Additionally, Louisiana law establishes strict time limits for bringing personal injury claims against rideshare drivers and companies. Even if you are unsure whether you have a claim or want to seek compensation, meeting with an attorney is the best way to preserve your rights and prevent your claim from being time-barred. By retaining Bloom Legal to represent you in your ridesharing accident case, you will be leveling the playing field and putting the insurance companies on notice that they will be facing formidable opponents who will go the distance for you. After your free consultation, a New Orleans rideshare accident attorneys will immediately get to work on your case, including:
- Obtaining police reports
- Identifying and interviewing eyewitnesses
- Gathering evidence as to the accident and the nature and extent of your injuries
- Investigating the cause of your accident and injuries
- Dealing with insurance companies
- Asserting your claims against all responsible parties, including the rideshare driver, the rideshare company or others.
- Developing and implementing a comprehensive case strategy
- Standing by your side and fighting for you every step of the way
A New Orleans Rideshare Accident Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions
How are rideshare accidents different from other types of car accidents?
Rideshare accidents are unique for a couple of different reasons. First, Uber and Lyft take the position that they are software companies, unlike a taxi company or other ride service. They do not purchase cars or hire drivers.
Second, Uber and Lyft drivers are engaged in providing a commercial service. This means that their car insurance will not cover the claim if they were at fault in causing the accident. Many rideshare drivers neglect to inform their insurance carrier that they have decided to work as a rideshare driver. As a result, the insurance coverage issues in a rideshare accident can be far more complicated than in an accident involving two private passenger vehicles. This is why it’s so important to work with a New Orleans rideshare accident attorney if you have been injured in a rideshare accident.
Aren’t Uber and Lyft required to provide insurance coverage?
Early on, people who were injured in rideshare accidents found no insurance coverage available because the driver’s insurance would deny the claim. The rideshare companies would deny any liability, citing that their drivers were independent contractors. As a result, many states brought pressure on rideshare companies to provide some amount of basic coverage.
In New Orleans, rideshare companies must provide insurance coverage in different amounts in two scenarios:
- The rideshare app is on, but the driver currently does not have a passenger;
- The rideshare app is on, and the driver is transporting a passenger.
In these situations, the rideshare company’s insurance should be primary, but when your accident occurred can significantly impact the amount of coverage available. A New Orleans rideshare accident attorney can help you navigate the claim process so that you can get compensation for your injuries.
What should I do if I was injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft?
Accident claims can be complex for passengers because they may not have witnessed what happened. As a result, you need to do your best to collect evidence after the accident to the extent you can. If you can, you should take the following steps:
- Get the name and contact information of the other driver or anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Call the police, and get the name and badge number of the officer that responds to the scene. You may need to contact them later to get a copy of the accident report.
- Use your smartphone to take pictures of the scene of the accident, the damage to the vehicles, and any injuries that you may have suffered.
- Get the rideshare driver’s information, such as his name, contact information, and personal insurance information.
- Report the accident to the rideshare company.
How do I know if I should contact a New Orleans rideshare accident attorney?
Rideshare accidents can be incredibly complex, and claims can be challenging to resolve. We recommend that you contact an attorney if you have suffered a severe injury. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An experienced rideshare accident attorney can handle your claim on your behalf so that you can focus on your recovery.
Call Bloom Legal Today for a Free Consultation with a Top New Orleans Rideshare Accident Lawyer
Whether you were visiting New Orleans or live here in Louisiana, if you have been injured in a ridesharing accident, we can help. At Bloom Legal, our New Orleans rideshare accident attorneys understand the legal and practical nuances of these cases and know how to overcome the hurdles that ridesharing companies put in the way of accident victims seeking compensation for their negligence or that of their drivers. With fierce advocacy and unwavering dedication, a New Orleans rideshare accident attorney at Bloom Legal will fight to get you what you deserve when you have been injured in an Uber, Lyft or taxi accident. Contact us today at 504-599-9997 or through our contact form to arrange for your free consultation to discuss the details of your claim.
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Posted By: Zachary Klos