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.
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 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. Our New Orleans ridesharing accident lawyers 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/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.
In New Orleans, most cabs are owned by companies that operate huge fleets of cars, while a smaller number of taxi drivers are independent operators. Regardless, taxi drivers and the owners of taxicabs are common carriers which are required to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their passengers. When they fail to obey traffic laws, fail to properly maintain their vehicles, or are otherwise negligent, they breach their duty of care to their passengers and can be held liable for any injuries they cause.
For ridesharing cars and taxis alike, passengers may be more likely to suffer serious injuries than they would if they were in their own car. Riding in the back seat, passengers may be less conscientious about wearing seatbelts. Taxi and rideshare drivers also tend to be more aggressive in their driving. The combination of these two factors can lead to catastrophe. Other factors involved in taxi accidents include:
- Driver impairment by drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Road rage
- Driver fatigue
- Overcrowding or overloading
- Mechanical failure
- Negligent repair
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 knowledgeable New Orleans ridesharing accident lawyers after being involved in a ridesharing 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
Driver v. Ridesharing Company: Who Can Be Held Responsible?
Just because both drivers and ridesharing 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 experienced New Orleans ridesharing accident lawyers.
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.
How New Orleans Ridesharing Accident Lawyers 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. Our New Orleans ridesharing accident lawyers 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
Injuries to Rideshare Drivers
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, Bloom Legal stands ready to help rideshare 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. We are 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.
Call Bloom Legal Today for a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Ridesharing Accident Injuries
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 ridesharing accident lawyers 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, the New Orleans ridesharing accident attorneys 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 504-636-6729 or through our contact form to arrange for your free consultation to discuss the details of your claim.
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Posted by: Sarah Perrie